Vijaya Gopal Kakani joins the University of Florida as professor and chair of the UF/IFAS agronomy department. He starts July 6.
As the new chair, Kakani will lead the department in its goal to improve and sustain food production while conserving natural resources. The department’s knowledgeable faculty work around the state and investigate plants for food, feed, fuel, fiber and turf, as well as weed management.
“I’m most looking forward to expanding my contributions to science through mentoring young faculty and grad students to meet the food, feed, fuel and fiber needs of a growing population,” Kakani said. “I feel prepared to see the department into the future of agronomy – in terms of funding opportunities, interacting with stakeholders, and building collaborations with peer institutions and federal agencies.”
Kakani completed his bachelor’s degree in agriculture and master’s degree in agronomy in India and his Ph.D. in crop physiology and modeling at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. He began his postdoctoral career in the United States, where he once conducted research in the very same University of Florida department he is now poised to lead.
Kakani currently serves as the professor and interim head of Plant and Soil Sciences at Oklahoma State University, where he has held a faculty position since 2008.
“There is a potential to enhance alternate crops and sustainable production systems in Florida,” Kakani said. “Agriculture is at the crossroads of food production and climate change. I look forward to supporting faculty and students in the agronomy department who are ready to feed a growing population. They’re also prepared to contribute to climate change mitigation by better managing crops to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon sequestration.”
Scott Angle, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of UF/IFAS, said agronomy is central to the mission to feed a growing world population.
“Kakani’s past work on stress tolerance, productivity and sustainability will serve him well in understanding the needs of faculty engaged in this challenge,” Angle said. “The experience he brings will advance not only the work to be done by our faculty, but also the field of agronomy and the future of feeding the world.”
Agronomy is a prominent program within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), the fourth-largest college at UF. CALS is a top-ranked agriculture school in the United States and known for excellence in teaching and research worldwide.