Honoring and remembering the distinguished life, career and contributions of Horticultural Science Professor, Dr. Douglas C. (Doug) Sanders

Dr. Doug Sanders played a significant role in the research team for Integrated AquaVegeculture Systems (iAVs). He was a part of the investigative team and advisory body that conducted scientific investigations on iAVs. His expertise in vegetable production systems and their worldwide application was instrumental in the development and success of iAVs. He worked closely with other team members, including the inventor of iAVs, Dr. Mark McMurtry, to link fish and vegetable production.

Douglas Charles Sanders, better known as Doug, was a respected Professor of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University, Raleigh. He was recognized worldwide for his expertise in vegetable production. Doug developed his love for plants and horticulture at a young age while growing up on a family farm in Mason, Michigan.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Vegetable Crops in 1965 from Michigan State University. He further pursued his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Horticulture in 1967 and 1970, respectively, from the University of Minnesota.

Doug began his professional career at North Carolina State University in 1970 as an assistant professor specializing in Vegetable Production. He was promoted to full professor in 1982.

Dr. Sanders was tirelessly committed to the teaching and research of vegetable production systems and their application worldwide. His life was filled with numerous accomplishments and recognitions, as he provided leadership in many facets of the vegetable industry. Doug worked closely with North Carolina farmers and county extension agents to improve their vegetable production knowledge. His advice was sought after by all who worked with vegetables, not only in NC, but also in the U.S. and around the world.

His accomplishments included the establishment of the NC Vegetable Growers Association, the introduction of numerous new vegetable technologies (drip irrigation, plasticulture, precision seeding) and the introduction of new crops to NC such as asparagus, broccoli, sweet onions and leaf lettuce. Dr. Sanders served as Vice President of the Extension Division of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) in 1992-93. In 1992 Doug was named a Fellow of ASHS, and he received (posthumously) the Outstanding International Horticulturist award at the ASHS Annual Conference in New Orleans in July 2006. He was President of the Southern Region ASHS in 2000.

Dr. Sanders distinguished himself as a horticulturist with 38 trips abroad in the last two decades. He mentored many students from Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, China and Thailand. Dr. Sanders taught undergraduate and graduate students and utilized new distance education technologies to reach audiences across North Carolina. He personally advised 21 graduate students. Doug was a tireless worker with a passion for horticultural science and seemingly boundless amounts of energy. All who knew him benefited from his innovative ideas, unselfish encouragement and thoughtfulness.

Dr. Sanders passed away on April 7, 2006. He is survived by his loving wife Ellen and sister, Mary Sanders. To honor his legacy, an endowment has been established to benefit research activities on sustainable vegetable production and food safety. The term sustainable is used in the broadest sense to indicate environmentally sound production practices that are compatible with profitability for growers.

This endowment will be titled, “Douglas C. Sanders Horticultural Research Endowment,” and managed by the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation. The endowment has been established to provide support for research in the area of sustainable vegetable production and/or food safety in the Horticultural Science Department at NC State University. The income from the endowment will support graduate students’ research on sustainable vegetable production and/or food safety in the Department on a competitive, proposal basis.



This blog is part of a series where we examine the members of the iAVs research team.

The research team for the Integrated AquaVegeculture System (iAVs) is distinguished by its scientific rigor and the credentials of its members. During the foundational research phase from 1984 to 1994, the team consisted of seven co-investigators from five disciplines, nine principal consultants, and contributions from over four dozen other consultants and technicians. This multidisciplinary team published work in five peer-reviewed journals and collaborated with faculty from 16 departments within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as other institutions.

The credibility of iAVs is further enhanced by the involvement of recognized professionals from various fields around the world. The research team has also collaborated with contributors from over 30 external institutions, including the USDA, which conducted a two-year commercial demonstration project.

This extensive collaboration and the team’s scientific background differentiate iAVs from similar systems. It is the only system in its category supported by credible science, research papers, and a significant trial period conducted under the auspices of the USDA.

The team’s dedication to empirical evidence and peer recognition, with 10 members being honored as “Fellow” in their respective fields, highlights the scientific foundation of iAVs.

Click here for the full list of the iAVs Research Team.


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Honoring and remembering the distinguished life, career and contributions of Horticultural Science Professor, Dr. Douglas C. (Doug) Sanders