GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers were honored for helping combat diseases affecting global agriculture, developing new plant varieties and conducting other impactful research and developments in the past year at the ninth annual UF/IFAS Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Research Awards ceremony.
“Our researchers don’t think the sky is falling; they believe that the sky is the limit,” said Jackie Burns, dean for UF/IFAS Research. “It is a privilege to be associated with faculty who are the best and brightest.”
Awards were given for the best thesis and dissertation from master’s and Ph.D. students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Honors were also bestowed to the UF/IFAS 2015 University of Florida Research Foundation Professors, researchers who produced outstanding publications and those who developed new plant and utility patents. Some of the patents included a highly rated variety of tomato called “Garden Gem,” six new varieties of the Coleus plant, including “Gator Glory,” and an invention to control flies and mosquitoes.
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — An entomologist recognized internationally as a specialist in biological control of insect pests has been named interim director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River Research and Education Center.
Ronald Cave will serve as the sixth leader of the Indian River REC.
From the Indian River REC’s 1947 start as the Indian River Field Laboratory, it has served agricultural and natural resources interests with research, Extension and education programs.
Cave was appointed to his new position by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.
“In this challenging time for the citrus industry and for other agricultural commodities, we cannot afford a leadership gap even for a few months,” Payne said. “Ron Cave is the right leader for this transition because of his accomplishments as a scientist, his dedication as a mentor and his familiarity with the center. It’s this combination of excellence and stability that makes him an ideal choice for this important role.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For his 40 years of groundbreaking work on nutrient cycling in wetlands aquatic systems, the chairman of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences soil and water sciences department has been named a winner of the National Wetlands Award.
Professor K. Ramesh Reddy is among five recipients of this year’s National Wetlands Awards, given by the Environmental Law Institute. Now in its 27th year, the program has recognized nearly 200 people from across the country for their exceptional and innovative contributions to wetlands conservation. The award recipients will be honored in Washington, D.C., during American Wetlands Month. The award ceremony is on May 11.
“As we walk through a wetland, we all admire beautiful plants, flowers, birds and other wildlife, and flowing water, but we rarely think about the ‘living soil’ under our feet,” Reddy said. “The chemical and biological processes in the soil essentially control the majority of functions and ecosystem services that provide wetlands. This is similar to the ‘brain’ orchestrating the many functions of human body.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A team of students from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recently took home a $5,000 first-place prize at a national Ocean Spray Cranberry competition, dazzling the judges with a scrumptious waffle and dipping syrup product.
The food science graduate students, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, were charged with making a new product for “healthy strivers.” Fifteen schools submitted abstracts, and three teams—UF, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Delaware Valley University—were invited to present their products at Ocean Spray headquarters in Massachusetts.
“The second annual Student Product Development is an effort to build employment brand recognition as well as to spark new ideas internally,” said Ocean Spray spokeswoman Kellyanne Dignan. “It was a great opportunity and pleasure to host and showcase the truly innovative ideas created by students that represent our values of respect, ownership, innovation and collaboration.”
APOPKA, Fla. — Roger Kjelgren, who has spent decades as a professor of horticulture at Utah State University, has been named the new director of the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida. The center is part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Kjelgren, who begins his position in mid-August, focuses his research on water conservation and irrigation landscape. Specifically, he studies how much water plants need to create a low-usage landscape.
Kjelgren said he is looking forward to a new experience. “I had a successful career at Utah State and accomplished my teaching and research goals,” he said. “Now, I will focus on linking agriculture and horticulture production to meet urban needs for creating sustainable landscapes. The Mid-Florida REC is really well-situated to accomplish that.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brian Myers has been named Chair of the University of Florida’s department of agricultural education and communication. The department, in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is considered among the country’s best in developing leaders, educators and communicators to meet society’s challenges.
Myers is a professor whose research interests include agriscience, curriculum development, agriscience instructional methods, and the design and delivery of teacher professional development. He has advised more than 35 graduate students, and served on the supervisory committee for dozens more.
“Dr. Myers has dedicated his academic life to agricultural education and communication, and we at the University of Florida, the state and the country benefit from his drive to be a positive influencer to the profession,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “He truly is an asset, and our students, faculty and citizens all reap the rewards of his commitment.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Royal Entomological Society has awarded its 2016 Best Paper Award to a paper written by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers. The paper was based on a study about a new way to monitor and trap a beetle that transmits a dangerous pathogen to certain trees.
Lukasz Stelinski, an associate professor of entomology at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, spearheaded the study in which investigators came up with a synthetic aroma to lure redbay ambrosia beetles into traps.
“Identifying an effective lure for the beetle is an important step in developing management tools for this pathogen-spreading insect in Florida,” Stelinksi said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students who earned honors from the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at its April 14 banquet show exemplary scholarship, leadership and commitment to the community.
“One of our top priorities for CALS is to recruit and retain outstanding students,” UF CALS Dean Elaine Turner said. “Our annual Scholarship and Leadership Awards Banquet gives us the opportunity to showcase the achievements of those students. The award winners are truly the best of the best. I’m so proud that they chose CALS to further their education.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Imagine your instructor using rap to get her point across. That might pique your interest and make you listen more attentively, especially if you’re a university student.
Rapping is one of many approaches Berthrude Albert uses to get her students to listen. Her teaching acumen has led to her being honored with the 2016 Jack L. Fry Excellence in Teaching Award, given to a graduate student by the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Albert also was honored this year as one of two to win the Calvin A. VanderWerf Award as the best graduate teaching assistant of the year for the whole university.
Albert teaches a course titled, “Effective Oral Communication,” which is a graduation requirement for many majors at UF.
“When they first get to class, they’re so nervous,” said Albert, who expects to earn her doctorate in agricultural education and communication in December. “I know that part of public speaking is being comfortable in your own skin. I put myself out there. Even if it’s silly, just put ourselves out there and see what happens when we put our guards down.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Unlike most graduating college seniors, Javan Brown gets up at 5:30 every morning. While his classmates sleep in, Brown goes to the Army ROTC center on the University of Florida campus to go through physical training and to train other cadets.
Brown will graduate Friday from the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in family, youth and community sciences. He will be among 658 UF CALS students earning bachelor’s degrees at the April 29 commencement. Another 84 will receive master’s degrees while 59 will get doctorates, according to figures provided by the UF CALS dean’s office. CALS is part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
When he gets his diploma, Brown will also be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He intends to make the military his first career. After that, who knows? He has a passion for helping others.
“People can improve their position,” Brown said. “But if they don’t know how, it’s tough. I want to motivate and empower people. If you get a map and identify where you want to go, you can succeed.”