Thierry Besançon, associate extension specialist in weed science for specialty crops, received the 2023 Outstanding Educator Award from the Northeastern Weed Science Society (NEWSS). He was also elected vice president of the NEWSS board.
Besançon was characteristically modest and credited the support of his Rutgers NJAES colleagues for the recognition he received from the weed science community at the 2023 joint annual meeting of the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and NEWSS in Arlington, VA.
“I wouldn’t have received the Outstanding Educator award without the help and support of all our Rutgers Extension community,” he said.
Besançon also received additional accolades at the same meeting that was held from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. This included the 2023 Outstanding Weed Science Journal Reviewer Award from the WSSA. He joined the WSSA Public Relations Committee, continuing his outstanding service to the weed science community.
His research at the NJAES Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension in Chatsworth, NJ, has been focused on weed control in cranberry and blueberry, and developing sustainable weed management strategies for specialty crops.
When he arrived at Rutgers in 2016, he was eager to start multidisciplinary collaborative research with other faculty members within the Department of Plant Biology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
“There are many new emerging challenges in specialty crops for efficient weed control, creating unique opportunities for research on alternative weed management strategies,” he said at the time.
Besançon grew up in Epinal in northeastern France and worked for 10 years in Europe on pests and disease management in stone fruit production. He came to the U.S. in 2010 to study for a Ph.D. in Crop Science at North Carolina State University, where he spent five years working on weed control through cultural practices and crop allelopathy in sorghum and other row crops of the southeastern United States.
For the past six years at Rutgers, Besançon has focused on developing Integrated Weed Management strategies for vegetable and small fruit cropping systems. Of particular interest to him is developing efficient management strategies for Carolina redroot, a native species that is a problematic weed of New Jersey cranberry bogs.
Besançon collaborates with other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic weed scientists to research how to integrate cover crops in plasticulture tomato and cucumber production systems. His focus on cover crops also includes evaluating red clover living mulch in cole crops and using goosegrass as a potential row-middle sod cover in New Jersey highbush blueberry where years of repeated cultivation have led to unsustainable soil pH and decrease in content of organic matter. Part of his research is also to investigate new spray technologies in perennial cropping systems to optimize herbicide use while maintaining excellent weed control efficacy.
He is also actively engaged with students, teaching “Introduction to Weed Science” and “Introduction to Horticulture,” and advising undergraduates and mentoring graduate students.
Besançon has been recognized with the Rutgers Extension Specialist of the Year award in 2019, the Rutgers Merle V. Adams Award for outstanding achievements by junior faculty in 2020 and the NEWSS Outstanding Researcher Award in 2021.