A new face recently started working at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Hillsborough County.
Kevin Wang trained as an engineer and gave little thought to agriculture. But then, life took a few turns.
Born in Tianjin, China, Wang was raised in an urban area and went to the China Agricultural University in Beijing. He lived in Beijing for seven years.
In college, Wang learned to be a software engineer. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and never seriously considered studying abroad, but a summer camp at the University of California, Davis in 2007 changed his mind. Through that experience, he challenged himself to work harder and make life changes.
Wang started at the UF/IFAS (University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) Gulf Coast Research and Education Center on October 1. He joined UF/IFAS because of the university’s vision of becoming an international leader in AI research and applications.
“That vision matches my research at the intersection of plant breeding, ag engineering and computer science. The diversity of specialty crops in Florida also attracts me as I could see a wider research space,” he said.
Now that Wang works for UF/IFAS, he plans to use artificial intelligence to help the center’s scientists develop new varieties of tomatoes, strawberries, ornamental plants and other specialty crops with more efficiency and precision.
He’s already using ground and aerial images (via unmanned aerial systems, or drones) to help plant breeders zero in on the phenotypes—or visible characteristics—they seek. Through phenotypes, plant breeders can select desirable traits and ultimately provide growers with new plant varieties.
The University of Florida is making artificial intelligence the centerpiece of a major, long-term initiative that combines world-class research infrastructure, cutting-edge research and a transformational approach to curriculum. UF is home to the most powerful, university-owned supercomputer in the nation, according to rankings just released by TOP500, contributing to innovative research and education opportunities.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences 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 UF 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.
For more information, visit ifas.ufl.edu.