U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the University of Florida (UF) the sixth best public university in the United States. Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC), tells how a high ranking for UF can benefit Florida citrus.
“This (the ranking) really attracts a lot of opportunities for the university,” Rogers says. He points out that prior recognition of UF as an outstanding university greatly aided it in its major artificial intelligence initiative. He says that initiative “really got jump started because of a couple of donors” who provided about $50 million for a super-computer at UF’s main campus in Gainesville. “We wouldn’t have this if we weren’t demonstrated to be such a high-ranking university.”
“For us in agriculture, especially citrus research, we’ve been brainstorming all the different applications we can use this (artificial intelligence) for here in citrus … It’s a long list,” Rogers says. As examples, he says, artificial intelligence can aid in precision breeding, crop improvement, refinement of grove management practices and improving pest and disease management. “The possibilities are really endless.”
Having a high ranking also helps UF “attract some of the best and brightest graduate students” from the United States and abroad, Rogers says. Many of those students perform research at UF, including in citrus. “A lot of these really bright, next-generation scientists are doing their work here at UF” and helping solve current and future problems, he says. International students “bring a different way of thinking about things.” If foreign students return to their home countries, “we now have a collaborator overseas.”
Rogers adds that those graduate students performing research are funded in several ways. Some international students come to UF with funding from their home countries, or may have grants to work on specific projects. At the CREC, he says, two endowments for graduate students are funded by the citrus industry.
This interview with Rogers is featured in September’s All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.
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