An Alcorn State University professor has been recognized for his outstanding achievements in conservation research.
Dr. Girish Panicker, director of the USDA Conservation Research Program and a tenured professor, is the recipient of the 2023 International Conservation Research Award from the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS).
The SWCS, a leading nonprofit scientific and educational organization advocating for conservation professionals and science-based practices, programs, and policies, recognizes Panicker’s outstanding contributions to conservation research.
“This is a great recognition for me and Alcorn State,” said Panicker. “I was so blessed that I got the job here. Dr. Bristow sent me to work on my Ph.D., and I came back to Alcorn because I knew that this project of conserving soil and water could help around the globe. Our research goes to so many countries around the world.”
Panicker’s achievement has earned him international recognition for his decades-long dedication to the conservation research field in the United States.
As the director of the Conservation Research Center at Alcorn, established by the USDA/NRCS and USDA/ARS in 1988, Panicker has curated the largest global C-factor (Cover and Management) databank on horticultural crops. With over 140,000 readings on 45 crops and an investment of over $6.5 million, this information is utilized worldwide for erosion prediction, nutrient management, conservation planning, and combating soil erosion and climate change.
“It is an extreme honor to acknowledge Dr. Panicker for recently receiving the 2023 International Conservation Research Award,” said Dr. Dexter Wakefield, interim dean of the School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. “Dr. Panicker represents our school’s brand through his groundbreaking research that impacts our nation and the world. He has experimented with blueberries to prevent lung cancer and coronary heart disease. Moreover, he has collaborated with the U.S. government impacting organic fertilizers, studied and produced muscadines with research designed to move toward eliminating breast cancer, and researched cover crops producing information for erosion prediction, nutrient management, and climate change. Most of all, Dr. Panicker impacts everyone he meets as an extremely personable person. I salute Dr. Panicker for a job well done and exemplifying the true ideals of scholarship and service to the profession.”
His groundbreaking research on C-factor technology including his 42-page technology transfer bulletin is available on the websites of prominent land grant universities and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Graduate students as well as conservationists, rely on this resource to prevent soil erosion and address climate change challenges.
Born and raised in the “Land of Spices” in Kerala, India, Panicker’s passion for horticulture and agronomy was nurtured on his family’s farm. Inspired by his mom’s commitment to natural farming and education, Panicker excelled academically. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Kerala. His journey took him across continents, working with the Indian government and the United Nations to broaden food access and combat starvation in West Africa.
His quest for knowledge led him to Alcorn State University, where he earned a master’s degree in agronomy. Later, he pursued his Ph.D. in horticulture with a specialization in pomology at Mississippi State University.
He has received numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Pride of India Award and the 2020 Organic Achievement Award from the American Society of Agronomy, among a host of others.
Panicker’s depth of research and knowledge in the field has led him to become a highly respected scholar and sought-after presenter at conferences around the world.