IFAS News

University of Florida

UF students learn how to save environment, lessen wildfires with prescribed burns

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Departments, Environment, Forestry, IFAS, Pollution, Safety, Weather

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Assistant professor Raelene Crandall walks her 18 students into Austin Cary Forest, part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, where they will set a fire. Crandall and the students stand out in their lemon yellow shirts, forest green pants, leather boots and gloves, and hard hats—all fireproof.

“Wildfire season is starting early this year, because we’re seeing a warmer, drier spring,” said Crandall, who teaches fire ecology in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. “Experts predict an unusually bad wildfire season this year with the dry conditions and prescribed burns may help lower that number.”

The students check the plow line, which is used to contain a fire to a particular area and then start a fire along the edge. They stand back as plants begin to burn and the fire gradually progresses. “If we don’t conduct prescribed burns, we will get larger, often catastrophic fires that threaten families and structures,” Crandall explained.

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UF/IFAS Global honors three faculty members for international work

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Taking the charge to bring agricultural solutions to countries far and wide, three faculty members with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have done just that. Thus, they were honored at the third annual UF/IFAS Global forum and awards ceremony in February.

Luke Flory, an assistant professor in the agronomy department, received the UF/IFAS Global International Achievement award for his work on reducing the effects of invasive plants around the world. His research has received international recognition, with invitations to speak at universities and organizations in Asia, Canada and Europe, said Rob Gilbert in a nomination letter.

William Giuliano, a professor and UF/IFAS Extension specialist in the department of wildlife, ecology and conservation, was named a UF/IFAS Global International Fellow. Giuliano secured substantial funding for, established, and now directs the Program for Tropical Ecology and Conservation Science and its associated two field stations in Belize. Also, he established a program to conduct research with and train Belizean scientists, said nominator and colleague Eric Hellgren.

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New UF/IFAS scientist brings latest technology to battle against invasive species

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Departments, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests

FORT PIERCE, Fla.— Carey Minteer, a research professor with expertise in the use of biological controls to manage invasive plants, has joined the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Florida has the most invasive species in the country, with 28 ports of entry, including seaports, airports and train stations.

Minteer, who is also an expert in geographic information systems, is based at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. She is collaborating with professor James Cuda, UF/IFAS Extension agent Ken Gioeli and other scientists to fight the state’s most noxious weeds, including the Brazilian peppertree, one of Florida’s most widespread invasive plants.

“Dr. Minteer has demonstrated effectiveness in investigating the biological control of invasive weeds in the central U.S.A. and Florida,” said Ronald Cave, UF/IFAS Indian River REC interim director. “Her expertise in biological control is strengthened with her knowledge of sophisticated mapping technology for spatial analysis of large infestations, thereby bringing a new dimension of research capability to the laboratory.”

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UF/IFAS Researchers: Many turning to oysters for Valentine’s Day energy

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you might be thinking about revving things up by eating a few oysters. We’ve all heard that oysters are aphrodisiacs, but researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say there’s more to the story.

“Oysters might be perceived as an aphrodisiac because they have a high proportion of glycogen, a form of stored carbohydrate that can give you energy,” said Peter Frederick, a research professor with the UF/IFAS department of wildlife ecology and conservation.

Leslie Sturmer, a regional UF/IFAS Extension agent specializing in molluscan shellfish aquaculture, says the high nutritional content of oysters helps people feel good, hence the reputation for being an aphrodisiac. “Oysters have a high zinc content, have very little fat and are full of essential vitamins and minerals,” she said. “So, consumers who eat oysters regularly may attribute extra energy to the oysters.”

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Live stream captures nesting ospreys at UF stadium

Topic(s): Departments, Environment, IFAS

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tune into the Osprey Cam and you might catch a glimpse of an osprey dad-to-be returning to a nest at University of Florida’s Alfred McKethan Stadium. He’s often carrying fresh fish from Lake Alice or Bivens Arm, which his mate gobbles up on the spot.

Ospreys have been nesting on the stadium’s 100-foot-tall light fixtures for years, but this is the first time a camera has captured a pair’s comings and goings. The live stream is available on UF department of wildlife ecology and conservation website.

“The Osprey Cam gives us a ‘bird’s-eye view’ into the lives of these fish-eating birds,” said Mark Hostetler, professor of wildlife ecology and conservation with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Hostetler was inspired to install the wildlife camera after he saw other researchers using the technology to observe a royal albatross nest in New Zealand. The UF Osprey Cam is designed to give the public a better awareness and understanding of osprey behavior, he said.

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UF/IFAS professor named to U.S. President’s Committee on National Medal of Science

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Soil and Water Science

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Former President Barack Obama has named a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences renowned expert on tropical soils a member of the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science. Pedro Sanchez, a research professor in the soil and water sciences department, will serve his term until December 2019.

“Dr. Sanchez is not just an outstanding academic, but also a public servant who brings a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to this important role,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.

Sanchez works with the UF/IFAS Institute of Sustainable Food Systems, which focuses on feeding a burgeoning worldwide population while conserving resources. Sanchez was director of the Agriculture and Food Security Center at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he worked from 2003 to 2016.  He served as director of the Millennium Villages Project from 2004 to 2010, and co-chair of the United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger from 2002 to 2005.

Sanchez is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2003 and the World Food Prize in 2002.

Sanchez received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Cornell University.

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

Sources: Jack Payne, 352-392-1971, jackpayne@ufl.edu

Pedro Sanchez, 352-294-3130, pedrosanchez@ufl.edu

Renowned agricultural scientist joins UF/IFAS Indian River research facility

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Departments, IFAS, Pests, RECs

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Rhuanito “Johnny” Soranz Ferrarezi has joined the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to lead citrus horticulture research in the world’s premier grapefruit production region.

Ferrarezi brings more than 10 years of experience to his new position as assistant professor of citrus horticulture to the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce. He joins two additional new hires at UF/IFAS IRREC who will work as a team to assist growers as they manage citrus greening, or Huanglongbing (HLB), the industry’s most formidable pathogen.

“Dr. Ferrarezi is capable and exuberant about his work to manage crop production,” said Ronald Cave, UF/IFAS IRREC director. “He has demonstrated a fervent commitment to agriculture in his native Brazil, which is also one of the world’s most productive citrus regions, and we are confident his work in Florida will be significant.”

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UF/CALS student named prestigious 2017 “Cultivator” at national Farm Foundation® conference

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student who studies improvements to production and quality of grapes has been named UF’s second Cultivator at the 2017 Farm Foundation Round Table.

Crystal Conner, a plant science major, was one of six college students across the nation recognized as rising leaders in agriculture. The students shared their research during the conference hosted the week of Jan. 4 in Irvine, California.

“It was such an honor to first be selected by CALS Dean Elaine Turner, and then to secondly be chosen by the Farm Foundation Round Table to present my research,” Conner said. “I began this project because I wanted to learn more about tissue culture and its future possibilities. I never imagined that others would gravitate toward the possibilities of its impact at such a fast rate.”

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UF/IFAS’s Folta named Pro Farmer Ag Person of the Year

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Renowned University of Florida genomics and photobiology researcher Kevin Folta has been named 2016 Pro Farmer Ag Person of the Year. Folta is professor and chair of the horticulture sciences department at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Dr. Folta has been a leader in the fight against the anti-GMO movement for years,” said Chip Flory, Pro Farmer editorial director. “He was a natural choice for his leadership and many years of education on biotechnology, and for being committed to sharing that knowledge with the general public.”

Folta publishes a website and podcast titled “Talking Biotech” (www.talkingbiotechpodcast.com). Its purpose is to “help connect the public to current science and technology and let scientists tell the stories of how science can help our farmers, industrialized world consumers, the environment and the developing world,” Folta said. “The hope is this resource can explain how new tools can improve food security, reduce poverty and improve agricultural and medical practices.”

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Accepting Academic Challenges to Reach Graduation

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Departments, Graduation, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  College was never a thought in Leigh Ann Skurupey’s mind as a high school student. Now, she’ll be graduating this week with a doctorate in animal sciences.

The University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) graduate student began her higher education journey in an effort to change people’s minds about her abilities. Skurupey has dyslexia, a learning disability that makes learning to read and interpret words, letters or symbols difficult. School has always been harder for her as she works daily to overcome her reading challenges.

Skurupey joined 458 UF/CALS students who graduated at 4 p.m. on Dec. 16, and 10 a.m. on Saturday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

As a high school student, Skurupey overheard her mother telling her younger brother he needed to work on improving his grades. Skurupey’s brother asked why their mother didn’t scold her for lower grades, to which their mother replied, “she’s just not quite smart enough.”

“Once I heard her say that, it was my only reason why I went to school – to prove her wrong,” Skurupey said.

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