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.”
In accepting the position as interim director at Indian River REC, Cave said he envisions the restoration of the Indian River District as a thriving production region for the world’s highest quality grapefruit and oranges.
“We are hiring new faculty members whose missions will be to resolve the current problems the local citrus industry is facing,” said Cave. “My job will be to facilitate all IRREC faculty to be successful in their research and Extension programs and lead the region to its full production potential.”
In his work as an entomology professor, Cave is one of two researchers on the forefront of invasive species control at the UF/IFAS laboratory. Cave’s research focuses on controlling invasive insects including the Mexican bromeliad weevil, the cycad aulacaspis scale and ambrosia beetles.
The weevil is decreasing the populations of 12 of 16 of Florida’s natural bromeliads. The invasive insect is destroying king sagos, one of central and south Florida’s commercially valuable landscape specimens. Ambrosia beetles transmit a fungal pathogen that causes laurel wilt in avocado trees.
Cave currently oversees three graduate students who are pursuing doctorates.
One student, Anita Neal, UF/IFAS district Extension director for South Florida, conducts research on biological control of the Sri Lankan weevil by using fungi.
Prior to his 2002 appointment with UF/IFAS, Cave worked for 15 years as a professor in the department of plant protection at the Escuela Agricola Panamericana, Zamorano, Honduras. In Central America, Cave remains a prominent adjunct educator.
Cave has mentored 31 students at Zamorano and two at the Escuela de Agricultura y Ganaderia de Esteli in Nicaragua. He continues to host Zamorano students as interns in his laboratory, he said.
He currently serves as managing editor of The Coleopterists Bulletin, an international journal devoted to the study of beetles.
Cave also has published 106 articles in scientific journals, 19 book chapters and four book reviews. He has also produced six videos on pest management, which are used in the courses he teaches.
Cave’s work with jewel scarabs in Honduras was featured on the cover and in a 10-page spread in National Geographic magazine.
Although Cave’s academic interests are specifically focused on insects and their impacts on agriculture and plants, entomology is an essential part of integrated pest management and crop production throughout the world, he said. He also stresses the future of scientific research is in the hands of graduate students.
“Student research is critical to the success of scientists and to solve global agricultural problems,” said Cave. “One of my goals as interim director is to assist faculty in attracting graduate students who have a desire to support the industry that IRREC serves with innovation and passion for an integrative approach to crop production and protection.”
Cave earned a doctorate in entomology at Auburn University in 1987. He earned a master’s in entomology at the University of California-Berkeley in 1977 and a bachelor’s from the University of California-Davis in 1975.
By: Robin Koestoyo, 772-577-7366, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Ronald Cave, 772-577-7378, email@example.com