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IFAS News

University of Florida

A banner year for UF/IFAS in 2014

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Uncategorized
The University of Florida's historic College of Agriculture building.

See caption below.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida hired a new, land-grant-oriented president, brought on board preeminent faculty, celebrated Extension’s centennial, opened new facilities and made strides in fighting citrus greening.

Those actions top a brief list of accomplishments for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in 2014. Here are 10 achievements by UF/IFAS faculty, staff Extension agents and students: (more …)

UF/IFAS researcher helps to unravel mysteries of fungi biodiversity

Topic(s): Environment, IFAS, Research, Uncategorized
Fungi can be found most anywhere.

See caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Scientists have long tracked the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies, studied the longevity of the redwoods and know how the melting of the ice caps is affecting polar bears. But, until now, it has been difficult to keep tabs on the poor, humble fungi – another of the world’s lesser-known, yet diverse groups of multicellular living creatures. And new research shows there could be a new variety living in your backyard. (more …)

UF/IFAS researchers build searchable database of non-native plants

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, Uncategorized
The air potato vine is an  invasive species prohibited by the state

see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ever wonder what that plant is in your yard that seems to be taking over? The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a new website designed to help you figure it out.

Researchers with UF/IFAS’ Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants spent more than a year developing a searchable website and database to help Floridians assess problem— or just plain puzzling —non-native plants. (more …)

Endangered green sea turtle, ‘IFAS,’ recovering from surgery

Topic(s): Conservation, Extension, Uncategorized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – An endangered green sea turtle rescued last month in the lower Florida Keys was recovering today after surgery performed Friday to remove potentially life-threatening tumors from its eyes.

Shelly Krueger, a Florida Sea Grant agent who works with the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Monroe County, was leading a group of Florida Master Naturalist students on a snorkeling trip at the Mote Marine Lab Center for Tropical Research’s coral nursery, in the lower Florida Keys when they discovered the turtle.

(more …)

Lauded science communicator Alison Van Eenennaam to give fall York lecture

Topic(s): Announcements, Uncategorized

Alison Van Eenennaam

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For scientists to better communicate with the public, they’ll have to use more than their brains: they’ll need their hearts and souls as well, says Alison Van Eenennaam, who will present the fall 2014 York lecture.

Van Eenennaam, a Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California, Davis, will give a talk called “GMO Technology: What do the facts say?” Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. at Emerson Alumni Hall. The talk is free and open to the public.

(more …)

Report finds major food and ag employers can’t fill STEM jobs

Topic(s): Uncategorized

DES MOINES, Iowa — There’s a national shortage of young agricultural professionals, according to a report released today, which calls for industries and universities to work together to address the gap.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences leaders embraced the report’s findings and pledged to continue close relationships with industry leaders who help them identify the skills and training graduates need for career success.

(more …)

UF/IFAS celebrates supporters in third annual Dinner of Distinction

Topic(s): Honors and Appointments, Uncategorized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences honored some of its most ardent supporters at its annual Dinner of Distinction, held at the UF Hilton Conference Center Friday evening.

This was the third year for the awards banquet that recognizes individuals and organizations that support and advance UF/IFAS in its research, teaching and Extension efforts.

(more …)

UF/IFAS’ Kevin Folta to advise Pennsylvania lawmakers on GMO topic

Topic(s): Announcements, Honors and Appointments, New Technology, Uncategorized

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UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences chairman Kevin Folta will advise the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Monday, Oct. 6 on the use of transgenic crops, or GMOs.

The committee will have an informational meeting at 9 a.m. with nationally recognized scientists offering presentations about GMO foods. The legislators are gathering information in advance of debate over a bill that would require labeling of genetically engineered food.

(more …)

UF/IFAS scientists count record number of threatened crocodile hatchlings

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Research, Uncategorized

 

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A record number of American crocodile hatchlings have been counted in the Everglades National Park this summer — a positive development for the threatened species, University of Florida scientists say.

The American crocodile was listed as a federally endangered species in 1975, and while reclassified as threatened in 2007, the species still faces problems from habitat loss and environmental changes.

Frank Mazzotti, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor, has monitored the South Florida crocodile population since 1978.

This summer, he and his team of researchers that included Michiko Squires, Seth Farris, Rafael Crespo and research coordinator Jeff Beauchamp, caught, marked and released 962 hatchlings within the confines of the national park, a big jump from last summer’s 554.

The total American crocodile hatchlings in Florida this year came to 1,447, over last year’s 1,006, including those found in the park, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo and Florida Power and Light Company Turkey Point power plant site.

Mazzotti cautioned that the numbers aren’t proof that ecosystem restoration efforts are working, but he believes the correlation suggests they are.

The coastline of Everglades National Park, prime habitat for the American crocodile, was largely untouched by humans until the early 20th century. But a network of canals was dug to drain water from the marshes to make the area suitable for agriculture and residential development, which triggered environmental changes, such as increased inland salinity.

And crocodiles, extremely sensitive to environmental changes such as salinity and water levels, suffered. High salinities stress hatchling crocodiles directly, and high salinity and high water levels limit availability of prey.

Restoration plans to plug coastal canals in the national park aim to prevent salt water intrusion and fresh water losses to tide.

“What we hope is the lesson is that ecosystem restoration efforts can work. If the signal is correct here, we can monitor that improvement by looking at ecological responses – and crocodiles make good indicators,” Mazzotti said.

Crocodiles, as a species, are some 200 million years old. They can live for decades, can survive long periods without food and can eat almost anything. They have complex social relationships and are known to be quick learners.

Contacts

Writer: Mickie Anderson, 352-273-3566, mickiea@ufl.edu

Source: Frank Mazzotti, 954-577-6338, fjma@ufl.edu

Predicting disease and improving crops through genetics

Topic(s): Uncategorized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Can scientists accurately predict when an individual will develop a disease? What if we could predict how to increase drought resistance in plants? Or offer patients personalized medicine?

Researchers are looking for answers to these questions and more using a plant or animal’s obvious traits, called phenotype prediction, a field that will be discussed in a free workshop presented by the University of Florida Forest Genomics Lab, the Forage Breeding and Genomics Lab and Genetics Institute Aug. 11 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Held in the UF Cancer & Genetics Research Complex auditorium, the event can be streamed live online. Faculty, students, researchers and breeders working with plant, animal or human genomic data locally or worldwide are invited to participate. In its first year, the workshop attracted participants from 64 countries.

(more …)

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