Working at UF/IFAS CAIP is a Family Tradition

In 1979, Dan Thayer wrote a letter to Dr. William Haller that would impact the course of his entire family’s future and career paths. The letter asked if Dr. Haller would be willing to take him on as a master’s graduate student upon his graduation from Purdue University. Dr. Haller suggested they meet in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Aquatic Plant Management Society Annual Meeting.

“He drove down to Chattanooga and that was a good deal because it showed that he was definitely interested,” Dr. Haller said. “So, we attended the meeting and interviewed him.”

After attending the conference and interviewing with Dr. Haller, Dan received an offer to work under him as a graduate student. Originally from Indiana, Dan moved to Florida to pursue his degree at the University of Florida with an assistantship at the University of Florida Food and Agricultural Sciences Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (UF/IFAS CAIP). While attending the UF, Dan married his wife Marilyn Davis Thayer. Marilyn then began working as a receptionist for UF/IFAS CAIP upon her move to Florida.

In the early 1980s Dan graduated with his master’s degree in Agronomy. Dan’s father, Dr. Paul Thayer then moved down to Florida and Paul began working as a post doc at the Center. Dr. Thayer specialized in plant pathology and diseases. While at UF/IFAS CAIP, Dr. Thayer researched hydrilla tubers and their antibiotic potential, torpedograss and irrigation practices.

Years later, around 2005 Kyle Thayer, Dan’s oldest son began working for the Center while attending Santa Fe College as an undergraduate student. He assisted with research and invasive aquatic plant management studies. Kyle now works as an agricultural assistant at the University of Florida in Ft. Lauderdale working in aquatic plant maintenance and research.

Jacob Thayer began working for UF/IFAS CAIP in 2017 as an undergraduate student under the supervision of Dr. Haller. He assisted with the research conducted at the Center by monitoring plants and doing various other jobs associated with plant management research.

“My dad taught me a lot about plants growing up and I did a lot of thinking and learning about it on my own too,” Jacob Thayer said.

Now, Jacob studies under Dr. James Leary and Dr. Candice Prince as a master’s student and graduate assistant studying aquatic soil nutrients and plant growth. Jacob hopes to eventually move back to Jupiter and work in aquatic plant management.

“They’re a first-class family and there’s just no question, they work hard, they’re interested, they’re enthusiastic,” Dr. Haller said.

UF/IFAS CAIP faculty and staff work to inspire passion within each of their students. The inspiration and passion is evident within the Thayer family as each member mentioned has continued to work within the invasive aquatic plant field in some way.

Funding graduate student research and supporting students interesting in invasive aquatic plant management are two of the many goals of UF/IFAS CAIP. Any questions should be directed to Shelby Oesterreicher at 352-273-3667 or For more information about the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, please visit Be sure to follow us on social @UFIFASCAIP.

UF/IFAS CAIP, Turning Science Into Solutions.


Posted: March 23, 2020

Category: Agriculture, Invasive Species, Natural Resources, Pests & Disease, Relationships & Family, Water, Work & Life
Tags: Agriculture, Center For Aquatic And Invasive Plants, Environmental Education, Family, Graduate Student, Invasive Plants, Invasive Species, Natural Resources, Tradition, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Research

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