UF Welcomes New Turf Weed Scientist

 – Dr. Scott Angle, Vice President for Ag & Natural Resources, UF/IFAS

Dr. Pawel Petelewicz

I’ve got some good news: we’re getting a weed scientist in  Gainesville.  You’re a big reason for that.I’ve spent the first six months at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences listening to producers. Few industry groups expressed as precise a need as Turfgrass Producers of Florida did for a weed scientist. You made such a strong case that I supported filling the position even during a university-wide hiring pause.

I introduce to you Dr. Pawel Petelewicz. He’ll likely arrive in Gainesville in late March or early April. One of the main focuses of his current work is determining or improving best practices to eradicate difficult turf weeds. He takes this approach with an understanding of the benefits of turfgrass as part of the urban environment.

When he arrived in the U.S. from Poland in 2015, the first guy to greet him when he got off the plane was someone you may know: Dr. Marco Schiavon, now an assistant professor of turfgrass science at the UF/IFAS Ft. Lauderdale Researc

h and Education Center.  Yes, we found Pawel (pronounced PAH-vell) where we found Marco: in Dr. Jim Baird’s lab at the University of California, Riverside.  In the vast UC system in a huge state, Baird is the only faculty member focused on turf. The lab is an industry-driven operation, a lean and nimble team hustling to deliver solutions, striving to keep one step ahead of weeds’ adaptations to treatments, not only trying every tool in the box but combining tools to give longer life to the products you’re already familiar with.

When you’re part of a team like that, you develop a service ethic that’s as critical as scientific chops. So it was no surprise that Florida golf course superintendents and chemical company reps started getting calls from Pawel before he even interviewed for the job. That impressed Kevin Kenworthy, who led the search and who says Pawel’s job at UF/IFAS is to build the top turf weed science program in the nation.

You can count on your phone ringing, too. Pawel is excited to serve the Turfgrass Producers. While Pawel is still highly focused on his ongoing research at UCR, he is also making plans for his position at UF/IFAS in the spring and preparing for the Golf Industry Show in February.

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF  Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).