At the 25th annual International Student Achievement Award Ceremony hosted by the University of Florida International Center as part of International Education Week, seven international students in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences received awards on Nov. 14.
The following students were recognized for their achievements:
- Hao Gan, first place Alec Courtelis Award, agricultural and biological engineering Ph.D. candidate
- Georgia Marris, Diane Fisher Scholarship, horticultural science senior
- Ana Paula S. Carvalho, Certificate of Excellence, entomology and nematology Ph.D. candidate
- Francine Messias Ciriaco Silva, Certificate of Excellence, animal science Ph.D. candidate
- Krishna Bhattarai, Certificate of Excellence, environmental horticulture Ph.D. candidate
- Liliane Severino da Silva, Certificate of Excellence, agronomy Ph.D. candidate
- Ricardo Alcala-Briseno, Certificate of Excellence, plant pathology Ph.D. candidate
The Alec Courtelis Award honors three outstanding international graduate students recognized for their excellent academic contributions and service to both the UF campus and the Gainesville community. Gan, the first-place recipient of this award, came to UF from Nanjing, China.
With a passion for robotics, Gan chose to study agricultural and biological engineering with a focus on precision agriculture at UF. The fourth-year Ph.D. candidate said his major within the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences gave him the opportunity to do research on robotics and also solve critical agricultural problems around the world.
Gan has immersed himself within the Gainesville community, serving as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) tutor in the Alachua County Library District and volunteering to protect threatened species in North Florida through the Ashton Biological Preserve in Archer, Florida. Within the UF/IFAS agricultural and biological engineering department, Gan mentored the robotics team for the last three years. The robotics team has since placed 8th, 4th, and 3rd, respectively.
“Service has provided me more opportunities to communicate with diverse people,” Gan said. “I have been able to convey my research to different people and let more people know what agricultural and biological engineering is and how our work can benefit society.”
With 11 published peer-reviewed articles, including six as the leading author, Gan successfully defended his dissertation on November 6, 2018. His dissertation topic addressed autonomous immature green citrus yield mapping systems. After graduation, Gan plans to work on his career goal of becoming a professor in the industry.
“I want to have a career that lets me continue working on smart farming technologies,” Gan said. “My goal is to build an autonomous smart farm to enable more efficient agricultural production.”