UF weed scientist to lead aquatic invasives center

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida weed scientist has been named director of the Center of Aquatic and Invasive Plants, a unit that develops environmentally sound techniques to manage invasive weeds.

Jason Ferrell, an agronomy professor at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, was named to the position by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agricultural and natural resources.

“Dr. Ferrell has been through UF/IFAS leadership programs has shown expertise in controlling invasive plants that affect our ecosystems, so he was the ideal choice to lead the center,” Payne said.

Ferrell, who’s worked at UF/IFAS since 2004, enjoys his work as a scientist but, as he worked with his lab staff and students, he realized he wanted to spread his wings into a leadership position.

Among his many goals, Ferrell hopes to work with state agencies and UF/IFAS Extension faculty to bridge the knowledge gap among some clientele. Some of those clients seem to have qualms about such invasive control techniques as pesticides or herbicides, Ferrell said.

“CAIP is not a ‘this is what you spray’ group,” Ferrell said, referring to herbicide or pesticide treatment of invasive aquatic plants. “It is a management entity that looks at every piece of the puzzle and tries to figure out how we can link them together to develop a management plan.”

Ferrell has outlined several other goals for when he starts his new position in July.

He would like to increase communication among the multidisciplinary faculty members at the center so that their research and Extension activities into invasive aquatic plants overlap more.

From there, he’d like the center’s voice to grow with regional and national groups that study and conduct outreach on invasive aquatic plants.

The Legislature established the center in 1978. Faculty and staff at the center work extensively with the state’s water management districts and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to control invasive plants. Two UF/IFAS faculty members work at the center on Millhopper Road in Gainesville, while several other faculty members in Gainesville and at UF/IFAS research and education centers around Florida contribute to the center’s mission.

Ferrell started at UF/IFAS in 2004 as an assistant professor of agronomy, specializing in weed science. Along the way, he’s received numerous honors and awards, including Outstanding Extension Specialist, Researcher of the Year by the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and Weed Scientist of the Year and Florida Weed Science Society.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant and soil science from the University of Kentucky. He earned his doctorate in agronomy from the University of Georgia in 2003.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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