Officials pay tribute to UF/IFAS’ world-class scientific research efforts

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Distinguished researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences were honored for their work April 18 in an awards ceremony at the Harn Museum of Art.

It was the fifth year for the event, which recognized dozens of faculty members and graduate students from around the state for their scientific achievements.

IFAS scientists’ work included research that — among other things — increased cotton yields for Florida farmers, led to improved water quality in the Everglades and may help reduce incidences of the dengue and chikungunya viruses, mosquito-transmitted illnesses that cause human suffering around the world, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“It is no exaggeration to suggest that IFAS research is among the world’s best,” Payne said. “The work you do is critical to people in this state; it’s critical to people around the world. I am so proud of each and every one of you.”

John P. Hayes, IFAS interim’ dean for research, said he believes a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research in recent years has made IFAS researchers better able to tackle serious scientific problems.

“Today’s research challenges are so complex that we must be integrated across disciplines, bringing many perspectives to the table,” he said.

Some highlights from the event:

Of more than 40 scientific-journal publications noted as “high impact” research, eight were singled out as exceptional:

*Alexa Lamm, Tracy Irani, Grady Roberts and Joel Brendemuhl, “Utilizing natural cognitive tendencies to enhance agricultural education programs,” Journal of Agricultural Education.

*Pratibha Srivistava, Daniel Mailhot, B. Leite, James Marois and David Wright, “Fusarium verticilloides (Saccardo) Nirenberg associated with hardlock of cotton,” Current Microbiology.

*Madan Oli, “Coupled dynamics of body mass and population growth in response to environmental change,” Nature.

*Tim Martin and Eric Jokela, “Long-term effects of weed control and fertilization on the carbon and nitrogen pools of a slash and loblolly pine forest in north-central Florida,” Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

* Christopher Brown, Austin Davis-Richardson, Adriana Giongo, Kelsey Gano, David Crabb, Nabanita Mukherjee, George Casella and Eric Triplett, “Gut microbiome metagenomics analysis suggests a functional model for the development of autoimmunity for type 1 diabetes,” PLoS One.

*Phillip Lounibos, Manya Nishimura and Eric Blosser, “Competitive reduction by satyrization: evidence for interspecific mating in nature and asymmetric reproductive competition between invasive mosquito vectors,” Journal of the American Society of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine.

*Samira Daroub and Timothy Lang, “Best management practices and long-term water quality trends in the Everglades agricultural area,” Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology.

*Randy Ploetz, Jason Smith, Mare Hughes, Tyler Dreaden, Sharma Inch and Yuqing Fu, “Responses of avocado to laurel wilt caused by Raffaelea lauricola,” Plant Pathology.

Research Professor Emeritus Award

Robert E. Stall retired in 1998, but maintains an active plant breeding program and continues to make discoveries that help increase disease resistance in pepper, tomato and citrus.

Graduate Research Awards

Ryan Graunke, interdisciplinary ecology, best master’s thesis, for “Effect of Mechanical Pretreatment on Solubilization and Biomethanation of Food Waste.” Ann C. Wilkie of Soil and Water Science chaired the supervisory committee.

Josiah H. Townsend, best doctoral dissertation, for “Integrative Taxonomy Reveals the Chortis Block of Central America as an Underestimated Hotspot of Amphibian Diversity.” James D. Austin of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation chaired the supervisory committee.

Richard L. Jones New Faculty Research Awards

Joseph Larkin III, for his work in immunology, and Liwei Gu, for his research in bioactive food components.

Plant patents

Ann Blount and Ronald Barnett, for a new oat variety; Craig Chandler, for strawberry varieties Winter Dawn and Florida Elyana; Philip Busey, for an improved St. Augustinegrass variety; David Clark and Phuong Nguyen, for two new coleus plants; Paul Lyrene, for seven new blueberry varieties; Richard Henny and Jianjun Chen, for epipremnum Pearls and Jade®, Zhanao Deng and Brent Harbaugh, for a new caladium; Jose Chaparro and Wayne Sherman for peach trees UF One and UFGlo; Fred Gmitter, Jude Grosser and William Castle, for two new sweet orange trees and mandarin hybrid Sugar Belle®; and Donald Rockwood, for four new eucalyptus tree varieties.


Writer: Mickie Anderson, 352-273-3566,

Source: John P. Hayes, 352-392-1784,


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Posted: April 19, 2012

Category: UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Research
Tags: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, John Hayes, Research Awards

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