15 UF/IFAS Early Career Scientists Awarded $50K Grants

Daniel Cooper Industry News Release

careerFifteen early career scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Scientists (UF/IFAS) have been awarded grants to help solve global issues such as thwarting invasive pests, improving crop varieties, battling citrus greening and preserving our environment.

The faculty members will receive about $50,000 each as part of UF’s Early Career Scientist Seed Fund program to help develop new faculty research, said Jackie Burns, UF/IFAS dean for research. UF/IFAS works with the UF vice president for research on the program.

“This year’s competition was highly competitive, with 25 early career scientists presenting excellent proposals,” Burns said. “After a rigorous review by a panel of UF/IFAS scientists, I am pleased to announce 15 awards. The research projects represented by these awards demonstrate the breadth of UF/IFAS research programs.”

The awarded 2017 Early Career Seed Funding Proposals are:

  • Brian Bahder; entomology and nematology/Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (REC). “Potential insect vectors and genetic diversity of palm-infecting phytoplasmas in the Caribbean basin.
  • Mathieu Basille; wildlife ecology and conservation/Fort Lauderdale REC; “Ecological flows in human-dominated landscapes: individuals, genes, and pathogens.
  • Alan Chambers; horticultural sciences/Tropical REC; “Innovating tropical fruit improvement through consumer-friendly biotechnology.”
  • Adam Dale; entomology and nematology; “The effects of turfgrass diversity on arthropod pests and biological control in urban landscapes.”
  • Young Gu Her; agricultural and biological engineering/Tropical REC; “Development of a simulation tool for holistic assessment of climate change and sea level rise impacts on South Florida’s agriculture and hydrology.”
  • Basil Iannone; School of Forest Resources and Conservation; “Evaluating the contribution of biotic complexity to pest control in ornamental plant communities.”
  • Seonghee Lee; horticultural sciences/Gulf Coast REC; “Development of CRISPR/Cas gene-editing technology in strawberry.”
  • Tong Geon Lee; horticultural sciences/Gulf Coast REC; “Development and deployment of a genomics pipeline for rapid detection of structural variation in plant genomes.”
  • Amit Levy; plant pathology/Citrus REC; “Role of vesicle trafficking, callose and calcium in the interactions of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus with host plant and the Asian Citrus Psyllid.”
  • Hui-Ling (Sunny) Liao; soil and water Sciences/North Florida REC; “An emerging strategy (Combined Metaomics & CRISPR) for the study of ectomycorrhizal symbiosis between Suillus and Pinaceae, with emphasis on their roles in fungal-plant cross talk and nutrient cycling.”.
  • Brandon McFadden; food and resource economics; “Using eye tracking to determine the effectiveness of the updated nutrition facts panel.”
  • Justin Renkema; entomology and nematology/Gulf Coast REC; “Developing molecular tools to determine impacts of beneficial invertebrates in Florida small fruit agroecosystems.”
  • Sarah Strauss; soil and water Sciences/Southwest Florida REC; “Impact of propagation method on citrus rhizosphere development.”
  • Christopher Vincent; horticultural sciences/Citrus REC; “Primed acclimation of citrus to improve resistance to Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus.”
  • Yu Wang; food science and human nutrition/Citrus REC; “Bioactivity-­guided identification of adipogenesis inhibitors in the Huanglongbing (HLB) infected orange.”