A memorial tribute honoring Marc van Iersel has been established through the American Floral Endowment (AFE). Dr. Marc van Iersel, Researcher and Professor at the University of Georgia, peacefully passed away on April 20, 2023, at the age of 57, with his wife, Lynne, and friend/former student, Claudia Elkins, at his side. Marc was hugely impactful to the floral industry through his research and teaching.
Marc van Iersel was a horticulturist who pioneered intelligent systems that changed the way food and ornamental plants are grown. His approach was simple and direct: ask plants what they need and then automatically provide it. He published over 150 scientific papers with global influence and was invited to lecture about his research around the world, including Italy, Spain, Taiwan, Kenya, Canada, China, Chile, and Brazil.
Marc was the Vincent J. Dooley Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, where he spent most of his career from 1995 on. Marc oversaw the UGA Horticulture Physiology Laboratory focused on photosynthesis and light use efficiency research. He also worked on applied research in controlled agriculture environments.
As a professor of horticulture, Marc developed biofeedback systems that measure soil moisture and use optical sensors to automatically control the amount of water and light provided to plants in greenhouses and vertical farms. The results had lasting impacts leading to happier, healthier plants with a smaller carbon footprint and cost.
Marc’s highly influential research was funded by AFE for the last decade, including a current project on fluorescence imaging aimed at being a low-cost method for early stress detection. “Marc provided the flower industry with practical information based on sound science. He anticipated the needs of growers and sought funding to improve production and flower quality,” noted Dr. Terril Nell, AFE’s Research Director.
One of Marc’s well-known works was his leadership of Project LAMP, which focused on identifying the optimal light intensity and spectrum for the profitable production of crops in greenhouses and plant factories. Project LAMP brought together plant scientists, engineers, and economists.
Marc was the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the 2019 UGA Entrepreneur of the Year and fellow of the American Society of Horticulture Science. In 2017, he co-founded Candidus, Inc. with Erico Mattos, where they transitioned greenhouse lighting technologies to products.
Marc is survived by his loving wife, Lynne Seymour; brothers and sister (in-laws) Ruud (Yvonne) van Iersel, Yvonne (Rob) Deussen, and Frank van Iersel; nieces and nephews Floor and Sjors Deussen, and Sara and Yuri van Iersel; his in-laws, Eddie and Peggy Seymour, Sandi (Pawel) Antoniak, Erik (Kelly) Hussey, and Annabel Antoniak; a multitude of human friends as well as his six beloved pets; and a small army of students and colleagues who will continue his work and legacy.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, May 2, at the Day Chapel at the UGA Botanical Gardens from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. RSVP for the service at https://forms.office.com/r/rs952sgLwv.
In remembrance of Marc, please consider a donation to the Marc van Iersel Memorial Tribute. Donations can be made online here or by sending a check with this form to:
American Floral Endowment
c/o Marc van Iersel Memorial Tribute
610 Madison Street, Ste. 101, PMB 803
Alexandria, VA 22314