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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.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students and faculty were recognized for their outstanding teaching and research at the 62nd annual North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) conference in June.
More than 25 UF CALS faculty, staff and graduate students attended the meeting, said CALS Dean Elaine Turner. CALS is part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Many UF CALS faculty and students contributed to the NACTA program with posters, oral presentations and workshops.
“The NACTA annual conference is a showcase for innovation and excellence in teaching and learning,” Turner said. “I am so proud of the UF/IFAS faculty and CALS graduate students who were recognized with teaching, leadership and scholarship awards this year. The constant pursuit of excellence in teaching is a key part of what makes CALS such a great academic home for students.”
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HASTINGS, Fla. — Gary England has been named director of the UF/IFAS Hastings Agricultural Extension Center in Hastings, Florida. The center is a resource for residents and agricultural producers in northeast Florida, a region known for both potatoes and surging urban development.
“We are extremely pleased to have Gary England serve in this new leadership role at Hastings,” said Nick Place, dean of UF/IFAS Extension. “Gary brings a wealth of experience in agriculture, applied research and farm management. He has outstanding skills and expertise to ensure that we have a strong and impactful program at our Hastings facility that addresses the current and emerging needs of agricultural producers in northeast Florida.”
England, who grew up in Ohio, attended the University of Florida as an undergraduate with the goal of becoming a golf course superintendent. After working in the golf industry, he returned to UF to earn a master’s degree in weed science.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Michael Dukes, director of the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has been honored with the 2016 John Deere Gold Medal award. Dukes is nationally recognized as an expert in irrigation and water conservation.
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers gives the award to recognize distinguished achievement in the application of science and art to the soil.
“It is a great honor to be selected by my peers for this prestigious award,” Dukes said. “I look forward to continuing my work in helping create sustainable landscape practices that will impact not only Florida, but the world.”
As a professor and UF/IFAS Extension irrigation specialist, Dukes conducts research on water conservation and efficient irrigation with a focus on landscape irrigation. His research is used to inform irrigation professionals, decision makers and other stakeholders on how to implement changes and manage landscape irrigation systems to maximize efficiency while maintaining aesthetically pleasing landscapes. His work is invaluable, said Wendy Graham, director of the UF Water Institute.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The University of Florida and 12 other prominent research institutions in the United States joined the SoAR Foundation today in calling for a surge in federal support of food and agricultural science. “Retaking the Field,” the report released by this coalition, highlights recent scientific innovations and illustrates how U.S. agricultural production is losing ground to China and other global competitors.
“Agricultural and food science research has had a profound impact on our country’s population and quality of life,” said Jackie Burns, UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences dean for research and director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. “Continued investment in university research resources will ensure that today’s investments translate into innovation and food security for future generations. The SoAR Foundation publication highlights success stories in agricultural research that will improve the future lives of our citizens.”
“Retaking the Field” examines the importance of agriculture and its related industries to the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this sector was responsible for nearly one in 10 jobs in 2014 and contributed $835 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product. Even though every public dollar invested in agricultural research provides $20 in economic returns, the federal budget for agricultural research has remained flat for decades. Today, the U.S. trails China in both agricultural production and public research funding.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences student will spend the next school year as one of 12 National Teach Ag Ambassadors, spreading the word about the importance of agricultural education and learning more about how to teach the subject.
Tyler D’Angelo will be a senior in agricultural education and communication in the fall and hopes to pursue his master’s degree in the same department after he graduates. After that, he hopes to teach agriculture.
“It is truly an honor to represent the profession that I love,” D’Angelo said. “I hope that through my ambassadorship that I will be able to bring more of a presence to the Teach Ag campaign to Florida. I also hope to encourage those interested in teaching agriculture to pursue a degree in agricultural education.”
Agricultural education and communication is an academic department within the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Brian Myers, a professor in the department, nominated D’Angelo to be an ambassador.
“Tyler will be an outstanding Teach Ag Ambassador,” Myers said. “He has a passion and excitement for agricultural education that is evident the moment you meet him. He has a tremendous skill set that will allow him to tell the story about being an agricultural educator in meaningful and impactful ways. He will be a great representative of the agriculture teaching profession and of the University of Florida.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences student who researches how to improve peanuts has been named as UF’s first Cultivator for the 2016 Farm Foundation® Round Table.
Will Dezern, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science from UF CALS, participated the week of June 6 at the discussion forum in Louisville, Kentucky, where he presented a poster on his research. He is one of six students selected nationwide to attend the forum. Student participants are known as “Cultivators.”
“I am very excited about this opportunity to hear from agricultural leaders from around the country,” Dezern said during the conference. “Sometimes it is easy to be very focused on just one area of work, so I look forward to gaining a better understanding of the state of the industry as a whole. I’m very honored to have been chosen to attend the Round Table event, and I hope to come back with new ideas and perspectives.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher who uses steam to help treat citrus trees infected by greening, will receive this year’s Citrus Engineer of the Year Award.
Reza Ehsani, a UF/IFAS associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, will receive the award June 21 at the 59th Biennial Citrus Engineering Symposium at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (REC) in Lake Alfred, Florida.
“I am very honored and grateful to receive this award,” said Ehsani, a faculty member at the Citrus REC. “It means a lot to me because it shows my efforts and contributions to the engineering aspects of citrus production have been of value and have been noticed and recognized by my peers.”
Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus REC, touted Ehsani’s work in using steam to help citrus trees infected by greening, or HLB as it’s known in scientific circles.
“The premise of his work is that, by using steam to kill the bacteria in the above-ground portion of the tree, growers can buy additional years of productivity of a grove before it must be replanted,” Rogers said. “The machine designs he has created are being used by several startup companies around the state. He definitely deserves the recognition.”
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.”