Folta Earns Borlaug CAST Communication Award

Kelly MarshallAg Group, Award, Dupont Pioneer

Kevin Folta, associate professor of Horticultural Sciences. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) is pleased to announce Dr. Kevin Folta as the winner of this year’s prestigious Borlaug CAST Communication Award.  Dr. Folta serves as the Chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Services.  He is a teacher, mentor, researcher and organizer and has a talent for relating to the non-scientific crowd.  He focuses on clear, credible information and trains scientists, farmers, physicians and students to reach out on confusing scientific and controversial topics.

As a Department Chair, Folta provides statewide administrative leadership in the University of Florida’s teaching, research, and extension fruit and vegetable programs. He coordinates and supports efforts in more than 50 research programs at seven locations, ranging from citrus breeding and biotechnology to organic and sustainable production. His laboratory examines how plants sense light signals and how different parts of the light spectrum can affect shelf life and high-value fruit and vegetable traits. His group also uses novel genomics approaches to identify genes related to flavor and disease resistance.

Although he is an accomplished scientist, Folta is respected by his peers and many others for his ability to communicate in a polite, thoughtful, and provocative manner. As one colleague stated, “He treats everyone with tremendous respect. He often transforms conflict-riddled situations into true learning moments.” With his passion for science, knowledge, and understanding, Dr. Folta is a worthy recipient of the Borlaug CAST Communication Award.

Folta’s blog is a reflection of his passion for communicating science, as are his weekly podcasts.  He is a highly regarded speaker around the world and he has designed a workshop to teach scientist how to engage a skeptical public.  Julie Borlaug notes that, “He has not shied away from controversial subjects and has often been the number one target of the anti-science movement on behalf of all of us who support biotechnology.”

Folta will receive the award at a breakfast event hosted by Dupont and CAST at the World Food Prize Symposium in October.