CAST Award Recognizes Dr. Kevin Folta

Josh McGill Citrus

CAST Award Recognizes Dr. Kevin Folta for Excellence in Science Communication

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

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) announced that the 2016 Borlaug CAST Communication Award will be given to Dr. Kevin Folta, chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Dr. Folta is renowned for his ability to communicate science to non-scientific audiences and has trained scientists, farmers, physicians and students on how to conduct public outreach on scientific topics. CropLife America (CLA), member of CAST and founding sponsor of the award, applauds Dr. Folta for the impact he has made in bringing comprehensible information about agricultural science to the public.

“CropLife America is pleased to congratulate Dr. Folta on winning the 2016 Borlaug CAST Communication Award,” stated Jay Vroom, CEO and president of CLA. “His extensive experience and involvement in multiple areas of agricultural research – from citrus breeding and biotechnology to organic and sustainable production – is an invaluable asset for public outreach. Topics such as vegetable traits and crop disease resistance are foreign to many consumers; we applaud Dr. Folta for engaging audiences and facilitating these important discussions.”

Dr. Folta coordinates and supports the work of faculty in more than 50 research programs at seven locations. He shares his thoughts on the intersection of society and science through his blog, Illumination, and discusses genetic improvements in farming and medicine through his weekly podcast, Talking Biotech. Dr. Folta engages with his audiences through television, radio, podcasts, and at conferences and workshops nationwide. He also developed a communication workshop for scientists to learn how to better engage the public.

Julie Borlaug of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, also a board member of the CropLife Foundation, lauded Dr. Folta for his fearless leadership in the communication of agricultural science. “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,” she stated.

The Borlaug CAST Communication Award is dedicated to Dr. Norman Borlaug, author of the first CAST publication in 1973, and to Dr. Charles A. Black, the first president and executive vice president of CAST. The award is presented annually by CAST for outstanding achievement by a scientist, engineer, technologist, or other professional working in the agricultural, environmental, or food sectors who is dedicated to communicating the significance of their work to policymakers, media and the public. The 2016 award presentation will occur at the World Food Prize Symposium on October 12 in Des Moines, Iowa.

CLA communicates about the benefits of crop protection products and the science behind the development of pesticide technology at meetings and conferences across the country. The association also develops and shares toolkits, posters and infographics that answer questions about plant defense science, such as Why Pesticides? and Is Risk Okay? CLA encourages foodies, moms, chefs, growers, workers in the crop protection industry, and anyone interested in food production to get involved in the conversation on sustainable food production online and interact with CLA on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.