University of Florida

Seven UF/IFAS CALS students, alumni qualify for Rio Olympics

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Departments, IFAS
Eduardo Solaeche

Eduardo Solaeche

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you are watching the Olympic games, you may catch students and alumni of the University of Florida. Seven of the 30 UF Gators who qualified to compete in the Rio Olympics are current or former students of the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

“We are so proud of our students and alumni, who are not only representing the university and CALS, but also represent their home country at the world’s most elite competition,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner.

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UF/IFAS scientists find top 10 muscadine grape varieties for health, taste, smell

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

Muscadine grapes 062915

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You may eventually tempt your palette with more muscadine grape varieties, and they’ll be good for you, with new findings from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

Muscadine grapes are known for their health benefits and other nutritive values – even for potential preventive measures against cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The fruits are rich in antioxidants such as a ellagic acid and resveratrol.

Although scientists have done much research extracting and identifying these health benefits, the studies have looked at few commercial varieties. The new UF/IFAS study examined those benefits in 58 of the approximately 100 muscadine grape varieties.

UF/IFAS scientists, led by former post-doctoral researcher Changmou Xu, put the muscadine varieties through various tests over two growing seasons to see which ones passed muster for health, taste and smell genes.

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UF senior: When it comes to choosing a major, the path may be winding

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Like many college freshmen, Kristen Kempfert thought she had her future completely figured out.

Kempfert wanted to go to law school, so she enrolled at the University of Florida as an English major. When that didn’t feel right, she switched to political science, then to linguistics, then to engineering. Suddenly, she felt adrift, uncertain about which path to choose.

At the end of her freshman year, Kempfert had to take four credits over the summer to keep her scholarship. Having already found a three-credit course, she was browsing the list of course offerings when she stumbled upon “Plants, Gardening and You,” a one-credit course offered by the department of environmental horticulture in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

Kempfert had always enjoyed tending her small herb garden back home—so she signed up.

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Nutrition survival tips for college students and avoiding weight gain

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Nutrition

New Trans Fat info on labels.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When you get to college, and you’re trying to eat well, there are so many temptations and challenges — fast foods and late-night pizza, navigating the dining halls, limited transportation to grocery stores. For most college students, this is the first time living away from home. This new found independence is exciting, but comes with challenges, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher and UF/IFAS Extension specialist.

Poor nutrition habits can have a negative impact on health, body weight, and, behaviors formed during this initial period of independence can last a lifetime, said Anne Mathews, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food science. While the so-called “Freshmen 15” is a bit of an exaggeration, most college students gain excess weight. On average, college students gain about 7 pounds during the first year, and many continue to gain weight at a slower rate throughout college.

Mathews works as an investigator on a national project that’s trying to get college students to live healthier lifestyles, says you can eat healthy meals in college just by paying attention to a few details.

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UF/IFAS research findings could eventually save $30 million annually for strawberry growers

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

Strawberry economics 111015 - vance whitaker

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Strawberry growers may eventually save $30 million a year with genetic findings from a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study.

UF/IFAS researchers are looking for ways to thwart angular leaf spot, a pathogen that can destroy up to 10 percent of Florida’s $300 million-a-year strawberry crop in years with multiple freezes.

In the research, Vance Whitaker, a UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences, and a team of researchers found genetic markers they believe can lead them to develop strawberry cultivars that are more resistant to angular leaf spot. Genetic markers are short sequences of DNA used to identify a chromosome or nearby genes in a genetic map.

In two years of field trials, researchers at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center – along with colleagues from Oregon, The Netherlands and Canada – found places in strawberry genes that show promise for developing cultivars that are resistant to this disease.

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Five tips for planning your college career and beyond

Topic(s): CALS, IFAS


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — College is hard. Starting college is even harder. You have to find your way around campus, make new friends and learn how to fend for yourself, all while figuring out what you want to do with your life. Even choosing which classes to take can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are academic advisers for every major whose job it is to help you navigate these challenges. However, only about half of University of Florida students ever go see their academic adviser, said Amy Vasquez, adviser for plant science majors.

And that’s a problem. Not having a clear plan for how you’re going to earn your degree can lead to big issues such as not finishing your degree on time.

Here are five tips to help you avoid complications down the road.

  1. Get to know your adviser.

“You should meet with your adviser at least once a semester,” said Amie Imler, adviser for students majoring in animal sciences. Your adviser can help you balance your schedule so that tougher courses are spread out over a few semesters rather than lumped into one.

Advisers also know which courses are only offered once an academic year and will help you factor that into your plan, said Vasquez.

  1. Be professional.

Treat going to class like going to work. “You wouldn’t go to work in the morning wearing your pajamas,” said Imler. “You need to be developing professional habits now.” Imler noted that, at some point, you may want your professors and academic advisor to write your letters of recommendation. How do you want them to remember you?

  1. Get involved.

Employers, professional schools and graduate programs will want to see that you’ve developed leadership skills by participating in extracurricular activities. Vasquez recommends joining a club or organization on campus or in the community.

  1. Have an open mind.

Some students come to college intensely focused on one goal, said Herschel Johnson, adviser for food science and human nutrition majors, and that focus can blind them to other potential opportunities. “You may feel like you have to prove yourself from day one,” Johnson said. “You feel the competition, and you may not approach college as something that is about you as an individual.  Don’t compare yourself to other students. Find your own path.”

Some students may be unaware that there is more than one path to a particular goal, said Vasquez. For example, a student who wants to go to medical school doesn’t have to major in biology, she said. In fact, majoring in a field such as entomology may actually help you stand out among a pool of medical school applicants.

  1. Have a back-up plan.

Approximately 50 percent of students enter UF with plans for continuing to professional school, such as medical school or law school, but not all of those students end up there, said Johnson. If you’re aiming to be pre-med or pre-law, be open to another route you can take and plan accordingly — ideally with the help of your academic adviser.

You can get in touch with your academic adviser by contacting the department in which you have declared a major. Undecided students or students looking to change majors should reach out to departments they are considering, or visit the UF Career Resource Center.

Caption: Faced with many options and opportunities, planning one’s college career can be daunting. Fortunately, academic advisers can help guide students. UF Photo by Hannah Pietrick.


By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Amie Imler, 352-392-9739, amie.taylor@ufl.edu

Herschel Johnson, 352-294-3701, hdjohnson@ufl.edu

Amy Vasquez, 352-273-4573, amyalex@ufl.edu

Cattle Enhancement Board Meeting

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, IFAS, Livestock




MONDAY, AUGUST 8, 2016  —  10 a.m.


A meeting of the Board of Directors of the Cattle Enhancement Board, Inc., will be held on Monday, August 8, 2016 at 10 a.m.  The meeting will be held at the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, 800 Shake Rag Road, Kissimmee, Florida.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this meeting is asked to advise this office at least 72 hours in advance by contacting Ms. Goldie King by phone at (352) 392-1971 or by email at kingo@ufl.edu .

UF/IFAS study: Sweet potato crop shows promise as feed and fuel

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Livestock, Research, Soil and Water Science

Sweet potato fuel 081516

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As some Florida growers try to find new crops and the demand for biofuel stock increases globally, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have found that sweet potato vines, usually thrown out during harvest, can serve well as livestock feed while the roots are an ideal source for biofuel.

This could be a key finding for the agriculture industry in Florida and to biofuel needs worldwide, said post-doctoral researcher Wendy Mussoline.

“The agriculture industry in Florida is looking to find new, viable crops to replace the citrus groves that have been diminished by the greening disease,” Mussoline said. “Potato farmers are also trying to find new crops that offer both biofuel alternatives as well as food and/or animal feed opportunities. They are conducting field trials on several varieties of sweet potatoes to determine if they are an economically viable crop that they can market.”

According to a newly published study by professor Ann Wilkie and Mussoline, an industrial sweet potato variety (CX-1) may do the trick.

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UF/IFAS honey bee lab hosts beekeeper training Aug. 12-13

Topic(s): Extension, IFAS, Uncategorized

Painted honey bee hive boxes. Photo taken 08-13-15

DAVIE, Fla. — If you’ve always wanted to raise bees, here’s your chance. The University of Florida IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab will hold a beekeeper training workshop on Aug. 12 and 13 in Davie, Florida.

The South Florida and Caribbean Bee College will be held at UF/IFAS Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Ave., Davie, Florida, 33314. The two full days of courses will feature classes in pest control, honey extraction and queen care, among other topics.

“Bee College provides beekeepers with the proper tools and techniques they need to successfully keep honey bees in Florida,” said Mary Bammer, UF/IFAS Extension coordinator for the Honey Bee Research and UF/IFAS Extension Lab. “Beginner beekeepers will learn how to get started, those more experienced can pick up new practices, and participants who are just interested in bees in general will learn about the importance of bees to the environment and to everyday life.”

Cost to participate in the program ranges from $150 to $185 for both days. For more information, visit www.hbrel.eventbrite.com.


By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Mary Bammer, 352-273-3969, bammerma@ufl.edu

A UF/IFAS guide to eating healthy foods at school

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition

School cafeteria to promote the My Plate and YUM nutrition programs.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Children have lots of food and beverage choices when they return to school this fall. Parents can take an active role in ensuring their children eat healthy foods at school, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher.

Also, some parents may be reassured by standards established by the federal government four years ago — the first major changes to school nutrition standards in 15 years, said Gail Kauwell, a UF/IFAS professor of food science and human nutrition.

Parents can encourage their children to eat good food at school, instead of throwing it out.

“Discussing the importance of fruits, vegetables, and proper nutrition with your child can help them understand the importance of eating their fruits and vegetables whether they are eating at home, school or somewhere else,” Kauwell said. “If you pack your child’s lunch, you can put a ‘fun twist’ on the fruits and vegetables. Making kabobs (place chunks of fruit and vegetables on skewers) or ‘bugs on a log’ (celery, cucumber, or carrot sticks (the ‘log’) topped with peanut butter and dried fruit (the ‘bugs’) are ways to make the fruits and vegetables more fun.”

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