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UF world leader in soil, water science to receive international award

By Robin Koestoyo

Media Contact: Beverly James, 352-273-3566,


FORT PIERCE, Fla.— University of Florida professor Zhenli He will receive an international honor for outstanding research contributions to his native China. The Kingenta Agricultural Science award is given by the American Society of Agronomy.

He, a professor of soil fertility and environmental chemistry, is also associate director for the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center. He will be honored at the organization’s annual meeting held Oct. 25 in Tampa, Florida.

“Zhenli He is a brilliant scientist with an outstanding record in his research and teaching roles at IRREC and abroad,” said UF/IFAS IRREC professor and director, Ronald D. Cave.

Each year, ASA officials recognize one agronomy research scientist throughout the world who has made outstanding contributions to China’s agricultural and environmental sciences. Of the seven recipients who have achieved the Kingenta award since its 2011 inception, three have represented the University of Florida. Other recipients represented universities in China, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Iowa.

He has trained more than 30 scientists in his soil and water science laboratory at UF/IFAS IRREC, many who hold or who have achieved professorships at Chinese universities. This year alone, seven Chinese scientists will receive training in He’s laboratory. In his role as a courtesy professor for both Zhejiang University and the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences, He serves on committees to direct graduate school education and advise students with experiment design for environmental ecology programs.

A world leader in soil and water science, He is a director of the U.S.-China Agricultural Science Research Forum. The forum conducts an annual symposium for the two nations’ top scientists during which the world’s most compelling environmental issues are discussed. This year, forum members will address global warming and its impact on soil and water resources.

In addition to this most recent honor, He has been recognized with a number of international, national and university awards. He was named a Fellow by both the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy, the highest achievement for both international organizations. In 2015, the Association of Chinese Soil and Plant Scientists in North America recognized him with a Distinguished Career Award.

He earned a doctorate in soil and environmental chemistry, a master’s in soil chemistry and fertility, and a bachelor’s in soil science and plant nutrition, from Zhejiang University.


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.



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