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UF/IFAS CAIP Affiliate Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Brent Sellers

By Olivia Doyle, UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) Communication Assistant

After serving as interim director for around a year, UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) affiliate faculty member, Dr. Brent Sellers transitioned into the role of UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research & Education Center Director in the spring of 2020. Having affiliate faculty members at CAIP allows for different subject matter experts to give insight and collaborate when invasive plants impact a specific sector of agriculture and natural resources. As a CAIP affiliate faculty member, Sellers says he serves as a voice for cattle and range lands.

Brent Sellers at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center (RCREC) in Ona, Florida.

The UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research & Education Center (RCREC) is located in Ona, Florida. The Center is a 2,840-acre working cattle ranch with around 700 cows and their calves. Two-thirds of the Center is improved pastureland and one-third is native range land. The RCREC is an inter-disciplinary Center employing six faculty members from different departments including agronomy, soil and water science, wildlife ecology and conservation, animal science and a state specialized agent in beef cattle and forage economics.

Sellers has been with the RCREC for 16 years and moved into the director position during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in challenges even for someone with his vast experience could not have been prepared for. Sellers explained the need for upgrades in the cattle handling facility that will require fundraising to build out, however, the pandemic makes the necessary fundraising a serious challenge.

“A big thing during my interview that I talked about was our facilities” Sellers commented, “our main buildings where most of the labs and the faculty are housed have been upgraded pretty significantly over the last 16 years. Farmside, minus a couple things has been pretty much ignored.” He continues, “I’m going to have to do some fundraising and with the current situation, it’s just going to have to slow that down a little bit.”

He says as a weed scientist, the biggest challenge regarding invasive plant management in the future is getting people to care. Sellers shares “Getting municipalities and absentee owners to realize that controlling some of these invasive plants is important.” The RCREC does research regarding invasive plants that impact cattle and range lands some of these including cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) and tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum).

Sellers explained his interest in investigating the role cattle play in managing invasive plant species and explained the interdisciplinary approach would require looking at cattle through the lens of conservation in plant communities.

Congratulations, Dr. Brent Sellers on your position as UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research & Education Center Director. The UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants is privileged to have you and other experienced, knowledgeable and passionate individuals on our team as affiliate faculty members.

For more information on Brent Sellers or the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research & Education  Center, visit https://rcrec-ona.ifas.ufl.edu/faculty-directory/brent-sellers/.

This piece was written by Olivia Doyle, the current UF/IFAS CAIP communication assistant. Any questions should be directed to Shelby Oesterreicher at 352-273-3667 or soesterreicher@ufl.edu For more information about the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants please visit https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu. Be sure to follow us on social @UFIFASCAIP.

UF/IFAS CAIP, Turning Science Into Solutions.