UF/IFAS postdoctoral researcher recognized for standout leadership in management and mentorship

FORT PIERCE, Fla.—A woman in science with expertise in nanotechnology for crop production has been honored with a prestigious award.

Dr. Xiaoping Xin in a laboratory
Xiaoping Xin in a laboratory at the Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC). Photo by UF/IFAS Tyler Jones

Xiaoping Xin is a postdoctoral research associate at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce, where she co-leads a soil and water science laboratory in which scientists work to advance crop production and environmental sustainability.

Superior Accomplishment Award

UF/IFAS officials recognized Xin with a Superior Accomplishment Award for her exceptional achievements in 2023.

“I am honored to be recognized in this way, and I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Zhenli He, and our laboratory team as we work together to help growers improve soil fertility and optimize crop production,” said Xin.

Nanotechnology defined 

Zhenli He’s lab provides scientific research and education in the field of soil and water science and develops innovative technologies—nanotechnology in particular–for sustainable agriculture. Nanotechnology involves inert particles less than 100 nanometers in size, which can be used to carry molecules, such as plant nutrients, into a plant.

The scientists aim to obtain effective and economically sound solutions to improve sandy soils on marginal lands so that more food may be produced in soils deemed unsuitable for crop production.

While Xin gives credit to her lab team for their shared work to target microscopic-size nanoparticles in crops, her colleagues praise Xin’s special characteristics: adaptability, insight into scientific advancement, and readiness.

Dr. Xiaoping Xin’s leadership 

Jaya “Jay” Nepal harvests beets from a cool-season vegetable experiment with nanoparticles.

“Last year, the principal investigator for our lab became unavailable to us, and Dr. Xin worked tirelessly to plan and organize, present results, mentor six people, raise engagement, maintain communication, delegate responsibilities, and build trust among collaborators, during her pregnancy, rearing an infant, and return to work shortly afterward,” said Jaya Nepal, who completed a Ph.D. at the lab, and is now employed at Cornell University.

Nepal admires Xin’s personal characteristics. Xin’s research collaborator identifies Xin’s acumen as a scientist superior.

An outstanding research scientist and collaborator on a significant national grant

“I would like to describe Dr. Xin’s character as passionate: Her work ethic is vigorous, and her skills are among an elite group of international soil and water scientists,” said Yang Deng, a Montclair State University Distinguished Scholar, and Professor of Environmental Engineering.

Xin and Deng collaborate on an active United States Department of Agriculture $300,000 grant. Their goal is to reduce the reliance of agricultural irrigation on limited freshwater resources to safeguard soil, food, and public health with technology innovations for water reclamation and resilience, wrote Deng in a letter to support the nomination.

Deng said Xin is one of the most outstanding young scientists with whom he has worked his entire career. Ronald D. Cave, who nominated Xin for the UF/IFAS award, said Xin sets an example of leadership and cheerfulness that others follow.

“Dr. Xiaoping Xin is an inspiration to Dr. Zhenli He’s laboratory team, the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center community, and the University of Florida,” Cave said.


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Posted: February 29, 2024

Category: Agriculture, Crops, Professional Development, UF/IFAS Research
Tags: Crop Production, Nanotechnology, Natural Resources Protection, Postdoctoral Researcher, Soil And Water Science, UF/IFAS, University Of Florida/IFAS, Women In Science

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