IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS researcher wins global award for space life sciences

Topic(s): Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, New Technology, Research

FERL AWARD 072016

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A UF/IFAS horticultural sciences professor, known worldwide for research on growing plants in space, has won the 2016 Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award.

The award is given to a member of the aerospace exploration community who embodies the innovation and insight exemplified by American physician, John Jeffries, who was the first person — back in 1786 — to utilize aeronautics to collect scientific data.

Robert Ferl, who researches how plants can grow in space, won the award. Specifically, Ferl was cited for conducting cutting-edge space biology research and for mentoring others in spaceflight research, pushing the boundaries of where biology can travel.

“I was surprised and enormously honored to win the award,” said Ferl, who was recognized this month in Vienna, Austria. “For a space biologist, recognition by the engineers — the rocket builders, the space suit designers, the people who plan the missions — is a huge honor that acknowledges the role of fundamental science in moving life into space.”

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Entomologist joins UF/IFAS to help solve citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS, New Technology, RECs, Research

Qureshi

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – An entomologist with 10 years of research focused on the state’s iconic citrus industry has joined the faculty of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Indian River Research and Education Center.

Named Entomologist of the Year in 2012 by the Florida Entomological Society, Jawwad A. Qureshi was selected for a new position as assistant professor of entomology at UF/IFAS IRREC, near Fort Pierce, Florida. The UF/IFAS Fort Pierce location is part of the university’s statewide service to agriculture, providing research, extension and education for producers.

“Dr. Qureshi is one of the world’s few entomologists who have expertise in integrated pest management focused specifically on citrus,” said UF/IFAS IRREC interim director Ronald D. Cave. “His work is much needed in the region known worldwide for the highest quality fresh citrus product.”

According to Cave, Qureshi’s expertise with insect pest management for the citrus industry is critically valuable to the state’s citrus industry at a time when huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, has had a negative impact on the crop statewide.

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UF/IFAS expert has five back-to-school tips for busy families

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Randy Cantrell knows how to make things run smoothly. As both a father and a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher who studies how households can live harmoniously, he’s nearly always thinking about how best to keep a family in sync.

Some of Cantrell’s recent research has focused on what he calls “homeflow.” Homeflow measures how well a family works together to maintain an organized living space and routine.

“The family unit and the dwelling are not separate things but part of one system,” Cantrell explained.

With the start of the school year just around the corner, Cantrell recognizes that getting kids ready and out the door is a challenge for many households. Check out Cantrell’s five tips for keeping the peace and establishing your own homeflow.

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UF/IFAS research could lead to more and healthier sorghum

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, IFAS, Research

Dr. Wilfred Vermerri, associate professor, Department of Agronomy, performs detailed compositional analyses of improved bioenergy sorghums using a mass spectrometer in his laboratory at the University of Florida Genetics Institute.  2010 Annual Research Report Photo.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has identified two areas of the sorghum genome that could boost the plant’s resistance to the anthracnose disease.

This finding could be a key to expanding sorghum production in the Southeast, said Wilfred Vermerris, an associate professor of microbiology and cell science with UF/IFAS. Most sorghum does not grow well in the Southeast because the hot and humid weather provides ideal conditions for the growth of the fungus that causes anthracnose, with leaf blight and stem rot as its symptoms.

Sorghum is a source for table syrup and cattle feed that also shows great potential as a source for biofuel. It a huge grain: By acreage, it’s the fifth largest cereal crop in the world and the third largest in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2014, the U.S. was the largest producer of sorghum in the world.

For the latest study, Vermerris and other UF scientists used ‘Bk7,’ an anthracnose-resistant grain sorghum developed by Dan Gorbet, a professor emeritus of agronomy at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center.

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New method could quash squash pests

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS, Pests, Research

Dr. Oscar Liburd conducts research on the management of thrips in blueberries.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida grows more zucchini squash than anywhere else in America – to the tune of $70 million a year. To help improve production, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are developing a method to keep squash pests at bay.

For a newly published study, Janine Spies, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS entomology department, simultaneously planted buckwheat with squash and found the method kept pests away while retaining yields at current levels. Furthermore, she and her colleagues manipulated how they planted buckwheat and squash.

“Pests like whiteflies and aphids transmit viruses to squash and can significantly reduce yield, and the money we make on squash,” Spies said. “This is why it is important to reduce the number of whiteflies and aphids that land on squash and to prevent the transmission of viruses.”

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Florida Youth Institute lets high schoolers explore a future in agricultural and life sciences

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As 22 high schoolers step onto the manicured turf of Florida Field, Jason Kruse, associate professor of environmental horticulture, explains how maintaining a football field involves more than fertilizer and regular mowing. Rather, he says, it’s research from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences that keeps the field green for fans and safe for athletes.

This lesson is just one of several activities that comprise the Florida Youth Institute (FYI), a week-long summer program sponsored by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the World Food Prize Foundation.  The program gives rising juniors and seniors a chance to explore emerging issues in agriculture, life sciences and natural resources while also giving them a taste of college life.

“FYI was created with an overall goal of engaging youth with issues in agricultural and natural resource sciences that affect Florida, the U.S. and world food security,” said Elaine Turner, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “Ultimately, we hope to grow the talent pipeline by connecting students to academic programs in CALS that will prepare them for careers in agricultural and natural resource sciences.”

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UF/IFAS 4-H welcomes Miss America 2016 to 4-H University on July 25

Topic(s): 4-H, Announcements, Families and Consumers, IFAS

MISS AMERICA 2016

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell, will deliver the keynote address at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension 4-H University. The event will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Monday, July 25 at the UF Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

4-H University, UF IFAS Extension Florida 4-H’s flagship leadership event, is a weeklong overnight workshop for young adults ages 14 to 18, said Travis Shepard, UF/IFAS Extension state 4-H events coordinator. Attendees will participate in educational workshops led by UF/IFAS faculty, explore career opportunities and lead community service activities, he said.

“Students will not only interact with youth from across the state, but will also have fun while developing critical life skills that will help them become productive and engaged citizens,” Shepard said.

Cantrell, a 4-H alumna from Warner Robins, Georgia, will speak about the importance of setting goals and following your dreams, and the impact 4-H has had on her life, Shepard said. “She’ll also grace us with a song or two, and tell us about her experiences thus far as Miss America.”

According to Shepard, students are excited to meet a 4-H alumna who has realized her dreams. “We are thrilled to have such an accomplished and relatable 4-H alum serve as the keynote speaker of our opening ceremony,” he said.

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Travis Shepard, 352-294-2901, t.shepard@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS-developed web tool saves money for strawberry growers in several states

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs, Research

Strawberry forecasting feature photos for the 2010 IFAS Annual Research Report.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A UF/IFAS-developed web tool – which has been shown to save Florida strawberry growers $1.7 million a year – is now being used in several other states, including Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina and California.

Florida’s strawberry crop is worth $300 million a year. It’s also important to the national economy. For example, in 2014, the United States produced 3 billion pounds of strawberries, valued at nearly $2.9 billion, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Florida ranks second to California in strawberry production.

While gaining a foothold in other states, the tool is getting more useful, thanks to work by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers. Scientists have found a promising model to simulate leaf wetness in plants of strawberries.

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Finding Dory: UF/IFAS researchers find first-ever method to farm Pacific Blue Tang

Topic(s): Announcements, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research
Blue Tang breeding in captivity news release on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016. Photo by Tyler Jones.

Blue Tang breeding in captivity./Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Finally, it may be possible for regular folks to find their own Dory, as researchers with the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory have successfully raised the Pacific Blue Tang in captivity. This is the first time that researchers have been able to raise the blue fish that now stars in a Disney movie.

“Like many research successes, it took a team of two UF biologists, faculty, graduate students and other staff to make it happen,” said Craig Watson, director of the UF Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, which is part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “We worked with Rising Tide Conservation and the SeaWorld-Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to find a way to successfully breed Pacific Blue Tangs. It was a delicate, time-intensive endeavor, but one that has paid off.”

The project began approximately six years ago, when Watson was approached by Judy St. Leger from Rising Tide Conservation, Watson said. The program’s primary goal is to develop production technologies for key marine ornamental species, including Pacific Blue Tang, he said.

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Celebrate Florida agriculture and natural resources, cheer on the Florida Gators Oct. 15

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

Spectators and fans in the stands of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during a UF football game.  Photo taken 11-07-15

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmers, ranchers, landscapers – and everyone in between – are invited to celebrate Agriculture and Gardening Day at the University of Florida’s homecoming football game, Oct. 15, 2016.

UF Athletics and the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are hosting the event and offering discounted tickets to anyone connected to agriculture in the state, including their families and friends.

“Florida’s agricultural, natural resources and related food industries add $140 billion to our economy and employ nearly 300,000 people,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “The industry is second only to tourism in Florida, and this is a great way to honor and recognize those who work so hard to put food on our tables and plants and flowers in our yards.”

The Gators are playing the University of Missouri Tigers, and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with limited seating available in the upper south end zone for $35 and the upper north end zone for $20.

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