Eric Reasor, a doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee, and Mengyi “Tina” Gu, a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida, will be attending their first Golf Industry Show (GIS), Feb. 4-9 in Orlando, thanks to $5,000 Watson Fellowship grants.
The Watson Fellowships are funded by a partnership between The Toro Company and GCSAA's philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG). The fellowship, started in 1998, is named after the late James R. Watson, Ph.D., a vice president for Toro and a pioneer in turfgrass research. The winning students working in postgraduate degree programs have been identified as promising future teachers and researchers in the field of golf course management.
“I feel honored to be a small part of the history of this award,” said Reasor, 25, who is studying turfgrass weed science with the hope of becoming a faculty professor upon graduation in May. “Being in graduate school, we get to go to educational conferences, but I am really looking forward to meeting many of the superintendents who work in the industry. There are some great people in this industry.”
Reasor (pictured left) grew up on a family-owned dairy farm in Rural Retreat, Va., and earned his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech, where he learned what he wanted in his career.
“My goal is to one day have a research program focusing in turfgrass weed science, but I want to continue studying plant growth regulators, ultradwarf bermudagrasses and off-type grasses too,” said Reasor.
“I thought I would never win this,” said Gu, 27, who earned her undergraduate degree at Northeast Agriculture University in her native China. “It is wonderful that I will get the chance to meet superintendents at the Golf Industry Show and learn more about what is important to them.”
Gu (pictured left) had planned to study landscaping before she made her first trip to the United States in 2011 for a six-month internship at the University of Oklahoma, but found herself more and more interested in turfgrass management. She will earn her advanced degree from Florida in July 2018 and is hoping to work in research and development for a golf industry company.
“We are proud to partner with GCSAA to recognize Eric and Mengyi for their outstanding accomplishments,” said Dana Lonn, managing director of Toro’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology. “We look forward to their contributions as the next generation of science leaders in the turfgrass community.”
Watson was a leading authority on turfgrasses and was vice president for customer relations and chief agronomist for Toro. The winner of the USGA Green Section Award in 1976 and the 1977 Agronomic Service Award by the American Society of Agronomy, Watson was named a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America in 1979. He also won the 1991 Harry Gill Memorial Award from the Sports Turf Managers Association; the Old Tom Morris Award, a special GCSAA honor, in 1995; and the Donald Rossi Award from the Golf Course Builders Association of America.
Over the course of five decades at Toro, Watson conducted research on adaptability of species and strains of turfgrasses, fertilization practices, snow mold prevention techniques for the winter protection of turfgrasses and more. He authored more than 400 popular articles on turfgrass cultural practices and water conservation.