McMinnville, TN–Dr. Nick Gawel, Superintendent of Tennessee State University’s Otis L. Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, received the 2013 Slater Wight Memorial Award during the Southern Nursery Association’s annual meeting in Atlanta on August 7.
The Slater Wight Memorial Award is awarded annually by the SNA board of directors in memory the late J. Slater Wight, and recognizes the person who has contributed the most to the advancement and welfare of the nursery industry in the South and the SNA. It is considered to be the SNA’s most prestigious award.
“I’m honored to be recognized by the SNA Board,” Gawel said. “To receive an honor of this magnitude is very humbling.”
Karen Summers, executive vice president of the association, noted how much Gawel deserved the award, saying his passion for, and dedication to the industry, does not go unnoticed.
“In his voluntary role as director of Horticultural Research, he coordinates the annual SNA Research Conference,” she said. “The SNA board felt it was time for him to join the ranks of other industry leaders who have received this lifetime achievement award, although we are certain there are many more years of service to come.”
Gawel has been associated with the organization for nearly 20 years and has served as assistant director of research (2005-08) and director of research (2008-present). In this voluntary role he is responsible for coordinating the annual SNA Research Conference, the longest running woody ornamental research conference in the country.
He received his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University and worked for United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service in Griffin, Ga., and Phoenix prior to joining Tennessee State University in 1993. Gawel’s research area is plant breeding and genetics, phylogenic analysis, and molecular markers, and has published numerous research papers.
For his part, Gawel gives credit to the tradition and cooperative nature of the nursery industry, and the SNA for his own accomplishments.
“Any success I have in this industry is directly due to the help and assistance I have received from industry members,” he said. “This industry, America’s true green, sustainable industry, is a great one to be associated with.”