Dr. Ann Wilkie, research professor of bioenergy and sustainable technology in the Soil and Water Sciences Department (SWSD), is the recipient of the 2021 VP Promise Award. Wilkie is the inaugural winner of the award, from the UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research. The Promise Award recognizes Wilkie’s exceptional mentorship of undergraduate students.
“At UF/IFAS, we value the mentorship of our young scientists, and Dr. Wilkie’s program has been a shining example of that objective,” Dr. Robert Gilbert, dean for research said.
Wilkie has mentored more than 75 interns through the UF/IFAS Summer Research Internship Program over the past two decades. She has also guided 16 University Scholars through their original research – from planning and data collection to analysis and publication of results.
“Dr. Wilkie’s nomination by our office was met with resounding praise from the leadership of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and IFAS, as well as your department chair and the intern alumni with whom we made contact,” Gilbert added.
Wilkie leads the BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology (BEST) Lab where undergraduate students help investigate and develop biological processes to sustainably remediate wastes, power our civilization, and provide nutrients for agriculture. The current focus includes diverting food waste from landfills for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and nutrient-rich compost production as well as cultivating algae for carbon capture and utilization.
“Through the BEST Lab, Ann offers opportunities for undergraduate students to conduct individual research projects in the lab and hands-on fieldwork in the Student Compost Cooperative facilities and gardens,” said Dr. Matt Whiles, professor and chair of the SWSD. “This is the ideal experience for an undergraduate student and Ann makes that happen for so many at UF.”
Dr. Scott Angle, UF/IFAS vice president, said Dr. Wilkie’s work with undergraduates allows those students to go out and make significant contributions almost immediately after graduation.
“Professor Wilkie favors a quote attributed to W.B. Yeats that I was struck by: ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,’” Angle added. “I think that really well describes what we do when we work with students, especially through internships. Congratulations, Professor Wilkie, on the VP Promise Award, and thank you for all that you do.”