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UF Agronomy Graduate Students Gain Recognition at Annual Crop Science of America Meetings

Six graduate students studying agronomy in the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) were honored at the annual Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) meetings held in Baltimore, Maryland, during November 2018.

For CALS students Katie Cox and David Jaramillo, attending the CSSA meeting has been essential to becoming confident in presenting research, gaining valuable feedback from industry leaders and developing a professional network. The students were mentored by UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) faculty in the agronomy department.

“Any chance you get to present, even if it seems difficult, you should at least consider taking,” Cox said. “I consider these experiences some of the most beneficial of my graduate career. You will rarely be given the opportunity to speak to so many people who may have additional opportunities to offer you.”

The CSSA has nine different divisions based on subject matter and various science disciplines.

Turfgrass Science, Division C-5, held a graduate student poster competition. Two CALS students supervised by UF/IFAS agronomy professor Kevin Kenworthy received recognition for their research poster presentations:

  • Jamie Buhlman placed first in turf physiology, molecular biology,

and genetics, and

  • Katie Cox placed third in turfgrass management and ecology.

In addition to her poster presentation, Cox was also awarded the 2018 Stiegler Turf Science Student Travel Award and Fellowship.

“Two years ago, I was worried that the transition into turfgrass would be difficult for me because it is a male-dominated field and I knew nothing about it at the time; however, I have felt nothing but accepted and encouraged, and awards like these add a lot to that,” Cox said. “I am glad my hard work was recognized and it has inspired me to work harder to honor why the award was created in the first place.”

The Forage and Grazinglands, Division C-6, held the Robert F. Barnes Ph.D. Graduate Education Awards, which recognize students who make outstanding oral (Ph.D. students only) or poster presentations (M.S. students only). CALS Ph.D. students earned the top four awards among the oral presentations:

  • David Jaramillo placed first, advised by UF/IFAS assistant professor Jose Dubeux Jr., based out of the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna,
  • Lilane Severino da Silva placed second, advised by UF/IFAS agronomy distinguished professor Lynn Sollenberger,
  • Liza Garcia placed third, advised by Dubeaux, and
  • Erick Santos placed fourth, advised by Dubeaux.

“These meetings are a great place to learn about what other people are doing in other places, as well as a place for networking,” Jaramillo said. “I would urge students to take advantage of these meetings to present posters and oral presentations as much as possible.

Cox encourages students in all majors to reach out to their professors, advisers and other graduate students to participate in activities like CSSA. She also recommends getting involved in undergraduate research. “In the time I have been in this program I have learned that there are so many opportunities to learn or try something new if you just ask,” she said.

The CSSA offers both undergraduate and graduate memberships for those interested.


The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution. The University of Florida is ranked No. 8 in the list of top 10 best public universities by U.S. News & World Report. Visit the CALS website at, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.