IFAS News

University of Florida

Rosemary Loria appointed chair of UF plant pathology department

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, Environment, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs, Research

Rosemary Loria

 

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Cornell University professor has been selected as chair of the University of Florida’s plant pathology department, UF officials announced today.

Rosemary Loria, a plant pathology professor at Cornell University, was named to chair the department by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. She begins Aug. 19 and will also be a plant pathology professor.

Loria has been a faculty member at Cornell for more than 30 years and served as chair of Cornell’s plant pathology department for five years.

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UF develops method to make plastic from discarded plant material

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Plastic may compete with paper in the grocery line, but it doesn’t have to compete with the world’s food supply, according to University of Florida researchers.

They’ve developed a way to produce plastic that doesn’t use valuable natural resources, such as food or fuel, for raw materials.

The new method uses a strain of bacteria to create bioplastic from discarded plant material, such as yard waste.

Bioplastic, or plastic from renewable resources, is produced when an organism such as a bacterium creates lactic acid while fermenting carbohydrates. The lactic acid can then be converted into long chains of molecules to form plastic.

Current bioplastic production uses food carbohydrates, such as cane sugar or corn starch, as raw materials. Traditional plastic production requires petroleum.

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Charles Steinmetz Hall dedication

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, New Technology, Pests

 

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Charles Steinmetz, a retired pest management company owner, addresses the audience at a ceremony to rename the University of Florida’s entomology and nematology department building, at the UF main campus in Gainesville – Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Steinmetz and his wife, Lynn, recently donated $5 million to the department to support academic and research programs. In recognition of the gift, UF renamed the building Charles Steinmetz Hall. At the ceremony, Steinmetz reminisced about his undergraduate days at UF and some of his career milestones. UF/IFAS photo by Dawn McKinstry

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station holds fourth annual awards event

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dozens of distinguished researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences were honored May 19 at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station’s fourth annual awards ceremony.

The event, held at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, recognized faculty members and graduate students from around the state. They were honored for accomplishments in 2010, which ranged from research papers to patented plant varieties to membership in prestigious academic organizations, said Mark McLellan, IFAS dean for research and director of the experiment station, known as FAES.

“This is a very special celebration, because the honorees have devoted so much time and effort to work that occurs far from the spotlight—in laboratories, in libraries and in the field,” McLellan said. “It’s great to give them an evening where their colleagues say ‘we appreciate what you’re doing’ and let them get a little better sense of how important their work is.”

The research arm of UF’s entire land-grant enterprise, FAES supports research activities by College of Agricultural and Life Sciences personnel in Gainesville and at 13 research and education centers statewide.

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Tips geared for older adults available in updated UF/IFAS disaster-planning guide

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Extension, Families and Consumers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you’re an older person living on your own or if an older adult relies on you for help, the next few weeks are a perfect time to spend creating a disaster plan, a University of Florida researcher says.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and preparations can take a little longer and require a bit more attention to detail for older adults and their caregivers, said UF’s Linda Bobroff, a family, youth and community sciences professor who helped update a guide that outlines exactly how to become prepared. Bobroff, who specializes in food and nutrition, is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The guide, called Disaster Planning Tips for Older Adults, is available at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy620.

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Teresa Balser appointed dean of UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Environment, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Wisconsin-Madison administrator has been selected as dean of the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF officials announced today.

Teresa Balser, director of the UW-Madison Institute for Biology Education, was named to lead the college by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. She begins July 1. Balser will also be a professor with the soil and water science department.

“Dr. Balser has great vision for the revitalization of the land grant ideals,” Payne said. “She also brings a great passion for teaching and a wonderful enthusiasm for positioning higher education to be leaders in the coming age by leveraging our capacity for creativity and growing diversity.”

Balser said she looks forward to the opportunities and challenges the position provides, and plans to place special emphasis on critical issues such as food and energy security.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be selected,” Balser said. “CALS has so many strengths to build upon. I am excited about the possibilities for the future, and I look forward to joining the Gator Nation and working with all of our students, staff and faculty.”

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UF researchers develop method to remove phosphate from water, using biochar

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, New Technology, Pollution

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Phosphate poses one of Florida’s ongoing water-quality challenges but a process developed by University of Florida researchers could provide an affordable solution, using partially burned organic matter called biochar to remove the mineral.

The process also yields methane gas usable as fuel and phosphate-laden carbon suitable for enriching soil, according to Bin Gao and Pratap Pullammanappallil, assistant professors in UF’s agricultural and biological engineering department, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Crop wastes would provide raw material for the biochar.

A laboratory study demonstrating the effectiveness of biochar for phosphate removal appears in the current issue of the journal Bioresource Technology.

The study involved beet tailings, which are culled beets, scraps and weeds removed from shipments of sugar beets destined for processing to make sugar, said Gao, one of the authors. In the U.S., sugar beets are grown primarily in the Northeast and upper Midwest, but the technology can be adapted to other materials, he said.

“It’s really sustainable,” Gao said. “We will see if it can be commercialized.”

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University of Florida faculty win $5.4 million grant to study sorghum for energy

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Environment, New Technology

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida-led research team has won a four-year, $5.4 million federal grant to develop methods of producing energy from a familiar southern crop, sweet sorghum.

Known as a source of table syrup and cattle feed, sweet sorghum is also one of the region’s most promising feedstocks for making fuel ethanol, said Mark McLellan, dean for research with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The grant is part of a $47 million package announced earlier this month to support eight bioenergy projects nationwide, McLellan said. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy, the package is part of a federal effort to reduce dependence on imported oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions associated with petroleum fuels.

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UF: Insecticide resistance developing in psyllid that carries citrus disease

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, Uncategorized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In Florida’s war against citrus greening, producers face a new threat — the insects they’re fighting are becoming less sensitive to insecticides, according to a new University of Florida study.

“Our investigations to date are showing that insecticide resistance in Asian citrus psyllids is a reality,” said Lukasz Stelinski, an author of the study and an entomologist at UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

“Resistance is showing up,” he said. “But the levels that we have documented to date are not high enough to cause product failures.”

Greening was first detected in Florida in 2005 and is a major threat to Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry. The incurable disease has wiped out citrus crops in other parts of the world.

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