Graduate Students Play Big Role in Research

Ernie NeffResearch

graduate students
Ibukun “Timothy” Ayankojo is a soil and water sciences doctoral student who resides at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) faculty members play the lead role in citrus research, but they depend heavily on graduate students to get the work done. Kelly Morgan, director of the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC), explains the graduate students’ role in research, after first discussing new graduate student housing being constructed at SWFREC.

Groundbreaking for the new graduate student housing began recently. “This new facility will increase our ability to bring graduate students to the center, and to do the much needed work for our clientele,” Morgan says. “We currently only have room for 15 students on the campus.” Additionally, he says, off-campus housing is leased for four more students. “This new dorm will (house) eight,” eliminating the need for the graduate students to rent housing, he says. “This graduate residence will allow the students to stay here on campus. They don’t have to compete in the very limited rental market here in the Immokalee area. They’re on the site so they can get their work done and get on with their programs and earn their degrees.”

Morgan gives credit to Southwest Florida growers who provided half of the funding for the new residence facility; the other half was funded by UF/IFAS.

Morgan turns to the need for graduate students at SWFREC and other UF/IFAS research facilities. “The limited number of faculty we have can’t do the amount of work that they would like” or are committed to perform, Morgan says. So researchers hire full-time technicians, and “they bring on graduate students. And a lot of the research work is done by the graduate students. They come in; they have a very specific part of a project that they are responsible for doing. They do that in addition to their class work and they earn their degrees. So it’s a tremendous partnership between the faculty and the students to get the work done that the clientele need.”

This interview with Morgan is featured in the latest episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large