Who helped you the most when you first started at UF in the department, and what did they do?
Jim Jones. When Jim arrived in 1977, he encouraged me to collaborate with him on crop modeling activities with soybean. I had been invited by Dr. Ernest Smerdon in 1976 to participate in Regional S-107 project on Soybean Production and Management Simulation Models. We started developing our own SOYGRO model with Gail Wilkerson, released in 1983. I collaborated with Jim starting in 1983 on the IBSNAT project which led to the DSSAT software. Jim and Wayne Mishoe helped develop the soil-plant-atmosphere research chambers for studying crop response to elevated CO2 and temperature. Hartwell Allen, USDA scientist subsequently took leadership on using SPAR chambers to study climate change effects on crops, and that led me into major contributions in that field.
Why is your research important, and how do you think it will impact our world?
The DSSAT crop modeling software is now well developed and includes models for nearly 40 different crops. It is the most used crop modeling software in the world and is widely used, having been downloaded more than 10,000 times for the last release. It is having major use and impact for evaluating crop management, genetic improvement, and global climate change effects. I need to say this has been a multi-collaborative effort started by Jim Jones but is presently being led by Dr. Gerrit Hoogenboom since Jim retired.
What is your advice to future students looking at ABE as their career path?
There is a wide range of possibilities beyond your degree. Think broadly and be interdisciplinary as you do not know what future jobs or needs will be there. Technology, computers, internet, web services will clearly be part of the future.