Voices of UF/IFAS – Sandra Anderson
Name: Sandra Anderson
Position: Research Coordinator
Current city: Gainesville
Hometown: Born in New York (Brooklyn) moved to Lake Worth, FL when I was 11
Years at UF/IFAS: 6
Describe your role at UF/IFAS:
My main role at the Center for Public Issues Education is collaborating with faculty and staff to coordinate, support, and manage research projects and grants both quantitative and qualitative in nature. I oversee all aspects of the research process including, grant/proposal writing, IRB submissions, survey development, data collection, data analysis, and writing research for presentation. I have extensive knowledge in qualitative data collection techniques and quantitative data collection software that I utilize to train staff and students who work with the PIE Center. In addition, I mentor graduate and undergraduate students during their time with the PIE Center and maintain several administrative roles that support the operation of the PIE Center.
How did your background and experiences shape your interest in your current field?
My parents being from Jamaica were raised with a heavy reliance on the land and always stressed the importance of agriculture to my sister and me. My father’s family lived in the more rural parts of Jamaica and they relied on what they could grow and raise on their land for survival. My mother’s family lived in a more urban part of the country and mostly relied on local food markets where people from the country sold their products. With their journey to the United States, they did not lose that appreciation for the role agriculture and natural resources played in their lives and they imparted that on us. My fascination with research began a little more organically as my inquisitive nature led me to always want to find answers. I was always the one trying to figure out the why, how, when and what of every puzzling situation.
My interest in agriculture and natural resources became more evident throughout my college career as I solidified my major in Agribusiness Management while attending the University of Florida, where I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While in graduate school, I also worked for a private firm conducting social, economic, political, and marketing research. That acted as a catalyst that fed my desire to develop a career in research. After receiving my Master of Science degree with a specialization in Natural Resource and Environmental Economics, I went on to work for that private firm as a Research Director for almost 20 years. However, fate led me back to the University of Florida by way of the PIE Center where I have been able to do research surrounding issues that I am passionate about. It has also afforded me the opportunity to share my research knowledge and experience with students as they embark on their own research journeys.
Who do you admire?
The person I admire the most is my mother. Entering this country as an immigrant, she never let that hold her back from reaching her dreams. She taught me that no dream was impossible no matter who you are or where you are from. She carved a path for me to ensure I would be able to achieve anything I set my mind to. Most importantly, she instilled in me the capacity to embrace people’s differences by being fair and inclusive in all areas of my life while still maintaining pride in my own uniqueness. These are traits I have been able to pass on to my daughter as she finds her way in the world.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a time to celebrate African Americans’ accomplishments and contributions to society. It is also, for me, a time to not only reflect on how far we have come but also how far we still have left to go.
Would you like us to link to any of your work?
UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education | UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (piecenter.com)
What inspires you?
I am inspired when I learn new things and can pass that knowledge on to another person. It gives me a sense of personal satisfaction to be able to share information that positively impacts someone else’s learning process. Then hopefully they will pass it on.