Winner Profiles

Welcome Back to Campus!

Monday, August 10, 2020

By now, you've gotten your biscuit and are ready to take on the day!

But before you get into your Monday routine, we invite you to take a look at Dr. Toews' welcome video and then scroll down this page and read about our outstanding crop of 2020 Award of Excellence winners.

We're glad you're back. So, be safe and GO DAWGS!


2020 Award of Excellence Winners

Senior Scientist - Research Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez
Junior Scientist - Research Bhabesh Dutta
Senior Scientist - Extension Esendugue Greg Fonsah
Junior Scientist - Extension Andre da Silva
Teaching Gary Burtle

Technical Support - Senior Billy Wilson
Technical Support - Junior Charles Gruver
Service Unit Support Michael Pippin 
Administrative Support Tiffany Wiggins
Student Employee Haley Pulsifer 


Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez
Senior Scientist - Research

  • 370 publications, including 70 refereed journal articles and three books.
  • ResearchGate (9 Apr. 2019) RG Score of 39.73 (97.5 percentile) and h-index of 26.
  • Publications cited 1,774 times.
  • Received about $1,137,000 (total $8.0 million) in grants and about $280,000 in gifts.

Selected Projects:

  • Physiological Responses of Vegetable Crops under Plasticulture Systems
  • Sustainable/organic vegetable production
  • Amelioration of Heat Stress
  • Irrigation efficiency
  • Pomegranates


Bhabesh Dutta
Junior Scientist - Research

Dr. Dutta’s extension program focuses on the management of the multitude of plant diseases that affect over 30 different vegetable crops produced in Georgia. His research efforts focus on Fusarium wilt of watermelon, cucurbit and tomato virus reservoirs, Alternaria blight in brassicas, bacterial spot of pepper, and a complex of bacterial diseases of onion. Research efforts include monitoring strains for fungicide resistance and gaining a better understanding on the ecology of bacterial pathogens.

Selected Honors and Awards:

  • The Friends of IPM, Bright Idea award (2019): This program recognizes extraordinary achievement in research, Extension and implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the southern region of the United States.
  • Excellence in multi-state research award (2018): Awarded by the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors to the W-3008 onion pest and disease-working group.
  • Michael J. Bader award for excellence in extension (2018): Awarded by the University of Georgia, Tifton campus.
  • Recognized as “40 under 40” (2018) in Fruit and Vegetable Industry by the Fruit and Vegetable News.


Esendugue Greg Fonsah
Senior Scientist - Extension

Dr. Fonsah is a tenured Full Professor and Research, Extension & Instruction (REI) Coordinator in the Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), University of Georgia (UGA), Tifton Campus, USA. He has a split appointment, 87.5% Extension and 12.5% teaching and he is responsible for over 35 different commercial vegetables and  almost a dozen fruits and nuts produced in the state of Georgia. 

Selected Accomplishments:

  • Developed and implemented a local, state-wide, regional, national and internationally recognized and reputable extension and applied research program for the fresh food industry,
  • Successfully worked cooperatively with Extension and Research colleagues and students in Ag & Applied Economics Department and in other disciplines to provide critically needed economic, agribusiness, farm management, marketing, trade and policy information for the Georgia Fruits and Vegetable Industry and clientele,
  • Successfully disseminated the products and results of his extension program and applied research to the fruit and vegetable growers/industry via relevant highly respected outlets such as extension publications, peer reviewed bulletins, scientific journal articles, trade publications, posters, periodicals, proceedings, newsletters, radio/TV, videos, websites, educational conferences, and seminars,
  • Successfully educated and assisted in transferring new and innovative technologies to large, medium and limited resource farmers of fruits, vegetables, pecans and other specialty crops produced in the state of Georgia,


Andre Luiz Biscaia Ribeiro da Silva
Junior Scientist - Extension

Dr. da Silva joined the UGA-Tifton, as the Extension Vegetable Specialist, in August 2018. His extension and research programs are primarily focused on the evaluation of vegetable varieties adaptable to the Georgia environmental conditions and the management of irrigation and fertilizer programs for vegetable crops. Over the prior 2 years, Dr. da Silva has demonstrated a high level or work ethic combined with the desire to develop research-based information to meet challenges faced by of Extension agents and growers.

Selected Accomplishments:

  • Introduced improved irrigation scheduling to vegetable growers through a tool called "Irrigating app."
  • Conducted numerous educational sessions for Extension agents and growers for the use of soil moisture sensors and dye infiltration tests to manage irrigation events.
  • Another major emphasis of Dr. da Silva's extension and research program is to identify best management practices for fertilizer applications in vegetable crops.
  • Focused on improving fertilization programs for Vidalia onion growers.
  • Conducted variety trials for cabbage, broccoli, squash, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet corn, onion, sweet potato, and beets.


Gary Burtle

Dr. Burtle is an Extension Aquaculture Specialist and conducts applied research related to fish nutrition and warm water aquaculture at the University of Georgia Tifton campus. Projects involve channel catfish, hybrid catfish, planktivorous fish, freshwater bass, and freshwater prawns. He has Extension programing responsibilities for aquaculture system management, aquaculture development, fish disease diagnostics, fish pond management, and aquatic weed control. He teaches junior-senior level courses in aquaculture and animal science. His non-academic experience includes work in the catfish industry as a processing plant manager, fish farm manager, chemist, and consultant.

Selected Contributions to Instruction:

  • Teach ADSC 3660 and 3660 L – Warmwater Aquaculture and ADSC 4010 – Issues in Animal Agriculture to University of Georgia Students at the Tifton campus. Taught 223 students in 20 classes since 2003.
  • Mentored 6 undergraduate students in Young Scholars, ASSETS or SRTC internships.
  • Member of Graduate Faculty and major or co-major professor for 4 masters and 3 PhD students at the University of Georgia.


Billy Wilson
Technical Support - Senior 

Mr. Wilson has been supporting the Molecular Genetics Laboratory of Crop Protection and Management Research Unit since January 2008, transferred from a Nematology program. The molecular genetics project primary objective is to develop genetic and genomic resources and tools to improve peanut resistance to important diseases (such as TSWV and leaf spots), with a particular emphasis on aflatoxin contamination in corn and peanuts. This is an ARS in-house project that requires research be performed on both peanut (70%) and corn (30%). Mr. Wilson has been learning and becoming very knowledgeable to this project and has been played a significant role of the success of this project, for example average 5 to 10 publication produced from this project in recent years in which Mr. Wilson has made a great effort with the knowledge and experience in the field and the lab and greenhouse. Mr. Wilson has been a great asset to this program and his effort has been exceeded the expectation in supporting this program in and out of the laboratory.

Mr. Wilson does a quality job and is very dependable. He has the attitude of “Ask if there is any question”. He has been leading and supervising students to conduct all the field works with great care.


Charles Gruver
Technical Support - Junior 

Charles Gruver has worked in the Vegetable Entomology Research Laboratory (VERL) under D. Riley since 2015 as a Tech III. 

Charles has done an excellent job over the last five years as indicated by the high marks in his annual job performance evaluations. His work on diamondback back moth toxicological bioassays has resulted in two submitted publications, one of which he is a co-author, Riley, D.G. H. Smith, J. Bennett, P. Torrance, E. Huffman, A. Sparks, Jr., C. Gruver, T. Dunn, and D. Champagne. 2020. Regional survey of diamondback moth response to critical dosages of insecticides in Georgia and Florida. J. Econ. Entomol. (submitted March 2020). As indicated by the author list and the 5-year length of the study, Charles does an excellent job coordinating multiple graduate students and making sure the job gets done even over long-term projects like this one.

Charles gets high marks on his positive attitude and ability to calm people down in stressful situations. He is not only an excellent people-person, he is an entertainer. Partly due to his love for public events, he finds time for his music band that he operates on certain weekends. He played his drum set for the last UGA Tifton Campus Christmas breakfast and was complimented by many of the Tifton Campus employees.


Michael Pippin
Service Unit Support

Having been on the UGA Tifton campus for 23 years, Mike has formally served both the Crop and Soil Sciences department and the Field Research Services department. However, his reach is seen all across the campus.

People across campus may not know exactly what Mike does, in fact they might not even notice - until they need Mike to help them with a large project. It is difficult to singularly define the role Mr. Pippin plays here on campus; he spends a good deal of his running heavy equipment and machinery. Some days you will find him helping move dirt to and from certain areas, maintaining some of our farm roadways, ditches, reservoirs and pond areas. Other days he is performing the annual inventory for Field Research Services. Mike also spends a lot of his time helping to keep the aesthetics of our campus, in the larger areas that need maintaining through frequent mowing with larger equipment.

When Mike is sent to do a job he performs it to his best ability. If a problem arises or something breaks down he exhausts all of his effort in trying to fix it before calling someone else in to assist. Mike is very meticulous when using and maintaining the heavy equipment. After he has completed a job he returns the equipment back, taking extra time to wash it off, check any hoses, air filters, and fuel levels, before leaving. Mike very much lives by the motto "return it in better shape than you found it!"


Tiffany Wiggins
Administrative Support

Tiffany Wiggins has worked for the UGA-Tifton Campus for 10 years, beginning in 2008 as a student/utility worker at the Physical Plant, then later in Entomology and eventually progressing up to a full-time position in 2012 as an Administrative Associate at the Physical Plant. In 2015, she became the Business Manager of both Physical Plant and Field Research Services, where she handles the day-to-day budgetary tasks of running both departments.

Tiffany is a bright, intelligent young lady who has grasped and has great knowledge of UGA’s policies and procedures and how to efficiently and effectively maneuver through the systems to accomplish the tasks that many of us find daunting. She communicates regularly with departments in Athens and has created great working relationships with them in order to achieve the desired outcomes when trying to move things along. Tiffany has mastered the bidding and purchase order system and is many times the go-to for others on campus and at branch stations to ask for advice on correct policy and procedure in order to process their requests correctly. She is always willing to assist anybody that asks.

Tiffany’s quality of work is beyond what is expected. She not only accomplishes all duties in an efficient manner, but is very good at handling last minute tasks that are handed to her with answers or results needed in just mere minutes or hours. It doesn’t ever seem to faze her; she just goes with the flow and takes care of the immediate needs and then goes back to her regular duties. She is always willing to go the extra mile to assist anyone who needs it; even if it means that she may need to stay late to finish a project.


Haley Pulsifer
Student Employee

Haley has been a student worker at the dairy for one year and plans to continue her employment here throughout her college duration. During her time of employment Haley has gone above and beyond normal duties. She is certified to artificially inseminate and is becoming one of the main breeders for our dairy. Haley is patient and consistent when observing for heat detection. Haley is also successful with diagnosing sick/lame cows, administering intravenous injections, intramuscular injections, along with transferring fluids.

Being that Haley has been a great asset and very dedicated worker, she assist with training new student workers that come on board at the dairy. Haley has proven that she is capable to supervise different tasks with student workers without direct supervision from the manager.  Not only is Haley task oriented, she is also safe and efficient while operating many different types of heavy machinery. 

Haley always works well with others and is always willing to adapt to the changing schedules at the dairy. She has and continues to be a dependable worker. Because of loyal individuals like Haley, the dairy is able to continue exceptional research and to grow as an educational facility.