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Postdoctoral Researcher Xiaoping Xin, at UF/IFAS in Fort Pierce, Is Recognized for Leadership in Management and Mentorship

Xiaoping Xin in a laboratory at the Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC). Photo taken 08-09-23
Tyler Jones/UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones
UF/IFAS Communications
Xiaoping Xin in a laboratory at the Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC). Photo taken 08-09-23

Fort Pierce - Friday March 15, 2024: A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher with expertise in nanotechnology for crop production has been honored with a prestigious award.

Xiaoping Xin is a postdoctoral research associate at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce, where she co-leads a soil and water science laboratory in which scientists work to advance crop production and environmental sustainability.

UF/IFAS officials recognized Xin with a Superior Accomplishment Award for her exceptional achievements in 2023.

“I am honored to be recognized in this way, and I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Zhenli He, and our laboratory team as we work together to help growers improve soil fertility and optimize crop production,” said Xin.

Zhenli He’s lab provides scientific research and education in soil and water science and develops innovative technologies—nanotechnology in particular--for sustainable agriculture. Nanotechnology involves inert particles less than 100 nanometers in size, which can carry molecules, such as plant nutrients, into a plant.

The scientists aim to obtain effective and economically sound solutions to improve sandy soils on marginal lands so that more food may be produced in soils deemed unsuitable for crop production.

While Xin credits her lab team for their shared work to target microscopic-size nanoparticles in crops, her colleagues praise Xin's special characteristics: adaptability, insight into scientific advancement and readiness.

“Last year, the principal investigator for our lab became unavailable to us, and Dr. Xin worked tirelessly to plan and organize, present results, mentor six people, raise engagement, maintain communication, delegate responsibilities, and build trust among collaborators during her pregnancy, rearing an infant and return to work shortly afterward,” said Jaya Nepal, who completed a Ph.D. at the lab, now employed at Cornell University.

Nepal admires Xin’s personal characteristics. Xin’s research collaborator identifies Xin’s acumen as a scientist superior.

“I would like to describe Dr. Xin’s character as passionate: Her work ethic is vigorous, and her skills are among an elite group of international soil and water scientists,” said Yang Deng, a Montclair State University Distinguished Scholar and Professor of Environmental Engineering.

Xin and Deng collaborate on an active United States Department of Agriculture $300,000 grant. Their goal is to reduce the reliance of agricultural irrigation on limited freshwater resources to safeguard soil, food and public health with technology innovations for water reclamation and resilience, wrote Deng in a letter to support the nomination.

Deng said Xin is one of the most outstanding young scientists with whom he has worked his entire career. Ronald D. Cave, who nominated Xin for the UF/IFAS award, said Xin sets an example of leadership and cheerfulness that others follow.

“Dr. Xiaoping Xin is an inspiration to Dr. Zhenli He’s laboratory team, the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center community, and the University of Florida,” Cave said.

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life.

With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the U.F. College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.