If you are a UF student looking for an opportunity to volunteer in support of a UF/IFAS research project, you can browse the open opportunities below or use the comprehensive search field. If you find a project of interest, contact the researcher for further details. This site is being launched May 2017 and will remain open and updated as research projects are submitted and approved.

If you are a UF/IFAS researcher looking for student help, please click here to submit a project.

Dr. Albrecht (Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee) - Alternative management strategies to improve su...

Researcher Name:

Ute Albrecht

Researcher Email:

ualbrecht@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Alternative management strategies to improve sustainability of citrus production

Project Focus Area:

Horticultural Sciences

Project Location:

Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee

Project Description:

Huanglongbing (HLB) is a devastating bacterial disease of citrus which affects citrus production in Florida and other citrus production areas worldwide. The plant physiology program at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in Immokalee investigates alternative practices to improve root health of citrus trees using sustainable and environmentally friendly approaches. These approaches include the use of different types of soil amendments or “biostimulants” such as beneficial soil bacteria and fungi, humic substances, and seaweed. The program seeks to study the effects of these amendments on plant growth and tolerance to disease and other unfavorable conditions and to explore the underlying physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying these effects. For this purpose field trials in Southwest Florida have been initiated in collaboration with commercial citrus growers. The trials are located near the research center and provide an ideal opportunity to learn about citrus production and the challenges associated with it under the current conditions of high HLB pressure. Additional greenhouse experiments will be conducted to complement the studies in the field, and to compare the effects of soil amendments under disease-free growing conditions.

Intern Duties:

The project will involve the evaluation of citrus trees under greenhouse and field conditions in combination with different laboratory procedures. Greenhouse studies will involve the planning and setting up of experiments and application of the different soil amendments. Field and greenhouse evaluations include plant growth measurements, disease ratings, and leaf and root sample collection. Laboratory procedures include tissue sample processing, root physiology measurements using conductivity meter and spectrophotometry, DNA and RNA extraction, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis to measure pathogen levels and expression of stress-related genes, as well as data entry and analysis.

Dr. Bahder (Fort Lauderdale REC / Fort Lauderdale) - Identification and Classification of Phytoplasm...

Researcher Name:

Brian Bahder

Researcher Email:

bbahder@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Fort Lauderdale REC / Fort Lauderdale

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Identification and Classification of Phytoplasmas Infecting Palms and Insect Vectors in Florida

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Fort Lauderdale REC / Fort Lauderdale

Project Description:

This research focuses on the epidemiology of phytoplasmas that cause lethal decline in Florida palms. Both LY and TPPD are devastating diseases to a wide variety of palms in Florida. The main focus of the research is to identify vectors of these phytoplasmas and understand their ecology so that management strategies can be developed to reduce or stop the spread of these diseases in Florida.

Intern Duties:

Duties will include collecting insects in infected areas, extracting DNA, testing insect and plant tissue for the presence of phytoplasma, and conducting transmission bioassays to evaluate vector competency.

Dr. Baldwin (Gainesville Campus) - Hairstreak Butterfly Behavior in response to a ...

Researcher Name:

Rebecca Baldwin

Researcher Email:

baldwinr@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

Lisa Taylor

Project Title:

Hairstreak Butterfly Behavior in response to a predator

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

The gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae), is a relatively common butterfly species in Florida. This butterfly exhibits patterning in its hind wings and projections that are thought to resemble eyes and antennae, and may act as a decoy for visual predators (Sourakov 2013). These butterflies exhibit behaviors such as moving their wings slightly up and down, and changing their plane of feeding. These behaviors may function as predator confusion strategies (Sourakov 2013). However, little is known about how effective this morphology and behavior is at misguiding visual predators. This project aims at experimentally testing the role of ‘hind-wing projections’ to predation avoidance by jumping spiders. Butterfly behavior will be recorded with and without predators present to examine behavioral changes.. Three experimental treatments of butterflies will be replicated (n=20). (A: with hind-wing projections removed, B: with hind-wing projections intact C: with hind-wing projects removed, and glued back on (Control)). Slow motion videos will be taken to determine the point of attack of jumping spiders on hairstreak butterflies. This project will provide a valuable opportunity for the student to develop an experimental design, learn how to record, analyze and interpret complex data and carry out a cohesive study to completion.

Intern Duties:

The student will participate in the field collection of adult hairstreak butterflies as well as jumping spiders for the first two weeks of the internship. The student will be responsible for the care of the animals during the research period. Under direction, the student will excise the wing projections from the experimental treatment and control treatments. The student will test a variety of experimental arenas and select one for the behavioral trials. The student will analyze the video footage of the insect behavior and report the findings in a paper or poster.

Dr. Batuman (Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee) - Research towards improved understanding of citr...

Researcher Name:

Ozgur Batuman

Researcher Email:

obatuman@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Research towards improved understanding of citrus diseases and their biology and epidemiology and developing effective control strategies

Project Focus Area:

Plant Pathology

Project Location:

Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee

Project Description:

The citrus is a $10 billion industry in Florida alone, and industry is constantly being challenged by number of economically important diseases including citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) disease associated with ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’, citrus canker (Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri), citrus black spot (Phyllosticta citricarpa), postbloom fruit drop (PFD) caused by Colletotrichum acutatum, Phytophthora foot rot and root rot (Phytophthora nicotianae or P. palmivora), Citrus tristeza virus (CTV), and citrus blight with unknown etiology. Some of these citrus diseases and many others alone or in mixed-infection, can severely and adversely affect production by causing significant reduction in fruit production and quality, and in some cases tree death. The chemical sprays to control citrus diseases and insects is the main method employed by growers. Well-timed use of effective chemical control, fertilizer and other biologicals are considered important aspects of integrated pest management in agricultural production. There is an urgent need to find a sustainable solution to disease threats posed by existing and newly introduced pathogens in citrus through combination of chemical control of vector populations through insecticides, and through pesticides and possibly bactericides to control or suppress these pathogens in area-wide integrated pest management programs.

Intern Duties:

The general goal of this study is screening and development of a pesticide, bactericide or other potential curative products including but not limited to natural and synthetic materials, antibiotics, systemic acquired resistance (SAR) inducers, plant growth regulators and biostimulants that can potentially be used for control or mitigation of citrus diseases in Florida. Intern/Volunteer will be trained and later be involved in greenhouse, field and laboratory experiments. Greenhouse trials will be performed to assess the efficacy of cultural practices, chemical and biological applications for the control of diseases in citrus seedlings and different citrus scion/rootstock combinations under controlled conditions. Field trials will be conducted at the commercial citrus groves to evaluate feasibility and efficacy of these applications for the control of pathogens in citrus plants at different age or growing conditions. Pathogen incidence, disease symptoms, tree health and control efficacy will be regularly monitored and documented with standard laboratory procedures. The pathogen detection in plant and vector samples will be determined before, during and after treatments by standard cultural and/or molecular laboratory techniques (e.g., pathogen isolation, serological tests and/or PCR-based detection etc.).

Dr. Bohlman (Gainesville Campus) - Using remote sensing to determine patterns of s...

Researcher Name:

Stephanie Bohlman

Researcher Email:

sbohlman@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Using remote sensing to determine patterns of species, invasive grasses and tree growth in forest and savannah ecosystems

Project Focus Area:

Forest Resources and Conservation

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

The Bohlman forest ecology lab uses a variety of research methods, including field work and remote sensing from hand-held instruments, drones, airplanes and satellites, to examine forest and savannah ecosystems. The research intern would help with these three projects: detecting tree growth variation across NEON sites (http://www.neonscience.org/), including UF’s Ordway-Swisher Biological Station (http://www.osbs.ufl.edu/) quantifying the invasive species cogongrass and its impact of fire fuel loads at an experimental site on campus (http://www.florylab.com/field-lab/) and mapping canopy and understory species at the Ordway Swisher.

Intern Duties:

The research intern would learn not only about the science behind these projects, but also learn valuable field and lab skills, including how to measure tree ring sizes from tree cores using computer equipment, quantifying plant cover in the field, measuring plant water content and plant biomass, taking remote sensing spectral measurements of vegetation, and advanced GPS/image-based mapping of plant locations. More information can be found on the Bohlman forest landscapes website (landscapeforestecology.org). Students that have taken courses in ecology, plant biology, and plant identification, geospatial skills and/or GIS, and with an interest in learning computer skills are especially encouraged to apply. Dates during the summer are flexible.

Dr. Chase (Other) - Sustainable Organic Strawberry (SOS) Cropping S...

Researcher Name:

Carlene Chase

Researcher Email:

cachase@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

Lisa Taylor, Preeti Ahuja

Project Title:

Sustainable Organic Strawberry (SOS) Cropping Systems for the Southeast

Project Focus Area:

Horticultural Sciences

Project Location:

Other

Project Description:

The long-term goal of the project is to promote the expansion of organic strawberry production in the Southeast. We propose to develop organic strawberry cropping systems that are more environmentally and economically sustainable and resilient to weed, pest, and disease pressure. The project has three major components: biological research, consumer and economic research, and evaluation and outreach. The main experiment examines the effects of three cover crop treatments and a weedy control on soil health, nematode suppression, arthropod pests, beneficials, and the performance of four strawberry cultivars in open-field production. Four supporting or satellite experiments examine specific aspects of nutrient management incorporating nitrogen contribution from cover crops and supplemental fertilization, efficacy of OMRI-approved materials for management of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) and twospotted spider mite (TSSM), and spot treatment with predatory mites for TSSM, and performance of cultivars in high and low tunnels for cold protection outside sub-tropical Florida. We include two tests of consumer preference for intrinsic and extrinsic traits of organic strawberry, including traits based on production practices and we will develop partial budgets for experimental treatments in the main and supporting experiments. Extension activities include field days, trainings, and workshops.

Intern Duties:

Strawberry is very susceptible to the plant parasitic sting nematode (Belonolaimus longicaudatus). The sting nematode has a wide host range and thus many weeds that occur when strawberry fields are fallow can serve as alternative hosts. Organic strawberry growers cannot use the soil fumigants that are routinely employed in conventional strawberry production for soilborne pest and disease management. Therefore, identifying effective nonchemical approaches will be critical to foster the expansion of organic strawberry production. The intern will participate in field studies aimed at evaluating the effect of monocultures and mixtures of cover crops on weed and sting nematode infestations. This will involve collecting soil samples to determine sting nematode population density before sowing the cover crops and 9-weeks later just prior to cover crop termination. The intern will also assist with documenting cover crop growth and establishment and with data collection on weed density and biomass. Field activities will occur under hot, humid conditions and will require frequent bending and kneeling to collect soil and plant samples. The intern will use Microsoft Excel for data entry and may undertake some preliminary data analysis using SAS Statistical software.

Dr. Cuda (Gainesville Campus) - Mass rearing of the gall midge Orseolia javanic...

Researcher Name:

James Cuda

Researcher Email:

jcuda@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Mass rearing of the gall midge Orseolia javanica for biological control of the invasive cogongrass

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica (L.) P. Beauv. Poaceae) is an invasive grass that infests cattle pastures, golf courses, lawns, and also thrives in poor soil conditions such as ditch banks, road side and railroad rights-of-way as well as reclaimed phosphate mining areas. Control of cogongrass relies primarily on mowing and chemical herbicides. Biological control using natural enemies from the native range of cogongrass has received little attention. A review of the literature identified an Indonesian gall midge Orseolia javanica Kieffer and van Leeuwen-Reijinvaan (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) as a potential biological control agent. From 2015 to 2016, surveys were conducted at several locations in Central and West Java, Indonesia where O. javanica galls were discovered. Larval feeding induces the formation of linear galls in which one larva develops. Published results of limited host range testing with cultivated and wild rice, corn, sorghum and two other non-cultivated grasses showed midges survived only in cogongrass. Biological control- the introduction of host-specific natural enemies of cogongrass into Florida- can selectively stress/weaken the plants, and thereby provide an environmentally sustainable, cost effective and permanent solution to the cogongrass problem.

Intern Duties:

The proposed research will involve acquiring and propagating different accessions of cogongrass and non-target grasses for establishing a quarantine laboratory colony of O. javanica and host range testing.

Dr. Da Silva (Gainesville Campus) - The role of methionine in macrophage signaling

Researcher Name:

Robin Da Silva

Researcher Email:

robindasilva@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

The role of methionine in macrophage signaling

Project Focus Area:

Human Nutrition

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Methionine is an essential amino acid that is required for growth. The metabolism of methionine yields molecules that are important for immune cell signaling. This project will focus on testing various culture conditions on cytokine production in a macrophage cell line. Timeframe for this project is flexible.

Intern Duties:

The student or students will be introduced to various techniques that may include spectrophotometry, cell culture, aseptic technique, protein analysis, PCR, ELISA, fluorescence microscopy and others. Student(s) will learn proper technique and lab safety. Students will also be responsible for maintaining and cleaning up workspace.

Dr. Freeman (North Florida REC / Marianna, Quincy) - Improving pest managment and productivity in ve...

Researcher Name:

Josh Freeman

Researcher Email:

joshuafr@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

North Florida REC / Marianna, Quincy

Co-Researchers:

Lisa Taylor, Preeti Ahuja, Mathews Paret

Project Title:

Improving pest managment and productivity in vegetable crops

Project Focus Area:

Plant Pathology

Project Location:

North Florida REC / Marianna, Quincy

Project Description:

This announcement is for an internship at the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy, FL. The internship will be with the Vegetable Research and Extension and Plant Pathology Research and Extension laboratories. The intern will be responsible for assisting ongoing projects that focus on improving the management of weeds and soil-borne pests and pathogens in vegetable crops. Pathogens and pests that will be focused on are Fusarium wilt of watermelon, bacterial wilt of tomato, root-knot nematode, and nutsedge species. Other projects include variety evaluation for adaptability, yield, and pest resistance. Most research will be conducted on tomato, watermelon, and melon, all produced utilizing plasticulture production and drip irrigation. The intern will be able to learn plasticulture production and irrigation techniques as well as cropping systems for the previously mentioned crops. Additionally they will learn about diseases common to the cropping systems, including identification and management. Housing is available free of charge at the NFREC.

Intern Duties:

Interns will be responsible for aiding graduate students, faculty, and staff with implementation and evaluation of experiments. These duties may include inoculation of experimental plots, rating experimental plots for disease incidence, evaluating root systems for damage by nematodes and soil-borne pathogens, evaluating experimental treatment effects on fruit yield and quality.

Dr. Gonzalez (Gainesville Campus) - Bio-activation of dietary phytophenols by probi...

Researcher Name:

Claudio Gonzalez

Researcher Email:

cfgonzalez@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Bio-activation of dietary phytophenols by probiotic bacteria minimizes intestinal inflammation.

Project Focus Area:

Microbiology and Cell Science

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Since cells from the gastrointestinal epithelium and antigen presenting cells (pDCs) of the lamina propria are in direct contact with dietary phenolics and the microbiota of the gut lumen, it is proposed to evaluate the synergistic effects of selected phytophenols and probiotics a) in vitro, using pDC and Caco2 cell cultures and b) in vivo using animal models. Furthermore, it is proposed to c) identify dietary phytophenols that bind to the AHR, d) identify microbial enzymes differentially expressed in presence of phytophenols, and e) correlate the microbial enzymatic activities identified in d with phytophenol metabolites detected in the gut lumen. The in vitro assay using cell lines are directed to understand the molecular mechanisms (AHR/IDO) of interaction between probiotics, phenolics, and host responses. In vitro assays will be used to minimize the use of animals and direct the research toward assessing the hypothesis formulated on the basis of our own preliminary data obtained from previous feeding assays. Protein thermo-melting assays, isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) will be used to evaluate the interaction of phytophenols with the PAS-B domain (ligand binding) of the AHR.

Intern Duties:

Learn western blotting techniques, qRT-PCR and sample processing

Dr. Goss (Gainesville Campus) - Investigating cross-kingdom host use by oomycetes

Researcher Name:

Erica Goss

Researcher Email:

emgoss@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Investigating cross-kingdom host use by oomycetes

Project Focus Area:

Plant Pathology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Oomycetes are fungus-like microbial eukaryotes that exhibit a wide range of lifestyles from free-living saprophytes in aquatic and soil environments, to above ground endophytes, to pathogens of plants, fungi, invertebrates and vertebrates. The best-known oomycetes are the Phytophthora plant pathogens that cause some of the most destructive diseases affecting both agricultural crops and native ecosystems. Pythium is an ecologically diverse genus of oomycetes with species that occupy terrestrial ecosystems to salt water estuaries. In Florida, Pythium are ubiquitous, affecting most crops when soil becomes saturated, and have been called the common cold of plant production. Most Phytophthora and Pythium species are easily grown in culture, and have the potential to be valuable experimental systems for studying parasitic and saprotrophic lifestyles. Saprophytic or parasitic associations with a variety of hosts are likely to be important for survival, population growth, and transmission in the environment. We hypothesize that cross-kingdom host use may be occurring in soil-borne oomycetes, which may infect plants but also use invertebrate hosts during their life cycles. We are using the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station to study the lifestyles of oomycetes in natural ecosystems.

Intern Duties:

The intern will assist with field sampling (1-3 days) and resulting lab work. Much of the duties will involve isolating and culturing oomycetes from field samples using sterile technique. The intern will learn to make microbiological growth media, isolate oomycetes on selective media, and propagate and store cultures. They may also have the opportunity to conduct associated molecular and/or experimental work with recovered isolates.

Dr. Grabau (Gainesville Campus) - Evaluating an alternative crop rotation for man...

Researcher Name:

Zane Grabau

Researcher Email:

zgrabau@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Evaluating an alternative crop rotation for management of plant-parasitic nematodes

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Over a number of years, researchers at UF have developed and tested a unique sod-based crop rotation that incorporates pasture bahiagrass into the traditional peanut-cotton rotation. This sod-based rotation benefits crop productivity, soil nutrient levels, and water flux. The platform for this project is a unique, long-term research site at the North Florida Research and Education Center where all crop phases of these two rotations can be compared. This project will analyze how these rotations impact soil-borne nematodes, which are influential in Florida crop production and soil ecology, at different depths—down to 4 feet—in the soil profile. Plant-parasitic nematodes can substantially suppress yield of Florida crops while non-parasitic nematodes can contribute to essential soil ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling and pathogen reduction. Growers manage plant-parasitic nematodes by choosing production practices—such as crop rotationthat minimize nematode densities. Recent research has shown that plant-parasitic nematodes can reside multiple feet deep in the soil profile. In contrast, relatively little is known about non-parasitic nematodes and similar organisms below the plow layer. Crop roots can penetrate multiple feet into the soil profile, so rotation is one of the few practices that may affect nematodes deep in the soil profile.

Intern Duties:

The intern will work with a team of researchers on the sod-based rotation project. The intern will gain experience conducting research through involvement in planning to collect, collecting, and analyzing research data. The intern will help prepare for and take deep soil samples using a hydraulic, truck-mounted Geoprobe. Each sampling occasion will involve an overnight trip to the research site in Quincy, Florida. The intern will help process soil samples and extract nematodes from the soil into a clean suspension of water—a process that involves a series of sieving and centrifugation steps. The intern will help catalogue the nematode community at the site by photographing a specimen of each nematode genera at the site, as identified by a trained graduate student, using a camera mounted on a microscope. By photographing nematodes, the intern will learn some nematode morphology and diagnostics. The intern will also help collect other data such as crop stand and help with other research tasks as needed. Applicants should be prepared for manual labor in hot or dusty conditions as required for the data collection process. Necessary training and supervision to complete research tasks will be provided.

Dr. Hackmann (Gainesville Campus) - Unravelling carbohydrate and energy metabolism ...

Researcher Name:

Timothy Hackmann

Researcher Email:

thackmann@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Unravelling carbohydrate and energy metabolism of rumen bacteria

Project Focus Area:

Animal Sciences

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Our lab attempts to improve efficiency of cattle through study of microbes that inhabit the rumen (forestomach) (see hackmannlab.org/). We are looking for a committed undergraduate to use molecular and physiological techniques to identify rumen bacteria that transport glucose and waste energy. Skills learned will include handling of ruminally-cannulated cattle sampling of rumen contents and culture of oxygen-sensitive (anaerobic) bacteria. Exceptional undergraduates have received co-authorship on manuscripts. Project start and end dates are flexible.

Intern Duties:

1) Culture anaerobic bacteria from ruminally-cannulated cows 2) Perform experiments measuring glucose transport and energy waste 3) Organize and clean the lab

Dr. Her (Tropical REC / Homestead) - Characterizing Florida Weather using Big Data a...

Researcher Name:

Young Gu Her

Researcher Email:

yher@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Tropical REC / Homestead

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Characterizing Florida Weather using Big Data and Computational Techniques

Project Focus Area:

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Project Location:

Tropical REC / Homestead

Project Description:

This internship program will quantify the meteorological characteristics of Florida using large weather data compiled from Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) and computational techniques such as programming and parallel computing. Rainfall depth, air and soil temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed and direction will be summarized by FAWN stations and counties, and relationships between weather variables will be explored to derive information that can help improve our understanding on the meteorological mechanism for the spatiotemporal patterns of Florida weather. A student will use spreadsheet software (e.g. Excel) and a programming script (e.g. R) to analyze the data. The instructor will provide data required for the analysis and help a student learn how to handle the data with software and script language. The instructor and student will publish the analysis results in UF-EDIS.

Intern Duties:

(1) Make summary tables of Florida’s weather by FAWN stations and counties (2) Write an EDIS paper about Florida’s weather characterized by FAWN (3) Write R scripts for manipulating and analyzing the weather data

Dr. Hulcr (Gainesville Campus) - Ambrosia beetles and fungi – a comprehensive gl...

Researcher Name:

Jiri Hulcr

Researcher Email:

hulcr@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

Lisa Taylor, Preeti Ahuja, Mathews Paret, Matthew Smith

Project Title:

Ambrosia beetles and fungi – a comprehensive global survey

Project Focus Area:

Plant Pathology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

This project will document the global diversity and population dynamics of ambrosia fungi - the nutritional symbionts of the wood-boring fungus-farming ambrosia beetles. Many species are also becoming invasive phytosanitary threats, increasingly responsible for tree deaths worldwide. Yet fewer than 5% of beetle species have been studied for their fungi. The symbiont community of each ambrosia beetle GENUS (aiming at 215 species) will be characterized. This will enable many tests, such as which beetles carry a single symbiont, which are promiscuous, and which carry tree pathogens. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation, but an extra project for an undergraduate student for the summer was NOT included in the NSF ward budget.

Intern Duties:

- Curate a batch of beetle and fungus samples from Hong Kong, China and Ecuador. - Use a MS Access database for data management. - Culture fungi. - Isolate and sequence DNA from the cultures for fungal identification. - Develop ownership of a particular batch of samples while also working under a postdocs and PIs supervision.

Dr. Huo (Mid-Florida REC / Apopka) - Developing lettuce regeneration and genetic tra...

Researcher Name:

Alfred Huo

Researcher Email:

hhuo@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Mid-Florida REC / Apopka

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Developing lettuce regeneration and genetic transformation through direct somatic embryogenesis for genome editing

Project Focus Area:

Horticultural Sciences

Project Location:

Mid-Florida REC / Apopka

Project Description:

Lettuce is one of the most vegetable crops in United States. Lettuce regeneration via tissue culture is an essential step for genetic transformation for functional analysis and breeding using the advanced biotechnology such as CRISPR/Cas9. Currently, the lettuce regeneration requires callus induction phase, which normally results in higher somatic mutations that may complicate the downstream analysis. Conversely, regeneration via direct somatic embryogenesis without intervening callus phase becomes an increasingly important tool in plant biotechnology. Somatic embryo has some distinct features such as single-cell origin, low frequency of chimeras and uniformly regenerated plants, all of which will simplify the downstream functional analysis. In addition, reports have been demonstrated that gene editing frequency through CRISPR/Cas9 was dramatically improved when an embryo-specific expression promoter was used; therefore establishment of lettuce regeneration through direct somatic embryogenesis will facilitate the application of genome editing in functional analysis of genes as well as lettuce breeding. In this project, we will use four different genotypes of lettuce to test five different culture media for direct somatic embryo induction and plant regeneration. The optimized culture medium will be used for Agrobacterium-mediated lettuce transformation, and the regeneration time and frequency of stable transgenic plants will be compared with ones using transformation/regeneration system with callus induction phase.

Intern Duties:

The highly motivated intern student will be expected to involve in the following activities/trainings: 1) learn and understand how to design and conduct the experiment independently; 2) prepare culture media, sterilize explant, document plant regeneration through imaging; 3) clone gene to make expression construct for bacteria/ agrobacterium and plant transformation; 4) use PCR to genotype transgenic plants; 5) use qRT-PCR to quantify gene expression; 6) participate in lettuce genome-editing project through CRISPR/Cas9; 7) prepare slides for presenting industry visitors

Dr. Jiang (Gainesville Campus) - A chemical strategy for cryoEM studying CFTR st...

Researcher Name:

Qiu-Xing Jiang

Researcher Email:

qxjiang@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

A chemical strategy for cryoEM studying CFTR structure in membra

Project Focus Area:

Microbiology and Cell Science

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

This study will develop a new technology for studying the structure-function of membrane proteins, CFTR as an example. The proteins my lab is working on are all critically important for cell physiology and are closely related to human diseases. The CFTR mutations are responsible for cystic fibrosis. The newly identified ion channel of chromogranin protein is potentially important for the development of neuroendocrine cancers. The IP3Rs are responsible for calcium signaling in a group of different cells and are responsible for different cellular processes. New methods to be developed for structural and functional studies of these membrane proteins will be very important to reveal novel insights on their function.

Intern Duties:

Learning how to biochemically produce proteins for biochemical and biophysical characterization, and learn how to study the cellular function of target protein complexes in culture cells. Learn how to obtain single molecule images for high-resolution cryoEM studies.

Dr. Koehler (Gainesville Campus) - Mosquitocidal chips for control of Zika Vectors

Researcher Name:

Phil Koehler

Researcher Email:

pgk@ufl.edu`

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Mosquitocidal chips for control of Zika Vectors

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

We have invented several types of mosquito larvicidal chips that prevents the emergence of adult mosquitoes (Zika Vectors) from containers. We need to determine the duration of effective activity of the chips when placed in different types of containers that are breeding mosquitoes outdoors. The larvicide is in a polymer formulation that slowly releases an insect growth regulator to affect mosquito larvae. The insect growth regulator has extremely low risk to mammals and is approved by WHO for use in drinking water. The types of containers to be evaluated are tires, clay dishes that are placed under plants, cement vases used in cemeteries. The larvicidal chips have been patented by UF. The purpose of the study is to document the duration and extent of effective mosquito suppression over time.

Intern Duties:

The project will require rearing Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the primary vector of mosquitoes. The intern will have the opportunity to design an experiment to determine the duration and extent of effective mosquito suppression with 4 types of larvicidal chips placed in 4-5 different types of containers. The larvae will be removed from colonies and placed in containers for development. Mortality will be measured. Because the larvicide causes mosquitoes to develop abnormally, the types of abnormalities will be documented

Dr. Lee (Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City) - Identify traits and develop DNA-tests for disea...

Researcher Name:

Seonghee Lee

Researcher Email:

seonghee105@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Identify traits and develop DNA-tests for disease resistance, flavor and fruit

Project Focus Area:

Horticultural Sciences

Project Location:

Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City

Project Description:

The University of Florida (UF) strawberry breeding program has recently been employing molecular marker techniques for genetic studies and new cultivar development for disease resistance through marker assisted selection (MAS). To successfully apply MAS for the disease resistance and flavor, we recently identified several important quantitative trait loci (QTL) conferring resistance to bacterial angular leaf spot, Phytophthora crown and root rot, Colletotrichum crown rot and peach aroma flavor, and have been developing molecular markers for DNA tests. The molecular markers will be tested for UF breeding populations and determined for select efficiency. The selected markers will be used for 2017 marker-assisted seedling selection in strawberry breeding.

Intern Duties:

Experiments will be involved in, - Rapid DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). - Molecular marker development and non-gel based high-throughput DNA genotyping (high resolution melting and probe-based endpoint genotyping). - Automated genotyping and analysis. - Cloning gene and sequencing (PCR product and plasmid DNA).

Dr. Levy (Citrus REC / Lake Alfred) - Psyllid dsRNA feeding

Researcher Name:

Amit Levy

Researcher Email:

amitlevy@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Citrus REC / Lake Alfred

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Psyllid dsRNA feeding

Project Focus Area:

Plant Pathology

Project Location:

Citrus REC / Lake Alfred

Project Description:

Citrus greening is caused by the phloem-restricted bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), and is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) Diaphorina citri. Current management options for greening rely on the application of chemical insecticides but for the most part those strategies are still not effective enough. As an alternative, it may be possible to block the bacteria movement inside the psyllid, but very little is currently known about the bacteria-insect interactions. Transmission rates of CLas probably depends, among others, on the ability of the bacteria to cross the barriers during the transmission pathway especially the gut-hemolymph and the hemolyph-salivary glands barriers, and on the ability of the bacteria to escape the immune system of the insect. We will use double stranded (dsRNA) feeding in order to silence various players in the insect-bacteria interaction by RNAi. dsRNA will first be generated to specifically target potential ACP genes that might have a role in CLas accumulation or transmission. dsRNA will be delivered into the insect by feeding, and total RNA and DNA will be extracted from the psyllids in order the verify the silencing and to detect CLas by PCRs. As time permits, bacteria accumulation and transmission will also be evaluated.

Intern Duties:

Intern duties: 1. Collect Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) Diaphorina citri adult and nymphs. 2. Feed ACP insects with dsRNA 3. Extract DNA and maybe RNA from ACP adults and nymphs 4. Run PCRs in order to detect Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) and target genes.

Dr. Lusk (Other) - Long-term effectiveness of homeowner irrigation...

Researcher Name:

Dr Mary Lusk

Researcher Email:

mary.lusk@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Long-term effectiveness of homeowner irrigation audits in shaping residential water use

Project Focus Area:

Soil and Water Science

Project Location:

Other

Project Description:

This project will investigate the long-term effectiveness of a UF/IFAS Extension program that educates homeowners about the proper use of their lawn irrigation system. We want to see if Extension clients who have had a home irrigation audit actually implement water-saving changes 1 year, 3 years, 5+ years after they receive the education. Residential water use has been shown to not always respond to increases in water price; in other words, there is evidence that residential water users don't necessarily reduce their water consumption if the utility increases the water price. However, we do have evidence that non-price policies like education campaigns can be effective in reducing water consumption for the short term. This project investigates if that holds true for the long-term as well and will seek to collect data about the water usage patterns of residential water customers 1, 3, and 5+ years after they have received water education from a UF/IFAS Extension water conservation program.

Intern Duties:

Intern may work mostly from home but will have occasional trips to Hillsborough and/or Manatee County. Intern will work with county utility offices to collect data about water usage by clients of UF/IFAS Extension programs. Will be responsible for compiling and organizing data and developing basic tables/graphs to display data trends. Additional duties may include conducting face-to-face interviews with UF/IFAS Extension clients and recording interview responses. Exceptional candidates may have the opportunity to be a co-author on a journal article if the data warrants it. Intern may start at any time, and work will likely take about 3-4 months to complete, about 10-20 hours per week, or less.

Dr. Miller (Mid-Florida REC / Apopka) - Investigating the Heritability of a Survival Be...

Researcher Name:

Christine Miller

Researcher Email:

cwmiller@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Investigating the Heritability of a Survival Behavior

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Mid-Florida REC / Apopka

Project Description:

The ability to self-induce limb loss (termed autotomy) has been observed in hundreds of species across the animal kingdom scorpions can drop their tails, crickets can release their legs, and crabs can drop their claws. These repeated evolutionary origins suggest that autotomy is adaptive. Yet, fundamental questions of how this extreme trait evolves remain unanswered. Understanding autotomy, and the genetic and environmental basis to the ability to drop limbs will help us understand its evolution as well as develop novel pest management strategies. This work will focus on a model species, the true-bug Narnia femorata.

Intern Duties:

The research assistant, once trained, will help lead a heritability study using the true-bug Narnia femorata. Day-to-day activities will include conducting behavioral trials, rearing insects, and data-entry. Additionally, the student will have the opportunity to make field observations and collections. At the end of the summer the student will also have the opportunity to present their work to scientific and non-scientific audiences. Students can expect to gain project management experience, scientific communication skills, and entomological knowledge. The intern will work most closely with Zach Emberts. Zach is a 3rd year PhD candidate who has previously mentored several undergraduate students. Many of these students have gone on to co-author manuscripts and present their work at international, regional, and local scientific conferences. Additionally, in an effort to communicate science to the public, several of these students have also produced non-technical videos of their work.

Dr. Mulvaney (West Florida REC / Jay, Milton) - Precision application for white mold control in...

Researcher Name:

Michael Mulvaney

Researcher Email:

m.mulvaney@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

West Florida REC / Jay, Milton

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Precision application for white mold control in peanut

Project Focus Area:

Agronomy

Project Location:

West Florida REC / Jay, Milton

Project Description:

White mold (Sclerotium rolfsii), also known as southern blight and southern stem blight, is a serious disease affecting peanut (Arachis hypogaea) production in the panhandle of Florida. White mold infects the crown of peanut at the soil-stem interface. The need to apply fungicides at the crown is critical for white mold control. Growers have gone to great lengths to control white mold, including planting twin row peanut (because this spaces out plants within a row and reduces plant-to-plant spread within a row) and spraying fungicides at night (when leaves are folded, which gives better fungicide coverage at the crown) (Prostko, 2014). Some growers have reverted to conventional tillage from conservation tillage to help control white mold and other diseases. Precision application methods are commonly employed in other crops, but has not been utilized in peanut for fungicide application. If directed spray to the target area can be achieved, better control should be observed. If control is adequate, growers may be able to spray at lower volumes for equal control and/or may eliminate the need to spray at night. The objective of this experiment is to evaluate cultural practice strategies for white mold control for commercial peanut production in northwest Florida.

Intern Duties:

The intern will be trained to follow research protocols and collect, process, and manage data. The intern will learn valuable computer skills using Excel. Duties include: • Follow research protocols • Collect field data on peanut diseases • Enter, process, and manage those data in a standardized database • Keep daily records of field activities • Assist in other research projects related to row crop agriculture, which will familiarize the intern with other row crop production systems, such as corn, cotton, carinata, and edamame. • Ask questions whenever uncertainty arises. We will be happy to provide references of former interns should the candidate wish. NOTE: The intern will not conduct any spraying unless certified to do so, and will only enter the field after the appropriate reentry interval has passed.

Dr. Mulvaney (West Florida REC / Jay, Milton) - Expanding tools to reduce nitrogen inputs in co...

Researcher Name:

Micchael Mulvaney

Researcher Email:

m.mulvaney@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

West Florida REC / Jay, Milton

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Expanding tools to reduce nitrogen inputs in corn and cotton in the Western Panhandle

Project Focus Area:

Agronomy

Project Location:

West Florida REC / Jay, Milton

Project Description:

The Cropping Systems Team in Jay, FL runs an applied research program of direct benefit to growers, mainly focused on strategies that optimize nitrogen (N) and other nutrients of agronomically important row crops in the Southeast. Several promising tools exist, one of which is the Cotton N Calculator. Cotton N inputs have been reduced by up to 40% using this tool in other regions. This tool requires the development of a locally-produced algorithm based on Normalized Difference Vegetative Index (NDVI) measurements in the field. We will also develop a similar algorithm for corn production, since corn is a heavy N feeder. Reduced N inputs for row crops means saving money for the producer and reduced N loading into the environment. More information about my program can be found at www.GatorDirt.com.

Intern Duties:

The research intern will collect field data in corn and cotton cropping systems using a hand-held NDVI unit, enter and process data using Excel, and assist with planting, fertilizing, and harvesting corn and cotton. Marketable skills will be acquired, including field crop management, data collection, processing, and analysis, record-keeping, and other skills needed to be competitive for a career in agriculture. The intern will assist with other research involving wheat, carinata, and peanut, have opportunities to obtain a Public Applicator License if desired, and attend grower field days at the WFREC.

Dr. Mylavarapu (Gainesville Campus) - Calibration of Mehlich3 procedure and interpret...

Researcher Name:

Rao Mylavarapu

Researcher Email:

raom@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Calibration of Mehlich3 procedure and interpretations for phosphorus and potassium in acid mineral soils of Florida

Project Focus Area:

Soil and Water Science

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Continuous validation of the predictive and diagnostic analytical methods for assessing the plant essential nutrients is critical for making appropriate nutrient recommendations for agricultural crops for sustainable production and environmental protection. Multilocation field and greenhouse studies are being conducted to validate the current analytical methods, data interpretations and nutrient recommendations for acid mineral soils covering predominant crops in the respective ecosystems of Florida. Vegetable crops will be planted both in the greenhouse and in the field throughout the year at the IFAS PSREU, Citra. Soil, and plant tissue samples will be collected periodically for nutrient analyses to assess the nutrient availability through the season along with the yield data at the end of the season. The samples will be prepared and analyzed on different instruments for different parameters and the data will be analyzed using the appropriate statistical methods. Reports, manuscripts and extension manuscripts will be prepared based on the data analyses and interpretation. Optimized nutrient recommendations to meet the crop nutrient requirements will help attain both agronomic and environmental sustainability.

Intern Duties:

The intern is expected to learn and help with some or all of the project work to include study lay outs and designs, sample collection, samples preparations and laboratory procedures, data analyses and literature reviews. The actual type work primarily depends on the season and the stages of the projects as these studies run through the year. Adequate guidance and supervision will be provided through the interns stay in our program. The interns will have the opportunity to work beyond the summer semester if have the opportunity and the interest. If interested in graduate school, this internship will provide several options and topics to consider.

Dr. O'Neal (Gainesville Campus) - Communities Organizing Prevention, Education an...

Researcher Name:

LaToya O'Neal

Researcher Email:

latoya.oneal@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Communities Organizing Prevention, Education and Empowerment for Well Living (COPE Well)

Project Focus Area:

Family, Youth, and Community Sciences

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Behavioral lifestyle interventions such as the National Diabetes Prevention Program and Diabetes Self-Management Education have been shown to have positive impacts on short-term outcomes. Still, many individuals, especially racial/ethnic minorities, tend to regain weight or not lose as much weight during interventions. The current study seeks to understand social-ecological factors that may contribute to excessive burden when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle post-intervention. The research team will conduct two focus group sessions with program participants at mid-intervention and post-intervention. Focus group sessions will be recorded and transcribed for analysis. Analyses will be completed by the research team.

Intern Duties:

- Literature search and review - Coordinate and co-facilitate focus groups - Transcribe recordings - Analyze qualitative data - Work with PI to disseminate study results (posters, presentations, manuscripts) - Work with PI to develop community action plan

Dr. Pereira (Gainesville Campus) - Effect of adult fly baits on feeding and non-fe...

Researcher Name:

Roberto Pereira

Researcher Email:

rpereira@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

Lisa Taylor, Preeti Ahuja, Mathews Paret, Matthew Smith, Philip Koehler

Project Title:

Effect of adult fly baits on feeding and non-feeding fly larvae

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

The objective of this research is to test sprayable fly baits and other adult fly bait formulations for their collateral effect on the fly larvae. The intern will test different formulations of both commercial and non-commercial formulations of fly baits deposited on surfaces on which fly larvae will crawl. Larvae will be allowed to crawl on the surfaces for either a pre-determined period of time or for a determined space. Fly larvae will them be allowed to continue their development so that lethal or non-lethal effect can be measured. The intern will learn how to rear flies in order to produce the right age of larvae for the experiments, techniques to manipulate these insects, and experimental techniques to be used in entomological research. Also, intern will learn how to prepare and apply insecticidal formulations to be used in the experiments. Bait applications will also be put through a process on natural and/or accelerated aging in order to determine longevity of the pesticide applications and any changes that occur. Depending on time and development in the laboratory, field tests may be conducted with selected formulations.

Intern Duties:

Insect rearing, experimental setup, data collection and manipulation. Assist with other experiments and activities in the lab.

Dr. Qureshi (Indian River REC / Fort Pierce) - Integrated pest management for sustainable crop...

Researcher Name:

Jawwad Qureshi

Researcher Email:

jawwadq@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Indian River REC / Fort Pierce

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Integrated pest management for sustainable crop production

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Indian River REC / Fort Pierce

Project Description:

Entomology program at the University of Florida/IFAS, Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC), Fort Pierce, FL, is focused on developing tools and tactics toward developing integrated and sustainable approaches for pest management in fruit and vegetable production systems. This involves investigations on cultural, biological and chemical methods of pest control through understanding of their biology, behavior and ecology and of their natural enemies (parasitoids, predators, pathogens). Short and long term studies are conducted under laboratory, greenhouse and field conditions. All these variables provide students with broad spectrum of opportunities to learn about basic and applied research in entomology useful toward their future career in continuing toward higher education and job market. These opportunities are available throughout the year.

Intern Duties:

Interns will have the opportunity to work with insect and mite pests of citrus, other fruits and vegetables. Activities may include studying the development and reproductive potential of natural enemies on different pest hosts and artificial diets; investigating the impact of parasitoids, predators and pathogens on pest populations; population dynamics of the pests and their natural enemies in the field under different pest and disease management systems, etc.

Dr. Renkema (Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City) - Survey of invertebrate natural enemy communitie...

Researcher Name:

Justin Renkema

Researcher Email:

justin.renkema@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Survey of invertebrate natural enemy communities and pests in Florida blueberries

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City

Project Description:

Blueberries are an important agricultural commodity in Florida. Developing effective and sustainable pest management tools are critical for the continued success of the blueberry industry. The undergraduate research internship project will focus on: 1) surveying and identifying ground-dwelling natural enemies and 2) assessing impact of and management practices for chilli thrips in blueberries. 1) Invertebrate ground-dwelling predators can be important natural enemies of pests in cropping systems, but little is known about this guild of predators in Florida blueberries. Furthermore, environmental and management factors can have significant impacts on predator abundance and diversity. Through habitat management, methods for conserving naturally occurring predators can be developed and implemented for improved pest control. 2) Chilli thrips is a recent invasive pest of multiple crops in Florida. Blueberry growers are increasingly experiencing high chilli thrips populations and frequently applying insecticides for control. Knowledge about the spatial and temporal distribution of chilli thrips in blueberries and the extent of damage they cause will aid growers in making management decisions.

Intern Duties:

The research intern’s main duties will be specific to the two projects: 1) Natural enemies The intern will join a project on surveying natural enemies. The intern will implement trapping and survey protocols, record environmental and field-management variables, preserve and help identify collected specimens, and analyze data and report preliminary findings. 2) Chilli thrips The intern will work closely with a PhD student to collect blueberry leaf samples and extract and count thrips. The intern will also assist the PhD student in experimental procedures related to determining a threshold for chilli thrips in blueberries. Other duties include occasional assistance with ongoing laboratory and greenhouse research trials, scouting for pests in blueberries and blackberries and general tasks related to laboratory upkeep. The intern can expect to acquire knowledge and skills in insect taxonomy, design of field experiments, analysis of ecological data, and general principles of integrated pest management, particularly as they apply to Florida berry crop production systems.

Dr. Sandoya-Miranda (Everglades REC / Belle Glade) - Lettuce breeding for Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS)

Researcher Name:

German Sandoya-Miranda

Researcher Email:

gsandoyamiranda@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Everglades REC / Belle Glade

Co-Researchers:

Lisa Taylor, Preeti Ahuja, Mathews Paret, Matthew Smith, Philip Koehler, Will Wadlington

Project Title:

Lettuce breeding for Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS)

Project Focus Area:

Plant Science

Project Location:

Everglades REC / Belle Glade

Project Description:

The long-term goal of this project is to assist the improvement of lettuce varieties to be best suited for growing in Florida. Specifically, our research focuses on characterizing the genetics of resistance to Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS) in lettuce. BLS has caused millions of dollars of losses to the growers of the Everglades Agricultural Area and is the most damaging lettuce disease in Florida. The focus of this project is to investigate the inheritance of BLS resistance in the highly-resistant lettuce accession PI 358001-1. Traditional genetics experiments found that the highly resistant character of PI 358001-1 is caused by a single gene. BLS resistance has been mapped to linkage group 2 in a mapping population, but it is 13.5 cM from the closest marker. We are using contemporary Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS) SNP data to fine map BLS resistance. By identifying markers closely linked to the single gene conferring high-resistance, resistance from 358001-1 can be expediently transferred into other cultivars. There is no chemical control available to combat BLS. By identifying naturally occurring genetic loci associated with BLS resistance, we can breed lettuce that is naturally resistant to BLS.

Intern Duties:

The intern will contribute to fine mapping BLS resistance genes in lettuce. Duties will be a mixture of lab, data analysis, and field work. Laboratory work may include basic molecular techniques, such as DNA extraction, PCR, and GBS library construction. Depending on the intern’s interests and background, the intern may preform QTL analysis of SNP or other marker data. Outside of lab, the intern will assist in lettuce cultivation, including planting, watering, disease screening, and making crosses. The field and greenhouse work will occur in hot, humid conditions in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Dr. Sieving (Gainesville Campus) - Bird Language: Avian ecology and bioacoustics

Researcher Name:

Katie Sieving

Researcher Email:

chucao@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Bird Language: Avian ecology and bioacoustics

Project Focus Area:

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

We are investigating causes of vocal complexity in birds in family Paridae (or parids: chickadees and titmice). Fundamental questions in the study of communication relate to signal complexity. Why is there incredible diversity in signal complexity? What factors select for signal complexity? Chickadees and titmice produce vocalizations with tremendous informational encoding capacity (potentially the most of any animal besides humans), and hundreds of species of birds and mammals not only know many of their calls, but use them to better their daily lives. In a large collaborative NSF funded study, we are testing three major causes of parid vocal complexity: (1) social complexity, (2) habitat-related factors, and (3) predation-related factors. The work is significant, because parids - as important providers of useful information - serve as ecological facilitators to many species across the Holarctic region: understanding how parids help other species adapt in a changing world relies, in part, on understanding their language.

Intern Duties:

All interns who wish to work in my lab will be required to attend weekly lab meetings and contribute to discussions with other undergrads, grads and post-docs. Interns will need to choose whether they want to (a) help out with ongoing work as a technician (no thesis needed), or to (2) co-design and complete their own projects based on field data (new or already collected). We currently have terabytes of data awaiting students who wish to design, sample, and analyze and write up theses and author publications.

Dr. Smartt (Florida Medical Entomology Lab / Vero Beach) - Detection of arthropod borne virus in mosquitoe...

Researcher Name:

Chelsea Smartt

Researcher Email:

ctsmart@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Florida Medical Entomology Lab / Vero Beach

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Detection of arthropod borne virus in mosquitoes from Bahia, Brazil virus

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Florida Medical Entomology Lab / Vero Beach

Project Description:

In 2016, members of the Smartt laboratory collected adult mosquitoes in two cities in Bahia, Brazil. Adults were identified and bodies squashed onto FTA cards to preserve, but inactivate, virus RNA. Following RNA extraction and quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRTPCR), the cards from the Peri are of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil contained blood fed Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus female bodies. Screening of the RNA revealed that all blood fed Ae. aegypti female bodies were positive for Zika virus (ZIKV) RNA while 3 out of 5 blood fed female Cx. quinquefasciatus samples were positive for ZIKV RNA. Sequencing of the fragments showed identity to the Asian lineage of ZIKV. To gain a comprehensive picture of the outbreak in Brazil, cards containing mosquitoes collected in different areas of the cities need to be processed.

Intern Duties:

A student volunteer on this project would learn how to extract RNA from the cards containing mosquito collected in other cities in Bahia. The volunteer would then use the extracted RNA and screen for presence of Zika, chikungunya or dengue viruses using RT and qPCR. Positive amplification products would be sequenced to verify their identity. Identification of the blood meal source on the cards may also be performed using qPCR.

Dr. Smith (Gainesville Campus) - DNA barcoding the macrofungi of Ordway-Swisher:...

Researcher Name:

Matthew E. Smith

Researcher Email:

trufflesmith@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

Lisa Taylor, Preeti Ahuja, Mathews Paret, Matthew Smith, Philip Koehler, Will Wadlington, Brantlee Richter

Project Title:

DNA barcoding the macrofungi of Ordway-Swisher: documenting biodiversity and building herbarium resources for the fungi of iconic north Florida ecosystems

Project Focus Area:

Plant Pathology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Abstract Fungi are diverse eukaryotes that play crucial roles in ecosystems but they are often overlooked and remain understudied relative to their diversity and importance. There are currently no data on the fungi of the Ordway-Swisher reserve but our preliminary studies suggest that there are a wide array of plant symbionts, plant pathogens, and decay fungi that require more study. We propose a multi-pronged approach to study fungal diversity that will expand the scope and sustainability of research at OSBS and simultaneously enhance the UF fungal herbarium (FLAS-F). Our project will generate photos, curated specimens, DNA sequences, and collection data that will be publically available via OSBS, the UF fungal herbarium database, iDigBio, and GenBank. This project will generate the first DNA barcode library for fungal specimens of the Gulf Coast region and therefore provide critical data for environmental sampling and fungal systematics studies. This research project is integrated with hands-on learning experiences for undergraduates and grad students from two different UF Plant Pathology courses. Data from this project will be used in ongoing research projects in the Smith Fungal Biology Lab and will be leveraged for several future external grant opportunities in fungal systematics, evolution, and ecology.

Intern Duties:

- Collect fungi at Ordway-Swisher reserve (with members of the Smith Lab) - Catalog and photograph fungi (in Smith Lab on the UF campus) - Edit and organize photos - Curate specimens for accessioning in the FLAS-F fungal herbarium - Perform microscopy to help collaborators to identify fungi - Perform DNA extractions, PCR, and DNA sequencing - Analyze sequence data (sequencing editing and phylogenetic analysis) - Submit sequences to GenBank - Other molecular and morphological analyses of fungi

Dr. Strauss (Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee) - Effects of soil amendments on the soil microbia...

Researcher Name:

Sarah Strauss

Researcher Email:

strauss@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Effects of soil amendments on the soil microbial community composition in commercial citrus groves

Project Focus Area:

Soil and Water Science

Project Location:

Southwest Florida REC / Immokalee

Project Description:

Students will have the opportunity to work with the new Soil Microbiology program at the Southwest Florida REC in one of the key citrus-growing regions of the state. Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening, has resulted in significant citrus tree decline and economic loss in Florida. One of the major impacts of the disease has been the decrease of root growth, which impacts nutrient and water uptake. Changes in the soil microbial community may provide improvements to root growth, and therefore help mitigate losses from HLB-induced tree decline and improve overall productivity of non-affected trees. One of the goals of the research in the Soil Microbiology program at SWFREC is to determine the impacts of soil amendments on the soil microbial community of citrus, and to determine if these impacts correspond to changes in tree health and productivity. Students will have the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of research activities: from spending time in local commercial citrus groves collecting samples, to assisting in characterizing the soil microbial community under different soil amendments using next-generation sequencing. Greenhouse experiments are also being conducted to complement field studies, and provide additional experience in managing greenhouse trials.

Intern Duties:

This position involves field, greenhouse, and lab procedures to examine the soil microbial community of citrus. Greenhouse procedures will include the planning and execution of trials to assess the impact of soil amendments on citrus seedlings. Field procedures will include collecting soil samples. Laboratory procedures will include DNA extraction from soil samples, DNA quantification, and data analysis of next-generation sequencing data.

Dr. V. de Paula Moraes (West Florida REC / Jay, Milton) - Ecology of pests associated with field crops in...

Researcher Name:

Silvana V. de Paula Moraes

Researcher Email:

paula.moraes@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

West Florida REC / Jay, Milton

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Ecology of pests associated with field crops in Florida Panhandle

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

West Florida REC / Jay, Milton

Project Description:

One of the key aspects in the IPM is the host/pest/climate interactions, which affect the vulnerability of the cropping systems. Florida Panhandle is located in an ecological transition zone between temperate and subtropical climates with a mosaic of natural vegetation, forests and field crops, and a unique biodiversity of insects, made up of pollinators, natural enemies and numerous arthropod pests. It is also a potential pathway for invasive pests entering the U.S. While, some technical publications reporting pest and beneficial insects are available for the Southeast, documentation of the presence and interactions of pest and beneficial insect species in field in the unique landscape and climate is lacking. This project has the following objectives: 1) Characterize the bionomics of the pests associated with peanut in laboratory conditions, considering parameters of pest survival, fecundity, and number of generations; 2) Evaluate the seasonal, stage-specific occurrence and abundance (phenology) of the pests associated with sentinel plots of corn, cotton and peanuts ,at WFREC and in commercial fields in Florida Panhandle; The overall goal is to increase the science-based knowledge of the pests and beneficial insects specifically associated with field crops in the Florida Panhandle, and improve the pest management decision-making and efficiency.

Intern Duties:

The student will participate in insect samplings in experimental and commercial fields, implement and evaluate experiments of pest ecology studies, and help to establish and maintenance the insect colony. During the research project the student will learn techniques of pest sampling, insect rearing, experimental design, data analysis and interpretation of the results. The findings will be reported in a poster, and the ultimate goal is to provide students a hands-on experience using the study of the insects as a model for student’s engagement in science, and exploring professional opportunities.

Dr. Vallad (Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City) - Characterization of Corynespora cassiicola: the...

Researcher Name:

Gary Vallad

Researcher Email:

gvallad@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City

Co-Researchers:

Lisa Taylor, Preeti Ahuja, Mathews Paret, Matthew Smith, Philip Koehler, Will Wadlington, Brantlee Richter, Katia Xavier

Project Title:

Characterization of Corynespora cassiicola: the cause of target spot of tomato in Florida

Project Focus Area:

Plant Pathology

Project Location:

Gulf Coast REC / Wimauma, Plant City

Project Description:

Target spot, caused by the fungus Corynespora cassiicola, is a common disease of tomato in Florida that affects all aerial portions of the plant (leaves, stems and fruit) leading to dramatic yield reductions. Growers are reliant on the timely application of fungicides for disease management since no resistance is commercially available to the disease. However, growers have observed a rise in the severity and frequency of target spot outbreaks over the last 3 years, with only limited levels of success managing the disease. There is growing evidence that fungicide resistance is jeopardizing the effectiveness of several classes of fungicides. Outcomes from this proposal will improve our knowledge of fungicide resistance issues throughout the state and identify environmental factors driving target spot epidemics, leading to better management recommendations.

Intern Duties:

Intern will assist with experiments to refine our understanding of C. cassiicola survival in soil and crop residue; and the temperature and moisture requirements that favor spore germination and disease development. Intern will use dried cultures or plant tissues infested with C. cassiicola to measure percent recovery from soil over time. Intern will also test isolates for optimum temperature and moisture requirements for spore germination and for disease development. Findings will lead to improved recommendations for field sanitation, crop-free periods, and crop rotations to destroy C. cassiicola. Better knowledge of conditions necessary for spore germination and disease development will improve recommendations for timing preventive fungicide applications and assist in the development of decision support system models to alert growers when environmental conditions are favorable for target spot.

Dr. Warner (Gainesville Campus) - Factors that Influence Water Conservation Behav...

Researcher Name:

Laura Warner

Researcher Email:

lsanagorski@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Factors that Influence Water Conservation Behaviors

Project Focus Area:

Agricultural Education and Communication

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

In many places in the country, more than half of the potable public water supply is used outside the home, primarily for landscape irrigation. Therefore, people who use residential landscape irrigation make up a critical target audience and water conservation programs that target this audience are an important component of solving this complex problem. Water resources professionals are developing technologies that can substantially reduce the amount of water used for irrigation by one-third to half while maintaining landscape aesthetic quality. To achieve the potential savings, residents need to choose to adopt these technologies. While eliciting behavior change is difficult, it is critical to achieving water conservation. The major goal of this project is to identify factors that lead to behavior change so strategies for outreach programs can be developed.

Intern Duties:

The student will take ownership of a specific research question. Responsibilities may include literature review, data analysis, and research dissemination (poster, conference presentation, journal article).

Dr. Weeks (Gainesville Campus) - Research experiences in medical/veterinary ento...

Researcher Name:

Emma Weeks

Researcher Email:

eniweeks@ufl.edu

Researcher Location:

Gainesville Campus

Co-Researchers:

None Listed

Project Title:

Research experiences in medical/veterinary entomology

Project Focus Area:

Entomology and Nematology

Project Location:

Gainesville Campus

Project Description:

Insects can have a negative impact on humans and other animals due to biting nuisance and/or transmission of pathogens that cause diseases. Integrated pest management (IPM) can enable improved management of pest organisms while decreasing conventional pesticide use. The manipulation of insect behavior using semiochemicals is one potential tool to be used in an IPM program. The research conducted by the PI focuses on behavioral manipulation of ticks, bed bugs, mosquitoes, midges, and muscid flies with management implications.

Intern Duties:

Behavioral assays, laboratory work, field work, general laboratory duties