IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS study on luring, trapping dangerous beetle wins prestigious award

Topic(s): Agriculture, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

 

Dr. Lukasz Stelinski, assistant professor of entomology and nematology.  2009 Annual Research Report photo by Tyler Jones.

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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.

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UF/IFAS research may give new hope to expanding avocado production

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, IFAS, RECs, Research

Avocados - CristinaLaurelWiltBest 041816

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FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Findings from new University of Florida research may lead growers to produce avocados in the Indian River region of Florida, an area where the citrus industry has fallen on hard times.

The research comes from a dissertation by Cristina Pisani, who recently completed her doctorate in horticultural sciences at the University of Florida Indian River Research and Education Center near Fort Pierce. The center is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For her research, Pisani studied a grove of about 150 avocado seedlings collected in California by Rey Schnell, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami. Schnell identified the true hybrids of avocado Hass and Bacon cultivars. Then the seedlings were planted at the USDA Horticultural Research Laboratory, adjacent to the IRREC.

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UF/IFAS professor wins prestigious national teaching award

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs, Research

Thetford.Students

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mack Thetford, an associate professor based at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, has been selected the 2016 American Society of Horticultural Science Outstanding Undergraduate Educator award. Thetford, whose teaching and research focus on landscape ornamentals and plant propagation, will be honored at the ASHS awards ceremony in Atlanta on Aug. 8.

The ASHS Outstanding Undergraduate Educator award recognizes an educator who has had a distinguished and outstanding undergraduate education teaching career in horticultural science for a period of 10 or more years. Thetford has taught at UF for 21 years.

“Dr. Thetford’s teaching efforts at the WFREC are appreciated, and I am grateful for the depth of knowledge and passion that he brings to the profession,” said Wes Wood, director of the West Florida REC.

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UF/IFAS researchers try to expand muscadine grape market

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Charles Sims

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to expand consumers’ knowledge of muscadine grapes, and they hope that awareness leads to more people buying them.

“They’re full of nutrients and flavor,” UF/IFAS food science professor Charles Sims said of the tick-skinned fruit.

Right now, muscadine grapes are grown only in the South and are not very well known in other parts of the country, Sims said. Apparently, more consumers are apt to buy muscadine grapes if they know about them, at least according to a recent UF/IFAS experiment.

For her master’s thesis, Mailys Fredericq, a graduate student in food science and human nutrition, studied 139 participants – 70 of whom considered themselves familiar with muscadine grapes, and 69 who were not. Fredericq found that those who knew about muscadine grapes like their appearance, flavor and texture much more than those who didn’t know much about the grapes.

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UF/IFAS scientists honored as UF Research Foundation professors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues as wide-ranging as better alternative fuels and nutrient absorption, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2016-19.

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.

“UF/IFAS faculty research continuously shows its value in practical ways, but these faculty members stand out because the University of Florida is recognizing their outstanding work,” said UF/IFAS Dean for Research Jackie Burns. “Their scientific research helps solve global issues ranging from potential solutions to citrus greening to growing crops in a changing climate to finding new sources of alternative energy.”

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UF’s Archer to leave post as associate dean for IFAS research to teach

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS, Research

Doug Archer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Associate Dean for IFAS Research Douglas Archer has switched gears to pursue his passion of teaching and research in the department of food science and human nutrition.

Archer transitions back to what he considers “the best job in the University” after a full decade in the UF/IFAS Dean for Research office. With his academic background in microbiology, he plans to use his knowledge of the research interests of IFAS faculty in Gainesville and at the Research and Education Centers to help researchers with common interests collaborate in ways they otherwise would not have realized.

He also plans to continue working with the Emerging Pathogens Institute, particularly on diseases associated with food and water, to better link the science with rapidly evolving Federal policy.

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Florida citrus growers: 80 percent of trees infected by greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

Small lopsided fruit from greening-infected citrus tree.  Spring 2008 Impact Magazine image.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s citrus growers say as much as 90 percent of their acreage and 80 percent of their trees are infected by the deadly greening disease, which is making a huge dent in the state’s $10.7 billion citrus industry, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences survey shows.

The survey, conducted in March 2015, shows the first grower-based estimates of both the level of citrus greening in Florida and the impact of greening on citrus operations in Florida.

“Even though the industry acknowledges that greening has reached epidemic proportions across the state, estimates of the level of infection and its impact on citrus operations are scarce,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

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UF/IFAS recognizes top faculty research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, Pests, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Whether it’s hybrid termites, grain pathogens, mosquito mating or something in between, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are studying important topics and helping to solve global issues.

The UF/IFAS Research Dean’s Office recently recognized more than two dozen UF/IFAS faculty members for their impactful research, and Dean for Research Jackie Burns said she could not be more proud of the scientists.

“We recognize that these research articles are examples of the many published by UF/IFAS that are highly impactful and help reach solutions to worldwide issues including food shortages, nutrition, diseases and economic development,” Burns said. “Our faculty perform top-quality, globally-recognized scientific work, and we’re proud to recognize them.”

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Mosquito may play key role in transmitting Eastern equine encephalitis in the Southeast

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research

EEE - mosquito species - photo of Culex_erraticus_female_courtesy of Burkett-Cadena 040716

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A mosquito species that’s very abundant in the Southeast may play a more significant role in transmitting Eastern equine encephalitis than originally thought, according to a University of Florida scientist.

Nathan Burkett-Cadena, an assistant professor of entomology at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, helped investigate the role of the mosquito species known as Culex erraticus and Culista melanura, the latter of which is most commonly associated with spreading the potentially lethal virus.

“Our study shows us how a mosquito that is a relatively poor transmitter of the virus can actually have a huge impact on human health, due to its overwhelming abundance,” Burkett-Cadena said.

The study, published recently online in the Journal of Medical Entomology, was led by Thomas Unnasch, distinguished professor of global health at the University of South Florida.

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UF/IFAS student to participate in White House science panel on April 13

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida/IFAS student will serve on a panel at the White House Science Fair on April 13. The science fair is the last of President Obama’s administration.

Kiona Elliott is a third-year student majoring in horticultural sciences, and has been asked to reflect on her past experience in the White House Science Fair, discuss the importance of STEM training and talk about her current research activities. She currently attends UF as a McNair Scholar, named for astronaut Ronald McNair who perished in the Challenger Disaster in 1986.

“I am honored to represent UF/IFAS during the White House Science Fair,” Elliott said. “The university has nurtured my passion for the sciences, and the faculty have been supportive as I pursue my educational goals.”

Elliott performs research with Dr. Kevin Folta’s group in the horticultural sciences department, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, examining uses for a potentially new class of plant growth regulators that could improve sustainable farming.  She has presented her work at national meetings, and plans to enroll in a leading graduate program with a focus on using technology to ensure food security for developing nations.

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