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A perennial 'Hardy': Edwards still excels at UGA

Jan. 23, 2003

Writer: Cat Holmes (706) 542-8960 (

Source: Hardy Edwards (706) 542-1351 (

A perennial ‘hardy’: Edwards still excels at UGA

By Cat Holmes

University of Georgia

When Hardy Edwards began his University of Georgia research and teaching career on Nov. 1, 1957, Sputnik I had been orbiting Earth less than a month. Television was black-and-white, and the campus wasn’t ? it was still four years before integration.

Nearly everything has changed, said Edwards, a renowned poultry scientist who was recently recognized for his 45 years at UGA, the longest tenure of any faculty member now.

“One of the things you learn to adjust to, if you stay around an institution as long as I’ve stayed at the University of Georgia, is change,” Edwards said with a laugh. “Mine is a dynamic field. And both the university and the world have changed a great deal.”

At 73, Edwards continues to conduct research, guide graduate students and teach classes. Indeed, “the last 20 years have been particularly fruitful,” he said. “I’ve had a really fun and rewarding career here. When I came to UGA, I decided I would not lay around, and I haven’t.”

Born in Ruston, La., in 1929, Edwards graduated from Southwestern Louisiana Institute in 1949. He got a master’s degree from Florida in 1950 and a PhD from Cornell in 1953, when he was just 23.

“I was the youngest person at Cornell at that time to have received a PhD,” Edwards said. “Can you imagine what a big head I had as a young man?”

Drafted into the Army then, he served for two years. “The army did me a lot of good,” he said. “You know what they say about Cornell students: ‘You can always tell them because you can’t tell them much.’ In the Army, I was a private and spent two years picking up cigarette butts off the ground. I needed that.”

For Edwards’ first 15 years, he developed a highly respected research program in poultry and animal nutrition, with emphasis on lipid and mineral metabolism. He co-discovered the condition, cause and prevention of X disease in chickens and the antibiotic growth response in animals.

Edwards spent a year as a research associate in physiological chemistry at the University of Lund in Sweden in 1964-65.

He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1972 and spent it at the Institute of National Research in Agriculture in Tours, France, and the Applied Biology Department at Cambridge, England.

Promoted to professor in 1966, Edwards became the UGA graduate dean in 1972. For the next seven years, he came to appreciate the UGA’s “top-notch” programs.

In 1979, he returned to poultry science, building a new research program focused on the cause and prevention of leg abnormalities in poultry and on phytate phosphorous utilization by poultry. This work has resulted in four U.S. patents.

In 1984, he was a visiting professor for the National Institute of Animal Science in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a Danish Agricultural and Veterinary Research Council Fellow.

In 1991, in the House of Commons in London, he was presented the Tom Newman International Award for contributions to poultry research.

Edwards now studies vitamin D requirements of broiler/breeder chickens and the vitamin’s effects on their progeny.

“I’m interested in how this may affect immune responses,” he said. “All kinds of cancers have been linked to Vitamin D deficiency. This isn’t a backwater area. This is an area that’s moving fast.”

Edwards still lives on the same farm he bought with his wife, Aldies, in 1957 and where their son, Hardy III, grew up. On 170 acres between Winterville and Hull, he continues to manage a cow-calf farm, though he says he’s starting to slow down.

“Five years ago I could stack a hay wagon by myself,” he said. “But some of these things require physical labor I’m no longer equal to.”

He may not be stacking hay wagons, but with three articles being published, a graduate course this semester and an active research program, he’s certainly living up to his name.

(Cat Holmes is a science writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Cat Holmes was a science writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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