GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Dean Kopsell comes to UF/IFAS from the University of Tennessee, where he has worked since 2004. He spent the last four years as professor of plant sciences. Before UT, he worked as an assistant professor of plant sciences at the University of New Hampshire.
Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, named Kopsell to the position following a national search.
“We had to choose from a number of high-quality applicants, but Dr. Kopsell stood out from the rest because of many factors,” said Payne. “He brings a broad vision and a wealth of knowledge about plant industry research, extension and education that can help UF/IFAS continue to build its relationships with Florida’s burgeoning ornamental industry.”
Kopsell starts at UF/IFAS Aug. 25. Before, Kopsell gained valuable administrative experience by working as the research coordinator for his academic department at UT as well as vice president of the research division of the American Society of Horticultural Sciences.
He said he was interested in running the UF/IFAS environmental horticulture department partially because of its faculty and national reputation. In addition, departmental participation in the newly formed plant science degree program will make a difference in training the next generation of horticulturalists, he said.
“One of the greatest strengths is the applied horticulture within the department,” Kopsell said. “Whole-plant horticultural physiology and plant improvement are two areas in high demand within industries, and faculty in the department are having big impacts in these areas, as well as environmental horticulture as a whole.”
Kopsell’s first goal as chair will be to visit environmental horticulture in the UF/IFAS research and education centers. Secondly, he wants to continue the strong relationships already established with the Florida green industry. Thirdly, he wants to get to know UF/IFAS and the university system.
“A good understanding of on-campus entities will help me serve the department and mentor younger faculty and staff,” Kopsell said.
His fourth goal will be to develop a new strategic plan for the department. For the future of the department, Kopsell emphasized how important it is to keep current with technology; stay relevant; reduce financial burdens as they relate to research, teaching and Extension; and attract and train the next generation of horticulturists.
Kopsell earned his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from Illinois State University, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in horticulture from the University of Georgia.