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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF CALS faculty, former students take home NACTA awards

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences faculty and former students won numerous awards recently at the 61st Annual Conference of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA).

“The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has a long tradition of excellence in teaching. NACTA provides a forum where our outstanding faculty are recognized for their contributions to teaching and student development,” said college Dean Elaine Turner.

NACTA Educator Awards went to:

  • Jane Bachelor, a senior lecturer in food and resource economics at the Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce.
  • Kate Fletcher, a lecturer in family, youth and community sciences.
  • Muthusami Kumaran, an assistant professor in family, youth and community sciences.
  • Bob McCleery, an associate professor in wildlife ecology and conservation.
  • Karla Shelnutt, an associate professor in family, youth and community sciences.

The NACTA Teaching Scholar Award went to Nicole Stedman, an associate professor of agricultural education and communication.

Recent doctoral graduate Cathy DiBenedetto won the NACTA Graduate Student Teaching Award for her work in agricultural education and communication.

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UF/IFAS researchers to testify before Congress about GMOs

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

Kevin Folta.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

Kevin Folta

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two UF/IFAS graduate students will advise a congressional committee as lawmakers question them about biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Chris Barbey and Alejandra Abril Guevara, doctoral students in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, will head to Washington D.C. with UF/IFAS horticultural sciences Professor Kevin Folta to answer questions from the U.S. House Science Committee at a June 25 hearing. Folta said there is no set agenda for the discussions, but he expects the researchers to field many questions relating to the GMO regulatory processes, food labeling and product safety.

“It is great that this committee is consulting with scientists that understand the evidence, and hopefully evidence will help them devise new policy,” Folta said.

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UF/IFAS forest genetics expert Kirst leads team receiving four-year, $2 million grant

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Forestry, IFAS, New Technology, Research

 

Matias Kirst.  Assistant Professor, PhD.  Quantitative Genetics.  School of Forest Resources and Conservation.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Matias Kirst. Associate Professor, PhD. Quantitative Genetics. School of Forest Resources and Conservation. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Agricultural science could make huge leaps forward if scientists had reliable ways to examine seeds and accurately predict the physical characteristics of the fully grown plants that would result.

University of Florida forest genetics expert Matias Kirst leads a multi-institution academic team that recently obtained a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop better methods of predicting the traits spawned by individual genes and groups of genes in plants, in this case the Eastern cottonwood tree, Populus deltoides.

“We’re thrilled that our previous work in this area has put us in a position to win this critical grant to help us bridge some important gaps in trait prediction,” said Kirst, an associate professor with the UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS.

The grant award provides more proof that the UF/IFAS forest genetics program is among the best in the world, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“Matias Kirst is one of our bright stars in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation,” Payne said. “This grant will support world-class scientific investigation that could make it much faster and easier to determine which new crop cultivars have commercial potential or other significant value.”

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New citrus variety trial options for Florida growers

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, IFAS, Research

CITRUS VARIETIES - Gmitter's latest 051215CITRUS VARIETIES - UFSunrise 051115

MAITLAND, Fla. – The New Varieties Development & Management Corporation has scheduled statewide grower meetings for May to launch FAST TRACK’s third suite of UF/IFAS-developed experimental citrus selections.

This new suite features four seedless easy-peel mandarin selections: UFGlow, UFSunrise, UFDawn and 7-6-27.

In addition, the UFGlow, UFSunrise and UFDawn varieties are mess-free – meaning your hands remain dry — early maturing and cold tolerant. Variety 7-6-27 has generated greater interest than any previous UF mandarin release at UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center Fruit Display Days, both in-state and internationally, as a result of its very early season of maturity, excellent color and flavor, and a potentially higher degree of tolerance to citrus greening.

Interested commercial citrus growers should plan to attend one of the meetings. A presentation will explain details about the program and registration documentation will be distributed. Representatives from the UF/IFAS Plant Improvement Team and the Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc. also will be present. Citrus Extension agents are encouraged to attend.

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Two UF/IFAS agricultural engineering faculty earn high global honors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Conservation, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Rafael Munoz-Carpena.  Associate Professor, PhD.  Agricultural and Biological Engineering.  Email: carpena@ufl.edu

Munoz-Carpena

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two faculty members in the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering have won prestigious global awards for outstanding contributions to their field.

One has also been elected to an advisory panel to the government of Spain.

Professor Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, has won the 2015 Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award for “accomplishments in hydrological and integrated environmental modeling and education of next-generation soil and water scientists and engineers.”

Muñoz-Carpena, who specializes in hydrology and water quality, remembers when, as a doctoral student at North Carolina State University, his mentor, Wayne Skaggs, won the award. Skaggs later became a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Skaggs “is one of the fathers of modern agricultural drainage,” says Muñoz-Carpena.

The Hancor award means every bit as much to Muñoz-Carpena now.

“It has additional meaning to me,” he said, because his former mentor won the award. “It’s recognition of your work among peers. The fact that I got it surprises me.”

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UF/IFAS is all about the bugs during Bug Week 2015, May 18-23

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida campus is aflutter with activity as it gears up for Bug Week 2015, with various online and campus activities for students of all ages and their families.

“Bugs are serious business in Florida,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Learning about bugs, though, should be fun. That’s why we have Bug Week.”

Bug Week 2015 is scheduled for May 18-23. To get started, check out the Bug Week website at http://bugs.ufl.edu/. UF/IFAS has a number of online resources there to explore including bug photos, feature stories, and the popular “Bug of the Day” and “Bug Word of the Day” items. Citizen science projects – in which anyone can participate – are spotlighted on the website, along with videos about everything from ants and butterflies to spiders and ticks. (more …)

UF Food Bank breaks ground today

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida will hold a groundbreaking ceremony today for the Field and Fork Food Pantry. The event will take place at 11 a.m. at Newell Drive, west of the Food Science and Human Nutrition building.

The food pantry will offer members of the UF community healthy, nutritious food free of charge, said Anna Prizzia, campus food systems coordinator. Currently, there are plans to offer fresh produce, non-perishable foods, canned goods and toiletries.

The university will grow food at the UF Community Farm to stock coolers with fresh produce, said Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “We’ll offer student-led classes in cooking, nutrition and budgeting so that we don’t just slake hunger but promote self-sufficiency,” he said. The pantry is scheduled to open by mid-July.

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$2 million UF/IFAS study to focus on antibiotic resistance; $500,000 study on taste retention

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Environment, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Kwang Cheol (K.C.) Jeong, Ph.D. UF/IFAS Photo. 2011.Kevin Folta.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

Jeong, left, and Folta, right

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida scientist will try to figure out how antibiotic-resistant microorganisms get into cattle. Another will study how to get tomatoes and strawberries to retain their flavors and last longer.

The two vastly different questions will be the focus of separate studies led by UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has awarded KC Jeong $2.19 million to study the cattle antibiotic question. NIFA also has awarded Kevin Folta and Thomas Colquhoun $500,000 to investigate the strawberry/tomato issue.

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UF/IFAS Extension program to control Tropical Soda Apple earns national award

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, Economics, Environment, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Invasive Species

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — St. Lucie County ranchers have saved an estimated $850,000 a year, thanks to University of Florida experts who taught them how to release a beetle to eat an invasive plant that normally elbows out valuable cattle forage.

“Using the Tropical Soda Apple beetle has resulted in significant cost savings for ranchers while at the same time protecting the environment by reducing the need to use herbicides,” said St. Lucie County Extension agent Ken Gioeli, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The program, which uses beetles to biologically control the Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) on St. Lucie County ranches, has won the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals National Innovative Program Award. That’s the fourth straight year UF’s St. Lucie County Extension Office has won a national award.

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6 UF/IFAS faculty named as Research Foundation professors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biofuels, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Environment, Food Safety, Forestry, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock, New Technology, RECs, Research

Robert Fletcher photographed for the 2011 FAES Awards.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler JonesRESEARCHFOUNDATION - Danyluk 041015Jim Jones (left), Bin Gao (seated), and Pratap Pullammanappallil.  Innovation Awards Portrait.  UF/IFAS File Photo.Zhenli He. Associate Professor, Soil and Water Science.Jose SantosRESEARCHFOUNDATION - Peter 041015
Pictured top (left to right) Robert Fletcher, Michelle Danyluk and Bin Gao; second row (left to right) Zhenli He, Jose Eduardo Santos and Gary Peter.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues like food safety and environmental sustainability, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2015-18.

The recognition goes to faculty who demonstrate a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that’s likely to continue to distinguish them in their fields.

“When I look at the breadth of research exemplified by these talented scientists, I am reminded of the complexity and breadth of the IFAS mission, and how fortunate we are to have people of such high caliber working in a university that places such a high value on research and invests so heavily in the research enterprise,” said Doug Archer, UF/IFAS associate dean of research.

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