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IRREC Faculty Members to Lead on the UF Faculty Senate

Two local University of Florida research professors aim to represent the state’s 12 research centers that serve prominent agricultural regions in their new roles as faculty senate members.

In announcing the new leadership positions, Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), congratulated Lorenzo Rossi and Carey Minteer for their elected roles, to begin in September this year. Rossi and Minteer are assistant research professors at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce. Rossi is a plant root biology scientist; Minteer, an entomologist with expertise in biological control of invasive plants. The pair were nominated by peers and are the first from the Fort Pierce site to serve on the UF senate in 10 years, said Ronald D. Cave, director of IRREC.

Dr. Carey Minteer at a news conference during which the first biological control insects were released against the Brazilian peppertree

Dr. Lorenzo Rossi explains root biology to student intern Johnathan Capen

“It is great to have our faculty represented on the Faculty Senate,” said Cave. “Lorenzo Rossi and Carey Minteer will represent our research location among the university’s many departments and programs in Gainesville and across the entire state.”

Cave said UF/IFAS’s 12 research centers provide research, teaching, and extension for agricultural producers and stakeholders. The sites also offer graduate students and international visiting scientists opportunities to work alongside researchers who work in intensive laboratories, greenhouses, and fields to solve crop production topics such as plant disease, root health, crop and plant protection. Rossi recently won an award for outstanding delivery in undergraduate teaching. Minteer recently led efforts to distribute insects that may resolve some of the state’s most serious invasive plants. Rossi and Minteer bring fresh perspective to the needs of stakeholders, and the international scientific community.

“I would like to spend my time as a senator working to ensure that faculty, staff, and students at research centers have a voice and that challenges of not being on the main campus are considered,” said Minteer. “I would also like to focus on diversity-related issues affecting the university.”

Minteer’s platform for service as a university senator will embrace the academic community’s diversity. Rossi’s thrust on the collegiate committee will involve university-wide community relations and outreach.

“It is important to have representation from our research center and the other center’s in Florida,” Rossi said. He noted that UF/IFAS is the university’s statewide land-grant function that serves fruit and vegetable growers and aims to protect the state’s high-value natural resources.

“The entire university of Florida needs to understand IFAS serves two of Florida’s top industries – agriculture – and natural resources,” said Rossi. “I want to drive awareness across the entire campus that their research center professors work to solve agricultural and water resource issues, and that our achievements are remarkable. I want our colleagues and student body to know faculty at our centers instruct globally recognized high-quality undergraduate and graduate courses.”

Cave said Rossi and Minteer’s goals align well with Ray Thomas’s vision to strengthen a system of shared governance, and provide additional channels for faculty input to committees and councils.

“We can advocate for a civil work environment that values diversity, and at the same time, preserve our cherished academic freedom that allows for the free flow of ideas.”