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Current Projects

The following projects are provided as examples of the diversity of topics researched and evaluation services provided by the Impact Evaluation Unit

Furthering the development and implementation of systems-based organic management strategies for spotted wing drosophila. USDA, NIFA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).
PI Dr. Ash Ahmad, UGA Entomology

  • Project Description: Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is a devastating pest of small and stone fruits throughout the United States causing very high losses (up to 100%) in crop yield and quality, which have been estimated at $718 million annually. Management of SWD is achieved largely by insecticide applications and is particularly challenging for organic growers due to the few effective OMRI approved materials. The goal of this project is to apply information on biology, ecology, and behavior SWD to develop organically appropriate management programs.

LAMP: Light Approaches to Maximize Profits. Optimizing the cost-effectiveness of lighting in controlled environment agriculture. USDA, NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).
PI Dr. Marc van Iersel, UGA Horticulture

  • Project Description: Lighting accounts for 40-50% of the variable costs in plant factories and 20-30% in those greenhouses that use supplemental lighting. More cost-effective lighting approaches will have a major impact on the sustainability and profitability of controlled environment agriculture (CEA;
    greenhouses and plant factories). At the same time, more efficient lighting methods will reduce
    energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, providing societal and environmental benefits. Our
    goal is to help growers get more value out of their lighting systems by providing
    horticultural and economical information and tools to help manage lighting systems to
    optimize crop growth and quality. For more information see news article on LAMP.

Peer Learning Assistant Program. USG STEM Initiative Grant.
PI Dr. Tim Burg, UGA Professor and Director, Office of STEM Education

  • Project Description: The project addresses two weaknesses in the STEM pipeline, 1) STEM gatekeeper courses and, 2) STEM content delivery in grades 6-12. To address the weaknesses the project has implemented a Peer Learning Assisted (PLA) mentoring approach to improve performance in UGA undergraduate STEM core courses as an alarming number of undergraduate students are challenged by these courses that serve as a gatekeeper to STEM majors (i.e., chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science). PLA is a system in which undergraduate students who have succeeded in the gatekeeper course are provided training and then engage with newly enrolled students as a course mentor.

Leading Nations with Agricultural Education: From Local to Global to Advance Agriculture in Native America. USDA, NIFA, Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants Program
PI Dr. Kay Kelsey, UGA Professor and Director, Impact Evaluation Unit

  • Project Description: Leading Nations with Agricultural Education is a fellowship program to support three Navajo Ph.D. students, resulting in an increase in the number, quality, and diversity of graduates in agricultural sciences. Fellows will develop leadership skills and science competencies through local to global experiential educational internships.