Ag Dawg Experiences Italy By Degrees

First UGA Student Begins Study at Italy's University of Padova as Part of Dual Master's Degree Program

Growing up in Tifton, Georgia, Logan Moore knew he would follow the family tradition of earning his associate’s degree from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Remaining in his hometown and earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia Tifton campus made sense, too.

But after learning he could simultaneously earn master’s degrees from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the University of Padova (UNIPD), one of Italy’s leading research institutions, Moore decided to spread his wings. He is spending 18 months conducting research and taking classes at UNIPD, making him the first UGA graduate student to pursue the new dual master’s degree opportunity.

Moore and his wife, Casey, moved to Italy in May and have settled in a small town outside Padova.

“We live in an apartment just outside the town’s center and I take public transportation to Legnaro, Verona, Cittadella, Istrana or Castelfranco Veneto most days of the week, either working on my project or helping my co-worker with her project,” Moore wrote in an email. “Every day on the train or bus, I study the Italian language and improve my communication skills. I am not yet fluent, but I can communicate to a certain degree.”

The new program is the result of faculty relationships that date back two dozen years to when Francesco Morari, UNIPD associate professor of environmental agronomy, traveled to UGA-Tifton to conduct research for his dissertation.

“Francesco and I became friends and, through the years, we’ve looked for opportunities to collaborate,” said George Vellidis, UGA crop and soil sciences professor.

In 2015, UGA and UNIPD signed a memorandum of understanding to offer this dual graduate degree in sustainable agriculture. The next year was spent studying all aspects of the programs at the two universities, from admissions requirements to required courses.

Moore was accepted into the program at UGA in fall 2016. He is studying the brown marmorated stink bug, a relatively new pest in both Georgia and Italy that can cause millions of dollars in damage if not controlled.

Moore is already busy with his research, detailing the damage stink bugs cause to cherries and kiwis and determining the effects of the landscapes around orchards on stink bug infestations. By the time he returns to UGA next fall, Moore plans to have completed his research and defended his thesis.

“The University of Padova is a top-ranking institution in many areas of research, including agriculture,” Vellidis said. “By studying there for a year or more, our graduates will develop a global perspective and understanding of agriculture. They’ll also have had the opportunity to live and learn in a place that has different ways of doing things. Those experiences will prepare them to explore a far broader range of professional opportunities.”

Two Italian students arrived at UGA in August and are already conducting their research at UGA-Tifton with Professor Peggy Ozias-Akins and Assistant Professor John Snider. A second UGA student, Aaron Bruce from Lakeland, Georgia, will be going to UNIPD in January 2018, and two more UGA students will follow in May 2018.

By Denise Horton

Logan Moore (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ’16)