UF/IFAS researchers praised for scientific efforts in seventh awards night

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — High-quality scientific research was again in the spotlight as the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences held its annual research awards program May 14 at the Harn Museum.

The event brought together dozens of UF/IFAS faculty members, graduate students and stakeholders from around the state.

Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said the annual event is always a thrill.

“I love seeing so many of our faculty together, celebrating such great scientific research,” he said. “I truly believe the minds gathered here represent some of the best and brightest academic minds anywhere, and that their work will help change the world.”

John Hayes, UF/IFAS dean for research, added, “Every year UF/IFAS researchers continue to push the frontiers of science to new heights.  This year was a particularly strong year for IFAS research, and the faculty achieved so many great accomplishments that it was tough to hone the program down to a manageable level.”

Hayes, who will be moving this summer to a new academic post at Colorado State University, said “it has been an honor to serve with so many great programs and scientists at UF/IFAS.  The work being done here is truly phenomenal.”

Early Career Scientists

Seventeen UF/IFAS researchers were recognized for receiving Early Career Scientist “seed funding” to support work that could help shape their careers: Gul Shad Ali, plant pathology, “Identification and functional characterization of host targets of Phytophthora effector,” Benjamin Baiser, wildlife ecology and conservation, “The role of food-web structure in species invasion,” Jose Dubeux, agronomy, “Forage legumes as a tool to reduce carbon footprint of cattle production systems in Florida,” Luke Flory, agronomy, “Interactive effects of Imperata cylindrical (cogongrass) invasion and soil moisture availability on longleaf pine establishment,” Stefan Gerber, soil and water science, “Tropical wetlands in the earth system,” Kelly Grogan, food and resource economics, “Occurrence vs. severity: Optimal forest management and rotation length in the presence of fire risk in Florida,” Liwei Gu, food science and human nutrition, “Novel hydrogenolytic depolymerization of non-absorbable proanthocyanidin polymers to produce absorbable and more bioactive monomers and oligomers,” Timothy Hackmann, animal sciences, “Unravelling metabolic function of natural bacterial communities with fluorescent compounds,” Hartwig Hochmair, forest resources and conservation, “Analysis of travel behavior and user contribution patterns from volunteered geographic information,” Bryan Kolaczkowski, microbiology and cell science, “Functional evolution of antiviral immune signaling by RIG-like receptors: Providing a scientific foundation for immune-modulating therapies,” Ramon Leon, agronomy, “Development of molecular tools to study coevolution between herbicide resistance and other adaptive traits in Amaranthus palmeri,” Corwin Nelson, animal sciences, “Improving disease resistance of pigs through dissecting the contribution of vitamin D for porcine immunity,” Mercy Olmstead, horticultural sciences, “Cultivating the ideal peach: Determining the impact of nutrition management on peach flavor and aroma development,” Matthew Smith, plant pathology, “Elucidating the biology and ecology of the pecan truffle (Tuber lyonii) in pecan orchards in Florida and nearby southeastern states,” Zhaohui Tong, agricultural and biological engineering, “Depolymerizing lignin to aromatic platform chemicals and biofuel precursors using biomimetic Fenton catalyst,” Jianping Wang, agronomy, “Identifying the genetic components controlling the nodulation in peanut,” Shouan Zhang, plant pathology, “Development of microsatellite markers for Peronospora belbahrii, the causal agent of downy mildew of basil.”

The 2013 winners of the Early Career Scientists’ funding presented their research and impacts at a poster session. They include: Barry Alto, Stephanie Bohlman, Randall Cantrell, Nicolas DiLorenzo, John Driver, Robert Fletcher, Salvador Gezan, Erica Goss, Jiri Hulcr, Kwang Jeong, Christopher Martinez, Anne Mathews, Robert McCleery, Eric McLamore, Mathews Paret, Kelly Rice and Lincoln Zotarelli.

High Impact Research Publications

Of the 44 scientific journal publications noted as “high impact” research in IFAS, eight were singled out for special recognition. They include: Thomas Chouvenc, Caroline Efstathion, Monica Elliott and Nan-Yao Su (Invasive Species) for “Extended disease resistance emerging from the faecal nest of a subterranean termite,” Sarah Cochran and Pete Hansen (Agricultural Sustainability) for “Discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms in candidate genes associated with fertility and production traits in Holstein cattle,” Matthew Cohen, Marie Kurz and Chad Foster (Ecosystem Health) for “Diel phosphorus variation and the stoichiometry of ecosystem metabolism in a large spring-fed river,” Thomas Colquhoun, Michael Schwieterman, Jessica Gilbert, Elizabeth Jaworski, Kelly Langer, Correy Jones, Gabrielle Rushing, Tia Hunter, James Olmstead, David Clark and Kevin Folta (Food Quality) for “Light modulation of volatile organic compounds from petunia flowers and select fruits,” Je Hyeong Jung, Wilfred Vermerris, Maria Gallo, Jeffrey Fedenko, John Erickson and Fredy Altpeter (Energy Production) for “RNA interference suppression of lignin biosynthesis increases fermentable sugar yields for biofuel production from field-grown sugarcane,” Rajinder Mann, Russell Rouseff, Jack Smoot, Wendy Meyer, Siddharth Tiwari and Lukasz Stelinski (Invasive Species) for “Chemical and behavioral analysis of the cuticular hydrocarbons from Asian citrus psyllid,” Charles Moss and Michael Gunderson (Economic Health) for “Accounting for complex entities: Implications for ARMS,” Anna-Lisa Paul, Claire Amalfiano and Robert Ferl (Plant Physiology) for “Plant growth strategies are remodeled by spaceflight.”

Research Professor Emeritus Award

Kenneth J. Boote, an emeritus professor in agronomy, retired in 2009 but has continued his research at a full-time pace with international impacts on global food security. He was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011.

Graduate Research Awards of Excellence

After a comprehensive review of the best thesis and dissertation from each CALS major, the IFAS Research Award Committees selected the best master’s thesis and best doctoral dissertation for UF/IFAS.

Best Master’s Thesis

Susanna M. Gomez, soil and water science, “Recycling Agricultural By-Products to Grow Sugarcane on Sandy Soils in South Florida.” Advisory committee chair Samira Daroub, Everglades Research and Education Center, soil and water science.

Best Doctoral Dissertation

Leandro Gomide Neves, plant molecular and cellular biology, “Exome Sequencing for High-Throughput Genomic Analysis of Trees.” Advisory committee co-chairs William B. Barbazuk, botany, and Matias Kirst, School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

Richard L. Jones New Faculty Research Award

The Richard L. Jones Award is presented to new, untenured faculty members who have just begun developing a distinguished record of research in their first three years at the University of Florida. This year the two awards went to:

Barry Alto, of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, for his work on the ecology of mosquito-borne viruses. His program is demonstrating that competition and exposure to pesticides during the larval stages alters the mosquito’s adult life span and its transmission of arboviruses.

Robert McCleery, of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, whose research program aims to understand how wildlife responds to anthropogenic changes to their environment and to find ways to maintain wildlife communities and populations that foster health ecosystems.

Utility Patents

The majority of plant varieties that are developed by UF/IFAS plant breeders are protected through U.S. plant and utility patents and this last year, UF/IFAS had eight utility patents and 18 plant patents.

Lonnie Ingram, Keelnatham Shanmugam: Ethanol Production in Non-Recombinant Hosts

Russell Rouseff, Lukasz Stelinski: Methods and Compositions for the Treatment and Prevention of Citrus Greening Disease

Arnold Schumann, Howard Hostler: Managing Application of Agrochemicals to Plants

Curtis Hannah: Methods and Materials for Increasing Starch Biosynthesis in Plants

Lonnie Ingram, Keelnatham Shanmugam, Lorraine Yomano, Tammy Grabar and Jonathan Moore: Materials and Methods for Efficient Lactic Acid Production

Svetlana Folimonova, William Dawson: Viral Based Transient Expression Vector System that allows Multiple Applications

Nan Yao-Su: Use of Molt-Accelerating Compounds, Ecdysteroids, Analogs Therof, and Chitin Synthesis Inhibitors for Controlling Termites

Lonnie Ingram, Keelnatham Shanmugam: Materials and Methods for the Efficient Production of Acetate and Other Products

Plant Patents

Jose Chaparro, Wayne Sherman, Tom Beckman, peach rootstock ‘MP-29’; Craig Chandler, strawberry, ‘FL 05-107’; Zhanao Deng, Brent Harbaugh, Gerbera, ‘UFGE 4141’, ‘UFGE 7014’, ‘UFGE 7032’, ‘UFGE 7034’ and ‘UFGE 7015’; Fred Gmitter, mandarin, ‘950’; Kevin Kenworthy, Gregg Nuessly and Ronald Cherry,  seashore paspalum turfgrass ‘Aloha’; David Clark, coleus, ‘UF0843’ and ‘UF08174’; Ann Blount, Ken Quesenberry, bahiagrass ‘UF-Riata’; red clover ‘Barduro’; Barry Tillman, Dan Gorbet, peanut, ‘AP-4’, ‘York,’ ‘107,’ ‘Florida Fancy,’ Ann Blount, Gordon Prine, ryegrass, ‘MAR Early 4X’.

 

University of Florida Research Foundation Professors

The University of Florida Research Foundation Professorships are awarded to tenured faculty members who have a recent distinguished record of research.  This year’s recipients are:

Matthew J. Cohen

Associate Professor of Forest Water Resources/Hydrology

School of Forest Resources and Conservation

 

Valérie de Crécy-Lagard

Associate Professor of Microbiology and Cell Science

Microbiology and Cell Science

 

Jeffrey B. Jones

Professor of Bacterial Plant Pathogens

Plant Pathology

 

Graham C. Lamb

Professor of Animal Sciences

Animal Sciences – North Florida REC – Marianna

 

Yuncong Li

Professor of Plant Nutrition

Soil and Water Science – Tropical REC – Homestead

 

Lukasz L. Stelinski

Associate Professor of Entomology and Nematology

Entomology and Nematology – Citrus REC – Lake Alfred

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Contacts

Writer:  Mickie Anderson, 352-273-3566, mickiea@ufl.edu

Source: John P. Hayes, 352-392-1784, hayesj@ufl.edu