Get to know… is a feature for UF/IFAS CREC social media. In it, we get to know one of the faculty, staff or students working at UF/IFAS CREC. Rhonda Schumann is a valued colleague who supports many research programs across the station as a Chemist III.
When did you start working at UF/IFAS CREC?
I started working at the CREC in April of 2000. I had left my job as a Research Officer at the South African Sugar Association Experiment Station after my husband, Arnold, accepted a position at UF. I was looking for a job when I applied for a position as Senior Chemist with Dr. Herb Nigg. He hired me the same day of my interview and I was with him until he retired in 2006. In January 2007 I began working for Dr. Michael Rogers as a Senior Chemist.
What are your responsibilities at CREC?
As a Chemist III, I currently perform chemical analysis of residues (primarily pesticides) in citrus plant tissue and soil using HPLC-Mass Spec. I also am responsible for the management and disposal of the chemical and hazardous waste generated at the CREC. For the better part of the past 20 years, I have also been responsible for the hazardous spill/release response team.
What are you really proud about working at CREC?
It gives me satisfaction knowing that the chemical and hazardous waste generated here at the CREC is managed and disposed in compliance with all EPA and DOT regulations. I am proud of the certifications I maintain to be qualified for this duty.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I am blessed to be paid to do something I love, chemistry. The most rewarding part of my job is the problem- solving aspect of method development in chemical residue analysis. Method development is not every chemist’s favorite activity. However, I get great satisfaction from utilizing my skills and knowledge while learning and exploring others during method development. I enjoy the challenge of being tasked to analyze a chemical compound I have not worked with before. It is satisfying, after working out the chemical and instrument parameters of a method, to be able to tell someone “Yes, I can perform this analysis for you”.
I have benefited from working in the CREC environment and have formed many rewarding relationships, both professional and personal.
Who is your favorite superhero?
At present, Vulodymyr Zelenskyy and the rest of the people of Ukraine.
What is your favorite type of citrus?
CUPS grown UF 711 tangerine and UF 914 Grapefruit hybrid. Thank you, Arnold, and Fred!
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere in the Cape of South Africa and Stellenbosch. I love so many areas of my home state of Georgia, and particularly the piedmont region and northwards into the mountains. Sapelo Island is also lovely.
What is your favorite thing to cook/eat?
I guess cooking is my favorite hobby, and I enjoy just about any kind of food, but especially well-prepared Indian food. When travelling, I like South African Cape mussels in garlic and wine sauce and have enjoyed amazing ones at both Simonstown and Groot Constantia. Closer to home, I cannot leave Athens, Georgia without having chicken tacos with a side of vegetarian chili at the Taco Stand.
If you could invite three people to share a meal with, who would it be (other than family)?
Dave Grohl, Rick Bragg, and Diana Rigg.
What is your favorite song or recording artist?
I have been listening to Antonio Carlos Jobim for decades and in recent years, Melody Gardot. For nostalgia, REM’s 1982 debut EP “Chronic Town”.
Do you have a favorite movie? Book?
My favorite book is “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquze. I find myself re-reading “The Moonflower Vine” by Jetta Carlton and John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden”. I have several favorite movies, but “Evil Under the Sun” is probably number one followed by “Gosford Park” and “Sling Blade”.