Vendrame, spent most of his career at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center. While there, his research included experiments on five NASA space shuttle missions.
He has also distinguished himself as a teacher, honored in 2019 as a North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Educator Award. He has played a key role in expanding international study opportunities by leading student trips abroad, drawing upon his fluency in four languages. He recently formalized a relationship with a research institute in Colombia to arrange for student exchanges.
“Dr. Vendrame has already shown exceptional leadership in mentoring department faculty, strengthening relationships with stakeholders like the green industry and securing research funding from non-traditional sources such as NASA,” said Rob Gilbert, UF’s interim senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “He knows the faculty, staff, facilities and stakeholders well, so he can immediately continue to advance the department as its interim leader.”
Vendrame came to Gainesville three years ago at the request of current Chair Dean Kopsell — a classmate of his in a Ph.D. program at the University of Georgia — to run the department’s micropropagation laboratory. Kopsell soon thereafter asked him to serve as associate chair.
Vendrame has demonstrated his leadership through service on the UF Faculty Senate and as a past member of the UF/IFAS Dean for Research Advisory Committee. He also showed great leadership as one of several faculty members who recruited Kopsell to come to UF/IFAS.
Kopsell recently accepted a position as an associate dean at UGA. His last day on campus will be Friday, Dec. 22.
In his six-and-a-half years as chair, Kopsell hired about a third of the 28 departmental tenured and tenure-track faculty in Gainesville and six research and education centers.
“Please join me in congratulating Wagner and wishing him successful moonshots as both unit leader and in his continuing participation in the NASA Artemis program to return humans to the moon. Please also join me in thanking Dean for his service to UF/IFAS,” Gilbert said.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) 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 brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.