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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS study: Fatherly involvement with teenage girls may lead to safer sexual protection in college

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. ─ To paraphrase an old TV show title, Perhaps “Father (does) Know Best.”

Female students who said their dads were “involved” in their lives as teens are more likely to use protection when having sex in college, a positive sign for fathers in an era of increasingly single-parent homes, according to new University of Florida research.

For her master’s thesis in the UF/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Caroline Payne-Purvis analyzed responses from 748 college students in an introductory course at UF. About 60 percent were females, and 40 percent male.

Students answered 73 questions, which tried to find out, among other things, aspects of the participants’ adolescent years, their parents’ level of involvement when the students still lived at home, how often they now engage in sexual behaviors, including intercourse and their contraception use during various sexual behaviors.

Payne-Purvis found female students who said their father was “involved” in their lives as teens used condoms more frequently during intercourse.

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One fish, two fish ─ Camera counts freshwater fish, which could help combat hydrilla

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Conservation, Economics, Environment, IFAS
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A camera can accurately count freshwater fish, even in the thickest of underwater vegetation, a key finding for those who manage fisheries and control the invasive plant hydrilla, new University of Florida research shows.

The finding by UF/IFAS scientists can help researchers understand how many and which fish species are using dense plant habitats, said former UF/IFAS graduate student Kyle Wilson.

While cameras have been used to document fish behavior – including eating and breeding ─ this marks the first time scientists have used video to count fish in underwater plant habitats, Wilson said. In addition, no prior studies that used cameras to count fish verified their fish populations.

“It is commonly assumed that dense and invasive plants, like hydrilla, can drastically change fish habitat quality, primarily through changes in dissolved oxygen levels, water chemistry and habitat structure,” Wilson said. “Whether these changes are good or bad for fish has previously remained uncertain due to sampling problems in dense plant habitats. Using underwater cameras, we have shown that fish can and do use habitats we previously thought were too stressful for fish habitat.”

This is a big problem, especially with hydrilla, a plant that has invaded lakes throughout Florida, much of the U.S., Central America, South Africa and Australia, Wilson said. He estimated Florida spent up to $14 million per year throughout the 2000s to manage hydrilla, while the U.S. spent about $100 million per year in the 2000s for aquatic plant management.

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UF/IFAS names Wilson interim chair of environmental horticulture

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments, IFAS

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Sandra Wilson

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After 15 years as an environmental horticulture faculty member at the UF/IFAS research center in Fort Pierce, Sandra Wilson was honored when asked to take over the department at the university’s main campus in Gainesville.

But there were a lot of logistics involved. For one thing, she needed to relocate her husband, a UF/IFAS soil and water science professor, who also worked at the Indian River Research and Education Center. Not to mention their 7-year-old daughter, two dogs and three cats.

Still, the Wilsons have made the transition, and Sandra is the interim chair of the UF/IFAS Department of Environmental Horticulture. Wilson was appointed to the post by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.

“Dr. Wilson was a natural choice to lead our Environmental Horticulture Department,” Payne said. “Combine her outstanding teaching and research record, the leadership she has shown and the fact that the faculty support her, and we knew right away Dr. Wilson would lead the department to unparalleled heights.”

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Bicyclists willing to ride up to 3 miles to catch bus, train, UF/IFAS study shows

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, RECs, Research

Students commute on bicycles through campus.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – If three American metro areas are any indication, few people ride their bicycles to a bus or train station to commute to work, and those who do only travel an average of 1 to 2 miles. That suggests to a University of Florida researcher that American cities should make the 2-mile radius around transit hubs more bike-friendly.

Methods to do so could include installing bicycle lanes separated from vehicular traffic, adding off-street multipurpose paths for pedestrians and bicyclists and converting car lanes to bike-only lanes, said UF geomatics Associate Professor Henry Hochmair.

Hochmair reached his conclusions by studying data collected by transit agencies from passengers who rode trains and buses in three metro areas – Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

From those who completed the survey, Hochmair analyzed trips from 157 people in Los Angeles, 66 in Atlanta and 99 in Minneapolis who rode their bikes to access transit – 2.3 percent, 0.3 percent, and 4.2 percent, respectively. In Hochmair’s data analysis, those who opted to ride a bike to a transit hub cycled an average of 1 to 2 miles in Atlanta and the Twin Cities and 3 miles in Los Angeles.

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UF/IFAS study: Wheat yield to decline as temperatures increase

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Research, Weather

Research Assistant Jeremy Hall examines newly planted wheat at the UF/IFAS Plant Science Research & Education Unit Tuesday, January 13, 2015 in Citra, FLa.

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See video here: bit.ly/1Cbois7

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For every degree Celsius that the temperature increases, the world loses 6 percent of its wheat crop, according to a new global study led by a University of Florida scientist. That’s one fourth of the annual global wheat trade, which reached 147 million tons in 2013.

Senthold Asseng, a UF professor of agricultural and biological engineering, used a computer model approach to reach the finding of temperature increases and wheat production.

“We started this with wheat, as wheat is one of the world’s most important food crops,” said Asseng, whose team’s study was published online Dec. 22 in the journal Nature Climate Change. “The simulations with the multi-crop models showed that warming is already slowing yield gains, despite observed yield increases in the past, at a majority of wheat-growing locations across the globe.”

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UF/IFAS helping those in need eat healthy for the New Year

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables

Fresh vegetables at the farmers market.

SARASOTA, Fla. — Karen Maxey, 69, grew up on a farm eating fresh fruits and vegetables and maintained that healthy diet throughout her life.  But in 2007, the economy took a toll on her personal and professional life; she lost her real estate business and her home, and then her marriage collapsed.  She went back to school and graduated with a business degree at age 65, only to find her job search was in vain.

And so, though no fault of her own, she wound up a recipient of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – known as SNAP – which supplies her with $64 a month for food.

“So many seniors are really suffering,” said Maxey, who was thrilled when she found out that at some Florida farmer’s markets, her benefits could be doubled, up to $20, to enable her eat healthy, Florida-grown foods under a program called Fresh Access Bucks.  Some markets even double that per shopper, per market day, allowing SNAP recipients to purchase $40 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally. (more …)

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension leader tapped for UF/IFAS Extension associate dean post

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, IFAS

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Saqib Mukhtar

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service leader with extensive experience in environmental management and animal feeding operations has been named associate dean and agriculture program leader for UF/IFAS Extension.

Saqib Mukhtar, professor, associate department head and Extension program leader for Texas A&M’s Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, will join the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in April. He has several current commitments before he wraps up his transition from Texas A&M to UF/IFAS.

UF/IFAS Extension Dean Nick Place announced Mukhtar’s appointment Dec. 23, following a national search to replace the retiring Joan Dusky.

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UF/IFAS Extension and Bok Tower Gardens are partnering to teach a new generation about plants, gardening and the environment

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Nutrition, Vegetables

Bok Tower

LAKE WALES, Fla. — Among the music of carillon bells, beneath a lush oak canopy, a new partnership is emerging between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and historic Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL.

The partnership between the state’s preeminent land-grant university and this historic garden will provide onsite demonstration gardens, education programs and conservation research, as well as outreach programs to help people better see, appreciate, and connect with plants. A new school and community gardens program has already begun operations to teach food gardening to students and residents. (more …)

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