Research Roadmap

The IFAS Research Roadmap is a faculty-driven, faculty-based plan that is a comprehensive self-examination of who we are as researchers, what we need to be as a viable and enviable research team for the next 20 to 30 years and how we want to get there.

Executive Summaries

Search

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Research Opportunities

An investment in biological engineering programs will position Agricultural and Biological Engineering to compete more aggressively and effectively with many strategic federal research and development activities such as biofuels and bioproducts, nanobiotechnology and nanoscale science, hydrologic/environmental modeling and food safety.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Biological engineering in biofuels and bioproducts, biocomplexity, nanobiotechnology and nano-scale science and food safety
  • Water resources engineering, modeling and simulation for decision support
  • Postharvest engineering particularly in specialty crops

Critical Hires

  • Biosensors
  • Packaging and postharvest engineering
  • Crop, climate and biological system modeling
  • Nanobiotechnology and nano-scale science
  • Irrigation and water management
  • Open water and stream hydrology
  • Computational hydrology

Agricultural Education and Communication

Research Opportunities

Agricultural Education and Communication will use the national research agenda to frame research programs so that we may access national data sets and collaborate with scientists in other disciplines in order to expand our research capacity. A new research focus will be to establish a state/national center for public issues education in agriculture and natural resources.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Public policy development
  • Leading managing change.
  • Agricultural literacy.
  • Leadership in global context.
  • International development through extension, communication and education.

Critical Hires

  • Extension education, with emphasis on international contexts.
  • Experiential and inquiry-based learning.
  • Traditional and community-based social marketing.
  • Distance education and multimedia technology applications.
  • Agricultural awareness and opinion formation.

Agronomy

Research Opportunities

Agronomy will focus on food, feed, fiber and energy production with research in sustainable production systems; traditional plant breeding and molecular biology, physiology and ecology; carbon sequestration and ecosystem services; and weed ecology and management.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Genetics/genomics.
  • Bio energy.
  • Climate change/carbon sequestration.
  • Sustainable production systems.
  • Invasive plants.
  • International programs.

Critical Hires

  • Plant breeding for bio energy crops.
  • Environmental weed ecology.
  • Whole plant physiology.
  • Global agroecology and crop modeling.
  • Translational genomics.
  • Aquatic/invasive plants.
  • International agronomy.

Animal Sciences

Research Opportunities

Animal Sciences' focus will continue to be on the primary forage-consuming species (beef and dairy cattle and horses) and their products (meat, milk, recreation and sport). Research direction will be enhanced by our capacity to use tools of functional genomics and proteomics combined with unique models of animal performance as they relate to tropical and subtropical environments.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Genomics and proteomics
  • Models of animal performance particularly in tropical and subtropical environments
  • Livestock systems analysis

Critical Hires

  • Equine physiology
  • Rumen microbiology
  • Livestock systems management
  • Forage utilization nutrition
  • Animal behavior
  • Meat science
  • Nutrition management
  • Physiological genetics with emphasis on lactation and immune function
  • Forage genetics

Citrus REC - Lake Alfred

Research Opportunities

A major objective of Citrus REC's research is to provide the basic foundation needed to develop long-term, sustainable, economically viable solutions to controlling Huanglongbing disease (HLB), also commonly called citrus greening, through resistant trees or by discovering and breaking a weak link in the life cycle of the HLB bacterium. Some other major directions include: automated harvest and postharvest technologies, bioinformatics, exotic citrus disease pathology, and integrated disease and arthropod pest management strategies.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Huanglongbing, exotic diseases.
  • Understanding interactions among citrus trees, pests, diseases and the environment.
  • Citrus fruit and juice safety and quality.
  • Water use and quality.
  • Agro-ecosystem management.
  • Bioinformatics and computational biology.
  • Citrus biochemistry and by-products utilization.
  • Citrus nursery management.
  • Functional genomics.
  • Microscopy-based physiology.
  • Plant disease vector biology.
  • Plant pathogen ecology.
  • Whole plant approaches to stress and disease.

Critical Hires

  • Plant molecular biology.
  • Citrus biochemistry.
  • Citrus horticulture and physiology.
  • Acarology and biological control.

Entomology and Nematology

Research Opportunities

Entomology and Nematology will focus on Florida's unusual susceptibility to invasions of exotic tropical and subtropical insect pests by determining the patterns and long-term ecological impacts of these invasions. A second opportunity is insect conservation and biodiversity, where we could expand into such areas as insect migratory behavior, conservation biology and habitat restoration ecology.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Fundamental research capabilities in molecular studies, behavior and ecology
  • Understanding pathways of entry, mechanisms of survival and dispersal by invasive insects
  • Community and ecosystem-level effects of invasives
  • Integration of biological control into organic and sustainable agriculture via augmentative and conservation biological control
  • Ecology of insect vectors of plant disease

Critical Hires

  • Nematode molecular physiology and genomics
  • Community ecology with emphasis on invasives
  • Systematics and taxonomy of economically important insects

Environmental Horticulture

Research Opportunities

Research opportunities for Environmental Horticulture include applications of horticultural practices to ecosystem conservation and restoration; landscape sustainability in design and installation of sustainable Florida landscapes; biotechnology and conventional breeding leading to the production of new landscape varieties; and postharvest physiology of fresh cut flowers, flowering potted plants and foliage plants.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Breeding and biotechnology of improved landscape and turfgrass varieties that use fewer natural resources
  • Applications of horticultural practices to ecosystem conservation/restoration
  • Nursery/greenhouse production and postharvest physiology
  • Invasive plant management

Critical Hires

  • Growth and development physiology with emphasis on sustainability
  • Postharvest physiology of floral crops
  • Plant physiology/biotechnology of landscape plants
  • Conservation horticulture

Everglades REC - Belle Glade

Research Opportunities

The Everglades REC is positioned to become a leader in biofuels energy research. Other major trends to address include: decreasing agriculture's carbon footprint; understanding the processes controlling nutrient availability and retention in soils; improving food quality and safety; and linking agriculture to sustainability.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Plant breeding and agronomy for biofuels
  • Maintaining soil quality for agricultural production
  • Cuban agriculture
  • Everglades restoration and management practices at the farm level to improve water quality
  • Wetlands restoration and nutrient management

Critical Hires

  • Weed science
  • Lettuce and turf breeding
  • Plant pathology
  • Economics
  • Grass breeding for biofuels
  • Food safety and food microbiology
  • Wetlands ecology
  • Biofuels agronomy
  • Limnology

Family, Youth, and Community Sciences

Research Opportunities

Major trends and opportunities for Family, Youth, and Community Sciences include risk assessment, decision making and response; interdisciplinary research to address well-being, risk resilience and diversity; science-based policy assessment and analysis; understanding diversity; and advanced statistical techniques for analysis of change over time among multiple variables.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Youth development and understanding how individual, family and community interact
  • Child development (birth to age 10)
  • Enhanced science-based policy assessment and analysis
  • Applied developmental science research and methodology
  • Diversity (racial, socioeconomic status, family structures, risk, care-giving)

Critical Hires

  • International and cultural diversity
  • Social and behavioral sciences

Florida Medical Entomology Lab - Vero Beach

Research Opportunities

The Florida Medical Entomology Lab research will continue to address the potential for emerging vectorborne diseases. Florida and the U.S. rely on our research efforts to develop more accurate methods of vector surveillance, vector-borne disease surveillance and more effective vector control.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Molecular and biochemical aspects of arthropod biology
  • Biology and ecology of arthropods in their natural environment
  • Physiology of mosquitoes and other insects
  • Genetics, including transgenesis and transformation of insects
  • Insect behavior and ecology
  • Vector-virus interactions
  • Improved control strategies

Critical Hires

  • Arbovirus epidemiology
  • Molecular biology of arboviruses
  • Vector genomics

Food and Resource Economics

Research Opportunities

Food and Resource Economics is moving to address the broader questions of national and international food, natural resource, environmental and energy policy. Opportunities are to determine how current world food production and marketing systems can be transformed to address the challenges of resource scarcity, energy independence, food security, global warming and nutritional requirements of healthful diets.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Human dimensions of issues such as: * Technical feasibility and economic efficiency of tradeoffs between capital and labor. * Types of commercial infrastructures facilitating more regionalized food systems.
  • Conflicts between food security and liberalized trade
  • National and international issues arising from production of biofuels
  • National and international food policy to promote healthful diets

Critical Hires

  • Natural resource and environmental economics
  • Development economics
  • International economics
  • Econometrics
  • Energy economics
  • Ecological economics (climate change and global warming)
  • Health economics (nutrition, obesity and food safety)

Food Science and Human Nutrition

Research Opportunities

Food Science and Human Nutrition embraces the move to more interdisciplinary, multi-investigator projects that focus on greater integration of strengths in both food and nutritional sciences. Research through the various centers - nutritional sciences, juice and beverage, food distribution and retailing, and emerging pathogens - will become increasingly important in the future.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Aquatic food products
  • Food microbiology and safety
  • Food processing engineering
  • Functional foods and bioactive ingredients
  • Micronutrient research
  • Obesity and metabolic syndrome

Critical Hires

  • Food microbiology
  • Obesity and diabetes
  • Functional foods and bioactive ingredients
  • Probiotics

Ft. Lauderdale REC

Research Opportunities

Research is aimed at protecting the environment of south Florida by developing technologies for sustainable maintenance and management of landscapes and reducing the impact of invasive animals and plants on the area's natural and urban habitats. An important overall question is: How will climate change affect these landscapes and their management?

Core Programs of the Future

  • Impact of climate change on sustainability
  • Spatial ecology and 3-D modeling
  • Insect and nematode molecular physiology and genomics
  • Invasive ecology
  • Phycology
  • Weed science of aquatic and wetland habitats

Critical Hires

  • Spatial ecology
  • Insect and nematode molecular physiology and genomics
  • Vector entomology
  • Invasive ecology
  • Phycology
  • Weed science

Gulf Coast REC - Balm

Research Opportunities

The Gulf Coast REC will develop and disseminate new scientific knowledge and technology for commercial agriculture that will assist Florida's producers to be competitive both nationally and in the world economy. Key elements of the Center's research mission are: to develop sustainable, low-input horticultural crop production and pest management systems; to assist conservation efforts by discovering strategies to mitigate the impacts of agriculture and urban development; to improve genetics of commercially important horticultural crops; and to develop new methods for the sustainable management of urban landscapes.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Commercial-scale organic production
  • Variety trials and variety-specific cultural manipulations
  • Double-cropping systems
  • Cucurbit crops
  • Best management practices
  • Urban landscapes and how management practices impact water quality
  • Use of native plants
  • Emerging contaminants impacting surface and groundwater resources
  • Landscape structure and dynamics related to urbanization

Critical Hires

  • Vegetable entomology
  • Agricultural economics

Horticultural Sciences

Research Opportunities

Faculty programs focus on applied and basic research areas. The integration of these programs is essential to develop practical solutions for Florida's fruit and vegetable growers to remain competitive and in balance with Florida's increasingly urban environments.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Adding value to products for clientele to remain competitive
  • Integration of organic, nutritional and genetics areas
  • Greater interface between traditional breeding and molecular/genomics
  • Improved food quality, especially flavor
  • Increased sustainability - increased production with less land, chemical inputs, energy consumption
  • Methods to improve production efficiency and to increase sales of local produce
  • Increased emphasis on mechanization due to loss of migrant labor
  • Increasing understanding of fundamental plant biology as a foundation to sustainability and production
  • Health-promoting foods - produce with increased concentrations of specific nutrients

Critical Hires

  • Weed science
  • Plant nutrient management
  • Computational biology
  • Plant cell biology and biochemistry
  • Protected agriculture physiology and management

Indian River REC - Ft. Pierce

Research Opportunities

Indian River REC's research addresses both sustainable agriculture and sustainable urban development and their interactions with the environment. Research directions include strong programs in best management practices (BMPs), water quality, biological control of invasive species, landscaping and alternative crops (such as in aquaculture).

Core Programs of the Future

  • Citrus canker and greening - genetics and grove architecture
  • Biological control of invasive plants and insects
  • Specialty crops and high value-added production horticultural products
  • Farm-to-fork production systems for alternative crops
  • Environmental quality and restoration of wetlands and estuaries
  • Biofuel feedstocks
  • Alternative agricultural systems (aquaculture, energy crops)
  • Interaction of sustainable agriculture and environmental quality

Critical Hires

  • Citrus horticulture
  • Soil and water science
  • Plant pathology
  • Economic entomology
  • Environmental ecology
  • Agricultural economics
  • Invasive plant ecology

Microbiology and Cell Science

Research Opportunities

The expanding capabilities of technology will enable future biologists to address increasingly complex questions involving whole cells, communities of cells or ecosystems. Trends in the field include: increasing emphasis on emerging infectious animal and plant diseases; greater appreciation of the contributions of commensal microbial communities to host organisms; synthetic biology and metabolic engineering; and better understanding of the contribution of microbes to global geochemical processes.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Bioinformatics and computational biology
  • Microbial and cellular physiology
  • Microbe interactions

Critical Hires

  • Computational biology
  • Microbe interactions
  • Archaea physiology and metabolomics
  • Systems biology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Extremophiles
  • Structural biology

Mid-Florida REC - Apopka

Research Opportunities

The Mid-Florida REC will need to expand to meet the needs of the increasing urban population and infrastructure. Sustainability is a growing trend in the green industries, and an area in which the center can develop to bridge the gap between current research efforts and future needs in horticultural plant development, production and protection.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Soil nutrient management and water quality
  • Emerging pathogens in sustainable production systems
  • Biological control of nematodes in the urban landscape
  • Pest management in the urban landscape
  • Breeding of plants for sustainable landscapes

Critical Hires

  • Landscape nematology
  • Plant pathology
  • Environmental horticulture
  • Molecular genetics
  • Plant physiology
  • Urban entomology
  • Urban soil science
  • Plant breeding of ornamentals

North Florida REC - Quincy/Marianna/Live Oak

Research Opportunities

North Florida REC will continue to serve north and northwest Florida with research into better methods for management and marketing of specialty crops; landscape management in an era of increasing urbanization; integrated pest management of current and emerging crops; and carbon sequestration as an ecosystem service.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Plant pathology and entomology on new and traditional crops
  • Environmental horticulture
  • Horticulture of vegetables and specialty crops
  • Rural development
  • Integrated land management for agriculture, forestry, urbanization
  • Biofuels and bioenergy
  • Landscape analysis of management effects on water quality, etc.
  • Cattle nutrition

Critical Hires

  • Rural development economics and/or bioeconomics
  • Beef cattle nutrition and forage utilization
  • Biofuel engineering
  • Pathology of vegetable and specialty crops
  • Plant physiology of nursery, landscape and agricultural crops
  • Nursery crop production systems
  • Environmental economics

Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology (PMCB)

Research Opportunities

PMCB is well aligned with the global movement to biobased economies to ensure food and energy security, mitigate impacts of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, enhance renewable chemical feedstocks for diverse end uses, and enhance crop quality and yield.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Computational biology.
  • Systems biology.
  • Biochemistry.
  • Genomics and breeding.

Critical Hires

  • Computational biology - bioinformatic approaches to discovery.
  • Systems biology - integration of diverse data types at multiple scales.
  • Biochemistry - including structural biology.
  • Directed evolution - theory and genomics of plant domestication.

Plant Pathology

Research Opportunities

Plant pathology has responded to globalization and its resultant influx of exotic pathogens, emergence of new pathogens and reemergence of known pathogens due to increasing agricultural trade. Plant pathosystems will increasingly be used as models for studying human and animal diseases because the core of plant pathology is the study of the biology of entities/organisms that possess the ability to influence the host cell. Mycological expertise (both organismal and molecular) is insufficient in Florida as well as nationwide.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Mycology
  • Fungal plant pathology
  • Host-pathogen interactions with a focus on plant immunity and plant signaling
  • Molecular biology of plant viruses
  • Aerobiology and global movement of plant pathogens

Critical Hires

  • Systematics and evolutionary mycology
  • Molecular genetics of plant innate immunity
  • Fungal plant pathology - mycology of vegetables and ornamentals
  • Molecular plant-virus interactions

Range Cattle REC - Ona

Research Opportunities

The Range Cattle REC is directing research to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities, among them increasing costs of fertilizers and fuel; loss of grazing land to urbanization; and the environmental impacts and ecological benefits of forage-based animal production. In addition to maximizing production, our research efforts in forage and beef production will focus on environmentally sustainable beef production practices, rapid detection of invasive plants and ecosystem services.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Soil and water management
  • Weed control and management
  • Grazing land management
  • Biomass production
  • Wildlife habitat and ecology

Critical Hires

  • Beef nutrition and management
  • Forage agronomy
  • Range ecology and wildlife habitat
  • Watershed biogeochemistry

School of Forest Resources and Conservation

Research Opportunities

Research programs focus on forest resources, fisheries and aquatic sciences, and geospatial sciences with the goal of wise production, management and conservation of natural resources. The School of Forest Resources and Conservation's research direction will take us into increasingly multi-disciplinary realms - spanning the terrestrial and freshwater to coastal ocean continuum - to better understand, optimize and communicate the wholesystem impacts of natural and human activities.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Natural resource policy and economics
  • Integrative fisheries sciences
  • Quantitative biology especially in bioenergy, climate change, and full cost accounting and life cycle analyses
  • Integrative resource modeling across scales and disciplines
  • Human dimensions including conflict resolution, social marketing and social justice

Critical Hires

  • Natural resource policy and economics
  • Integrative fisheries sciences
  • Quantitative biology
  • Integrative systems modeling
  • Human dimensions
  • Forest entomology
  • Aquatic and hydrographic geomatics

Soil and Water Science

Research Opportunities

Soil and Water Science's direction will address critical soil, water and environmental issues related to water quality; water conservation; soil quality; carbon sequestration; greenhouse gas emissions; emerging contaminants, waste management as related to environmental health; and sustainable production of food, fiber and fuel. The core programs will address issues in a range of ecosystems including: agricultural, forested, range land, urban, wetlands and aquatic systems.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Nutrient, pesticides, and water management
  • Remediation and restoration of contaminated soils and waters
  • Carbon management and ecosystem services and carbon sequestration
  • Wetlands and aquatic systems
  • Modeling and landscape analysis ? integration of environmental information across scales

Critical Hires

  • Landscape biogeochemistry
  • Environmental toxicology
  • Environmental informatics
  • Vadose zone hydrology and soil physics
  • Aquatic biogeochemistry
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Soil quality management
  • Soil microbiology (mycology)
  • Waste management

Southwest Florida REC - Immokalee

Research Opportunities

The Southwest Florida REC will address agro-ecology issues that arise from the complex interplay among agricultural, urban and natural systems with goals of sustaining a profitable agricultural industry, vital environmental services and quality of life in southwest Florida. Major research opportunities are in areas such as water, pests and diseases of citrus, and new technologies that more efficiently allocate resources such as water and nutrients.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Maximizing sustainability in production agriculture
  • Alternate crops and enhanced uses of land - biofuels and ecosystem services
  • Sustainable pest management systems utilizing biological control
  • New technologies and new crops
  • Water quality, quantity and conservation

Critical Hires

  • Geospatial analysis
  • Plant pathology for vegetables and citrus
  • Natural resource economics
  • Food science and food safety

Statistics

Research Opportunities

The major trends in statistics are in Bayesian statistical methods, methods for large datasets and computationally intensive analyses, spatial-temporal modeling, statistical genetics and modeling of non-standard data.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Computationally intensive methods
  • Analysis or mining of massive datasets
  • Statistical genetics
  • Spatial-temporal modeling
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Bioinformatics
  • Generalized linear mixed models
  • Bayesian statistics
  • Semi-parametric methods
  • Model diagnostics
  • Stochastic processes and models
  • Nonlinear modeling

Critical Hires

  • Quantitative genetics and bioinformatics
  • Bayesian inference modeling
  • Statistical methodologies for social and human dimensions
  • Multivariate methods to model multiple responses simultaneously

Tropical REC - Homestead

Research Opportunities

The unique tropical/subtropical setting of the Tropical REC and the accompanying ecological restoration and conservation efforts in the Everglades set the center's research direction. Developing sustainable production and landscape systems for tropical ornamentals and fruit and vegetable crops, as well as addressing the natural resource challenges such as water quality, invasive species and salt water intrusion are critical focus areas.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Tropical/subtropical ornamentals: * Biotechnology and breeding * Sustainable mechanized production systems * Sustainable landscape management
  • Tropical/subtropical fruit crops
  • Natural resources, especially water and soil quality
  • Traditional and tropical vegetable crops * Biotechnology and breeding * Sustainable pest and disease management systems * Soil disinfestations technologies in urban areas

Critical Hires

  • Biotechnology for plant breeding
  • Vegetable crop horticulture
  • Whole plant physiology
  • Cross commodity horticulture
  • Postharvest physiology
  • Agricultural engineering for ornamental crop production

West Florida REC - Milton/Jay

Research Opportunities

The West Florida REC's focus will be on the innovation and discovery of new science through the integration of agricultural systems, natural resources, and human dimensions.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Integrated cropping systems
  • Watershed ecology/terrestrial aquatic ecology
  • Pest management for ornamentals, turf and forestry
  • Coastal wildlife ecology
  • Agricultural and biological engineering

Critical Hires

  • Integrated cropping systems
  • Watershed ecology/terrestrial aquatic ecology
  • Agricultural and biological engineering
  • Pest management for ornamentals, turf and forestry
  • Coastal wildlife ecology

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Research Opportunities

The biology and ecology of wildlife species and their habitats are impacted by expansion of human populations, changes in global climate and land use, and interactions with invasive species and emerging pathogens. Wildlife Ecology and Conservation plans to build on our current strengths and to refocus efforts and programs to more fully address these issues.

Core Programs of the Future

  • Wetland ecology.
  • Conservation biology.
  • Human dimensions.
  • Sustainable use and management of natural resources.
  • International wildlife conservation and ecology.
  • Impacts of global change on conservation and management of natural resources.
  • Protected area management.

Critical Hires

  • Global change.
  • Ecology of human-dominated landscapes.
  • Wildlife policy, planning and economics.
  • International wildlife ecology.
  • Wildlife infectious diseases.