GAINESVILLE, Fla. — 2018 was a productive year for UF/IFAS with advances in agricultural and natural resources research, building positive relationships with growers and supporting the state’s 20 million plus residents after two devastating hurricanes. UF/IFAS’ top news stories included post-hurricane efforts by faculty and staff, faculty who won prestigious national teaching awards and the launch of an industrial hemp project.
But the response from UF/IFAS Extension faculty and others after Hurricane Michael was so fast and earnest that it tops the annual list top UF/IFAS stories for 2018:
- Hurricane Michael Help: The category 4 storm struck the Panhandle Oct. 10, and wreaked havoc on several counties. UF/IFAS Extension faculty helped distribute food and other supplies to the hungry, assess damage and economic impact, repair fences on farms and ranches and gave overall help to their neighbors.
- All in for Citrus – UF/IFAS researchers and Extension faculty are doing all they can to stem citrus greening from doing any further damage to the state’s multimillion dollar-a-year signature crop. This includes new greening-tolerant rootstocks and scions, nutrition research, growing citrus under protective screens and developing system to deliver chemicals to try to keep the Asian citrus psyllid at bay.
- Top Teachers — Two faculty members with the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) received Excellence in Teaching Awards from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an arm of the USDA. Monika Oli, a lecturer in microbiology and cell science, received one of two national Teaching and Student Engagement awards. Kimberly Moore, a professor of environmental horticulture, received one of six regional awards to further her teaching program. Both were honored Nov. 11 at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.
- Hemp Research: The pilot research program will explore the potential to grow industrial hemp across Florida. UF/IFAS is conducting field trials in Quincy, Hague and Homestead, Florida. Industrial hemp is a Cannabis sativa plant that has been cultivated for 10,000 years as a fiber and grain crop. It is not medical marijuana.
- Kellogg Award — For the first time, a UF-based team won a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award, one of four presented in 2018. The award recognized the Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities project, a multistate research and outreach effort that engaged residents of six Gulf Coast communities impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
- NSF Scholars — Six UF/IFAS CALS graduate students earned National Science Foundation fellowships this year out of more than 12,000 students from across the country who applied. The fellowship program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines who are pursuing degrees at American institutions.
- Oyster Reef Restoration — Oyster reefs help increase coastal resilience in the face of climate change and sea level rise. The problem: oyster reefs are disappearing. Over the past 30 years, 88 percent of large offshore oyster reefs have degraded or disappeared entirely in Florida’s Big Bend region. That’s why UF/IFAS scientists have used a $6.8 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation — and the hard work and support of numerous state agencies and local construction companies — to restore the 3-mile long Lone Cabbage Reef. This December, a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the reef kicked off the next stage of the project: to monitor the estuary ecosystem the restored reef will now protect for years to come.
- Honey Bee Lab — August 2018 saw the official opening of the UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory on the grounds of the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department. This three-building complex vastly increases the university’s teaching, research and Extension capacity with regard to economically important honey bees as well as environmentally important wild pollinators.
- Saving Millions for the Lobster Industry — UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant, working with the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, facilitated aerial reconnaissance efforts and data analysis that helped Florida Keys lobstermen retrieve their gear after Hurricane Irma. The efforts saved the industry nearly $4 million.
- MREC Turns 50 – The UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida, celebrated its 50th Faculty at the center conduct research and do Extension work mostly for the environmental horticulture industry, which generates $21.8 billion for the Florida economy, according to UF/IFAS economists.
- Antarctica, Here I Come – Christina Davis, a doctoral student in the microbiology and cell science department at UF/IFAS CALS, joined a team of scientists and staff to explore the Mercer Subglacial Lake in Antarctica for the first time. The project aims to discover what lies beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, firstname.lastname@example.org
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.