UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences celebrates student award winners

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Sixteen UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students were recognized for their academic achievement and successes at the University of Florida during the annual CALS awards ceremony, held April 16.

“I’m continually impressed by the caliber of our students each year, who seek out opportunities to develop as researchers and leaders in their field,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner. “I’m also inspired by our teachers and advisors who continue to innovate classes and connect to make their student experience one of the best in the country.”

The following students were recognized as some of the most exception in the college, demonstrating exemplary leadership, service and academic excellence.

Teagan Young, an environmental horticultural doctoral student from Kalamazoo, Michigan, received the Jack L. Fry Award for Teaching Excellence by a Graduate Student. This award is named after the former CALS assistant dean for academic programs and recognize excellence and efficacy in classroom or laboratory teaching in addition to high academic achievement. Teagan served as a teaching assistant for many courses focused on landscape design and arboriculture, with a goal of creating interactive learning environments to foster critical thinking and professional growth.

Portrait of blonde woman in gray striped shirt.Taylor Combs Judkins, a nutritional sciences doctoral student from Palm Beach, Fl was one of two students presented with the Jimmy G. Cheek Graduate Student Medal of Excellence. Recipients of this award are outstanding graduate students who demonstrate high academic potential and achievement, leadership and community involvement, and commitment to their chosen field of study. Taylor has served as head teaching assistant for courses in food science and human nutrition, while working on her dissertation study focused on improving women’s health.

Brooks Parrish, an environmental horticulture doctoral student from Trenton, Fl also earned the Jimmy G. Cheek Graduate Student Medal of Excellence. Throughout his program, he co-authored seven referred papers and 13 abstracts, focused on plant breeding outcomes in lantana, caladiums, petunia, blackberries, citrus and porterweed.


Nick Blumenthal, a nutritional sciences student from Sioux City, Iowa, received the outstanding senior award, the J. Wayne Reitz Medal of Excellence. This award, established in 1967, is awarded to an outstanding senior for distinguished scholarship and leadership. The award is named after J. Wayne Reitz, UF provost for agriculture from 1949 to 1955, and UF president from 1955 to 1967. Blumenthal has conducted research on the role of inflammation in chronic health conditions such as diet-related diseases, addressed the United Nations at the Food and Agriculture Organization Headquarters in Rome, and volunteered at the Gainesville Community Giving Garden, assisting in harvesting efforts and educating the community about food and nutrition.

Meredith Anderson, a marine sciences student from West Palm Beach, Fl received the Larry J. Connor Medal of Excellence. This award established in 1999 and named after a former CALS dean, recognizes a senior student who fosters diversity and has distinguished academic record and a high degree of leadership. Anderson sought out a variety of research experiences including internships with the United States Geological Survey and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

Paola Jaramillo Sullivan, a family youth and community sciences student. Paola was awarded the Emelie L. Matthews Award of Excellence, give to an outstanding senior who entered UF as a transfer student. The award is named in honor of contributions made by the Emelie Matthews, a former CALS employee for 35 years. Jaramillo Sullivan has balanced roles in research and entrepreneurship at UF, authoring a series of children’s books to nurture grit and resilience. Before publishing, Jaramillo Sullivan is conducting research on the efficacy of one those books.

Elizabeth Putnam, an agricultural education and communication student hailing from Bartow, Fl received the CALS Alumni and Friends Leadership Award. This award is presented to a senior who has shown exemplary leadership, scholastic achievement and citizenship in departmental or college organization and support the agriculture, natural resources and life sciences industries. Putnam took part in UF student government, served as president of CALS Council, and completed several internship and leadership development programs.

Megan Edge, an agricultural education and communication student from Lake City, Fl was awarded the E.T. York, Jr. Medal of Excellence. This annual award is presented to an outstanding junior who exhibits a distinguished academic record and demonstrates leadership success. Megan is currently the president of the UF Collegiate Farm Bureau and the Agriculture Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow, and vice president of CALS Council. She is a part of the CALS Ambassadors and CALS Leadership Institute, and is completing an internship with Florida Farm Bureau to increase advocacy for agriculture across the state.

The following students were recognized as Top 10 Seniors in the college, in addition to Blumenthal, Anderson, Jaramillo Sullivan and Putnam:

  • Dayita Banerjee, microbiology and cell science
  • Taylor Casine, biology
  • Delana Gonzales, wildlife ecology and conservation
  • Dominic Maglione, microbiology and cell science
  • Ashley Orr, family youth and community sciences
  • Charisse Sproha, wildlife ecology and conservation

The following students were recognized as finalists for the E. T. York, Jr. Medal of Excellence, in addition to Edge,

  • Julia Jamieson, biology
  • Mia Stewart, animal sciences

Posted: April 18, 2024

Category: UF/IFAS Teaching,
Tags: Agricultural Education And Communication, Animal Sciences, Awards, Awards And Recognitions, Biology, Environmental Horticulture, FYCS, Marine Sciences, Microbiology And Cell Science, Nutritional Sciences, Wildlife Ecology And Conservation

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories