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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS names new associate vice president

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS

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Jeanna Mastrodicasa

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A 17-year University of Florida administrator and chairwoman of a key Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences committee has been named associate vice president of operations for UF/IFAS.

Jeanna Mastrodicasa worked for seven years as UF assistant vice president for student affairs before being appointed to the post by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. She also serves as chair of the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education Advisory Board.

The PIE Center provides trusted communications research on current and emerging issues within agriculture and natural resources. Through the research, the center can more clearly determine how people form and act on opinions about these issues and provide recommendations for making strong messages.

Mastrodicasa will assume her new role Feb. 1.

“One of my goals is to learn as much as I can about what we do in IFAS,” she said. “It’s a statewide organization. I’m interested in listening. I want to know, ‘what can I do to help?’ I think it will be fun and exciting. It all comes back to relationships. That’s what makes IFAS and UF more successful.”

(more …)

A banner year for UF/IFAS in 2014

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Uncategorized
The University of Florida's historic College of Agriculture building.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida hired a new, land-grant-oriented president, brought on board preeminent faculty, celebrated Extension’s centennial, opened new facilities and made strides in fighting citrus greening.

Those actions top a brief list of accomplishments for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in 2014. Here are 10 achievements by UF/IFAS faculty, staff Extension agents and students: (more …)

University of Florida experts predict food trends for 2015

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For the second year, University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members predict the food-related trends that could end up on your dinner plates and grocery store shelves in 2015:

Wow, that’s … pungent: Americans continue to develop a fondness for fermented foods, which often create strong, unique flavors in such products as kimchi, sauerkraut, beer, wine and yogurt.  Besides being fun to eat, such foods are said to be good for digestive health. Doug Archer, dlarcher@ufl.edu, 352-392-1784, 352-392-5507.

Cheetos have left the (school) building:  School foods will continue to become healthier, thanks to Smart Snacks in School standards that took effect earlier this school year. For instance, a pack of cookies might be replaced by light popcorn; a vending machine chocolate bar by a small serving of peanuts. Karla Shelnutt, kpagan@ufl.edu, 352-273-3535.

(more …)

UF/IFAS citizen science project abuzz over bees, wasps

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Citizen scientists around the world are busy as bees for a University of Florida study.

A global movement called “citizen science” is gaining traction, as scientists give lay people protocols so they can collect valid data.

In this case, participants build and monitor artificial nesting habitats suitable for solitary bees and wasps. Many bees and wasps live in social colonies. Solitary ones keep to themselves and nest in tunnels.

Among methods used to build homes for the bees and wasps, participants drilled holes in wood, rock, cement or clay while others provided bamboo stems or other hollow tubes.

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers used social media and websites to enroll and train citizen scientists for the project. Between April 2012 and July 2014, 655 people from 30 Florida counties, 39 states and 11 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Spain and Switzerland, registered for the Native Buzz project at www.ufnativebuzz.com to participate in the project.

During the first two years of the study, residents built 10,657 potential nests from various materials. Participants monitored their nest sites weekly to see if bees and wasps established nests in the available materials.

Results showed citizen scientists can build and monitor artificial nesting habitats for bees and wasps, a process that helps entomologists collect bee and wasp nesting data from a large geographic range.

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CALS Student Excellence Fund to honor longtime UF/IFAS employee

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS

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Emelie Mattews

GAINESVILLE, Fla. ─ Graduating transfer students in the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences can soon receive a special award named for a 35-year CALS employee.

The new CALS Student Excellence Fund will be renamed to honor college Admissions Coordinator Emelie Matthews, a longtime Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and CALS employee, when she retires next year.

In her position, Matthews works primarily with transfer students. She has been working for UF for 35 years. For 12 of those, Matthews also has served as an adviser for Sigma Alpha, a professional agricultural sorority.

“I’ve always tried to look at what’s best for the students and guide them, so that they can go out and be successful individuals,” Matthews said.
(more …)

New marketing help for smaller growers

Topic(s): Announcements, Economics, IFAS

Gainesville, Fla. – Small- and mid-sized growers often cite marketing as one of their greatest challenges. Yet, there never seems to be enough time or money to promote your products directly to those who may want to purchase them. Florida MarketMaker and Florida Food Connect are two resources managed by UF/IFAS that aim to help alleviate the burden of marketing for Florida’s growers. While Florida MarketMaker unites growers with potential markets throughout the state, Florida Food Connect is a tool that links schools with the local producers who can meet their needs.

Florida MarketMaker provides a free and simple, yet powerful, web-based search tool to connect with others across the food production and distribution chain. It is the largest and most in-depth food-related database of its kind, featuring a diverse community of more than 81,000 Florida businesses:  farmers/ranchers, fisheries, seafood dealers, farmers markets, food hubs, food pantries, processors/packers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, wineries, restaurants and other types of buyers.

Essentially, MarketMaker gives growers the power to create their own searchable websites, opening the door for a flood of buyers to discover them.

(more …)

Neighborhood designs can cut carbon emissions, electric costs

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Green Living, Research

Marl Hostetler-Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. Photo by Eric Zamora

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A big tree next to your house can do more than just save home-cooling costs, it will also cut carbon emissions, University of Florida researchers say.

Trees shade houses so that less energy is needed to cool them. But trees, especially older ones, also store and sequester carbon. Through photosynthesis, trees sequester ─ or capture ─ carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create energy for growth. This carbon is then stored in the tree as long as the tree remains alive. Trees store carbon in their leaves, branches, trunks, stems and roots.

Carbon dioxide is released through electricity use, home heating, waste and transportation, among other activities, said UF wildlife ecology and conservation professor Mark Hostetler. Through photosynthesis, trees can offset the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a house through carbon storage and sequestration.

With UF experts projecting the state to grow from 19 million now to 25 million in 2040, more land will be needed for housing, commercial and recreational uses. With a population increase comes more need for fossil fuels for heating, cooling and transportation and usually wildlife habitat losses, said Richard Vaughn, one of Hostetler’s former master’s students.

“While climate change mitigation takes place on many levels, I focused on the city level,” Vaughn said. “Cities are increasingly trying to offset carbon dioxide emissions, and new residential developments are a major source of such emissions. Our study offers a viable mitigation strategy that addresses many of these issues.”

With a goal of storing more carbon, Vaughn studied how to design conservation-friendly neighborhoods. Using tree data and a model, Vaughn examined how to design a subdivision for maximum tree carbon storage and sequestration.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researcher helps to unravel mysteries of fungi biodiversity

Topic(s): Environment, IFAS, Research, Uncategorized
Fungi can be found most anywhere.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Scientists have long tracked the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies, studied the longevity of the redwoods and know how the melting of the ice caps is affecting polar bears. But, until now, it has been difficult to keep tabs on the poor, humble fungi – another of the world’s lesser-known, yet diverse groups of multicellular living creatures. And new research shows there could be a new variety living in your backyard. (more …)

New UF/IFAS preeminent researcher’s paper earns international journal award

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS

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Arie Havelaar speaks at UF.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – An international journal has chosen a paper by a University of Florida professor hired as part of UF’s Preeminence Plan as one of its best papers of 2014.

The paper, titled, “Impact of Acquired Immunity and Dose-Dependent Probability of Illness on Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment,” was published in Risk Analysis and co-authored by Arie Havelaar and Arno Swart.

It presents a study that urges the public health community to carefully take acquired immunity into account to improve estimates of the potential impacts of infectious diseases and to help prevent and manage them.

(more …)

UF/IFAS hires preeminent faculty to research food systems, food safety, epidemiology and more

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS

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Arie Havelaar

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James Anderson

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Karen Garrett

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It doesn’t take long to figure out that James Anderson is not prone to easy platitudes.

The new University of Florida faculty member sees the large, systemic picture with its endless combinations of factors, each with the ability to make a food system succeed or collapse.

He sees the world as a complex and dynamic web of international trade, markets, regulatory institutions, diverse cultures and values, technology, environmental and biophysical interactions.

As the former leader of the global program on fisheries and aquaculture at the World Bank with expertise in food and resource economics, he sees connections everywhere: “When you eat farmed tilapia in Miami it impacts peoples’ lives and habitat in China; when the U.S. uses corn to produce ethanol to run our cars, the price of tacos in Mexico goes up; and when fisheries are depleted in Somalia and their food distribution systems fails, we end up with pirates in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.”

That kind of shades-of-gray thinking made Anderson the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ choice to lead its new food systems research hub.

Additional faculty members hired for the effort are Arie Havelaar, a globally-known expert in the spread of microbial food-borne illness; and Kansas State University professor Karen Garrett, an expert in epidemiology and modeling technology impact on agricultural systems.

(more …)

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