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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS grad student wins prize for mosquito trap research

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, Pests, Research

Casey Parker Environmental Portrait Mosquito Housing

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Casey Parker came to the University of Florida aspiring to be a pharmacist. But chemistry wasn’t for her. So, she took a class called “Bugs and People,” and the professor at the time, Carl Barfield, convinced her to study entomology.

“I loved everything about it,” Parker said of studying insects. “It’s something people don’t think about very much. They’re around, but we don’t think, ‘they do so many crazy things in our world.’ They transmit tons of diseases that affect humans and animals.”

Parker did so well academically that she graduated last year and continued her master’s studies at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Department of Entomology and Nematology. The graduate entomology student recently won the ONE WORLD competition, organized by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Challenge 2050 Project in conjunction with the Syngenta Good Growth Plan. She was awarded $2,000 for her work.

“I was really honored,” Parker said, adding that she felt humbled to be among the other five student finalists – dubbed “The Solution 6” — all of whom created outstanding innovations.

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UF/IFAS research, breeding showcased at Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research

UF/IFAS Flavors of Florida 2015

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Faculty from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences produce some of the nation’s tastiest fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at UF’s Plant Innovation Center breed new cultivars and conduct research to boost the taste, smell and appearance of Florida fruits, vegetables and foliage. But the PIC does much more, said UF environmental horticulture Professor David Clark.

“The big thing is this: No other university in the country can pull off what we’ve put together here, so we are novel,” Clark said. “We cover the whole supply chain, from the conception of an idea to the realization of a product.”

UF faculty, administrators and friends gathered Monday at the UF president’s house in Gainesville for Flavors of Florida 2015, a premier event showcasing the edible research products of the UF/IFAS Plant Innovation Center. Industry leaders, donors and guests savored the sensations of tasty tomatoes, flavor-filled fruits and other Sunshine State food and drinks while learning more about the impact that UF/IFAS makes for the agriculture industry. This is the second year the event has been held.

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Joseph Albano is new director of UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS, RECs, Research

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Joseph Albano

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Joseph Albano, a research horticulturist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with more than 25 years of experience, has been appointed director of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida.

The director position entails helping faculty, meeting with colleagues and faculty at other research and education centers around the state, handling administrative matters from UF’s main campus, solving problems and representing the Mid-Florida region of UF/IFAS to customers and stakeholders.

“For me, the job itself was one that I felt I was ready for,” Albano said. “I am excited to lead a team of great faculty and to be able to implement my own ideas and goals and build this center into a place that can better serve our valued customers and stakeholders. We have some really good people here at the Center and I think that one of the joys I look forward to is developing young faculty to be productive and get through the tenure and promotion process.”

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UF/IFAS part of new website showcasing land-grant university impacts

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To help inform agricultural producers, policymakers and the public about its accomplishments, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is contributing to a new website, http://landgrantimpacts.org, that showcases projects by research and Extension programs at UF/IFAS and other land-grant universities nationwide.

By participating, UF/IFAS will raise awareness of accomplishments by its research arm, the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, and its Extension unit, the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“We’re very pleased to contribute to this effort and inform our stakeholders about the great successes UF/IFAS faculty are having in research and Extension, which are two of UF/IFAS’ primary missions, along with education,” Payne said. “I’m often asked about the impacts of our work, and the Land-Grant Impacts website provides an excellent venue for us to demonstrate those impacts.”

The website provides brief narratives about individual research and Extension projects, submitted by land-grant institutions around the country. Florida is home to two land-grant institutions, UF and Florida A&M University. The database is searchable by state or region, as well as the year the posting was submitted and the subject matter the posting involves. (more …)

UF survey shows Floridians want to conserve water, but not if it costs too much

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

PIE Center water photo 021815

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Floridians remain concerned about water and are willing to make changes to conserve it, at least until their efforts cramp their lifestyles, according to an annual University of Florida study on state residents’ attitudes about this precious resource.

For the second consecutive year, an annual online survey conducted by UF’s Center for Public Issues in Education shows that water ranks third on a list of 10 topics people consider important — behind the economy and healthcare and ahead of public education and taxes. Eighty-three percent of 749 respondents indicated water is an important or extremely important issue.

Yet while three-quarters of them said they were likely to vote to support water conservation programs and nearly as many said they would support water restrictions issued by their local government, only 42 percent were willing to take action to conserve water if it meant their lawns would suffer.

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UF/IFAS awarded funding to fight citrus greening

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have been awarded more than $13.4 million for four studies to help fight citrus greening, the devastating disease that threatens Florida’s $10 billion citrus industry.

The projects are funded through the Specialty Crop Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Education (CDRE) program, which is made available through the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill.

The following UF/IFAS research projects were funded:

  • $4.6 million to develop an environmentally safe, systematic bacteriacide that can be applied with conventional spray or drench technology to reduce or eliminate pathogens in citrus trees. The goal is to recover fruit production in greening-affected orchards.
  • $3.4 million to support ways to provide steam-generated treatments as an immediate, short-term solution to sustain productivity in HLB-affected trees, while reducing adverse effects on crop yield and fruit quality.
  • $3.3 million to try to develop an HLB-resistant citrus cultivar.
  • $2.9 million target the use of field trials in Florida to develop and effective microbial treatment for citrus plants affected by HLB.
  • UF/IFAS is also partnering with the University of California-Davis on a $4.6-million grant that focuses on using new approaches to manage the Asian citrus psyllid, will assess the economic benefits of these approaches and will develop new outreach information.

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UF researchers develop effective, inexpensive citrus greening detector

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, New Technology, Research
UF post-doctoral research associate Alireza Pourreza utilizes the vision sensor he helped to develop to detect citrus greening.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While a commercially available cure for crop-killing citrus greening remains elusive, University of Florida researchers have developed a tool to help growers combat the insidious disease: an efficient, inexpensive and easy-to-use sensor that can quickly detect whether a tree has been infected.

That early warning could give growers enough lead time to destroy plagued trees and save the rest. (more …)

Bicyclists willing to ride up to 3 miles to catch bus, train, UF/IFAS study shows

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, RECs, Research

Students commute on bicycles through campus.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – If three American metro areas are any indication, few people ride their bicycles to a bus or train station to commute to work, and those who do only travel an average of 1 to 2 miles. That suggests to a University of Florida researcher that American cities should make the 2-mile radius around transit hubs more bike-friendly.

Methods to do so could include installing bicycle lanes separated from vehicular traffic, adding off-street multipurpose paths for pedestrians and bicyclists and converting car lanes to bike-only lanes, said UF geomatics Associate Professor Henry Hochmair.

Hochmair reached his conclusions by studying data collected by transit agencies from passengers who rode trains and buses in three metro areas – Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

From those who completed the survey, Hochmair analyzed trips from 157 people in Los Angeles, 66 in Atlanta and 99 in Minneapolis who rode their bikes to access transit – 2.3 percent, 0.3 percent, and 4.2 percent, respectively. In Hochmair’s data analysis, those who opted to ride a bike to a transit hub cycled an average of 1 to 2 miles in Atlanta and the Twin Cities and 3 miles in Los Angeles.

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UF/IFAS study: Wheat yield to decline as temperatures increase

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Research, Weather

Research Assistant Jeremy Hall examines newly planted wheat at the UF/IFAS Plant Science Research & Education Unit Tuesday, January 13, 2015 in Citra, FLa.

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See video here: bit.ly/1Cbois7

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For every degree Celsius that the temperature increases, the world loses 6 percent of its wheat crop, according to a new global study led by a University of Florida scientist. That’s one fourth of the annual global wheat trade, which reached 147 million tons in 2013.

Senthold Asseng, a UF professor of agricultural and biological engineering, used a computer model approach to reach the finding of temperature increases and wheat production.

“We started this with wheat, as wheat is one of the world’s most important food crops,” said Asseng, whose team’s study was published online Dec. 22 in the journal Nature Climate Change. “The simulations with the multi-crop models showed that warming is already slowing yield gains, despite observed yield increases in the past, at a majority of wheat-growing locations across the globe.”

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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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