Center News: Archives

Hayk Khachatryan part of $7 million grant from USDA

CLCE faculty member Hayk Khachatryan, assistant professor and extension economist, is part of two projects recently announced as funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). On Tuesday August 2, 2016, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced this year's Specialty Crop Research and Extension Investments (SCRI) funded projects. The first award is a 5-year project with approximately $7 million in funding; Dr. Khachatryan is one of the Co-PIs. Funding for the project, titled "Protecting Pollinators with Economically Feasible and Environmentally Sound Ornamental Horticulture," will support 21 scientists and extension experts at 12 different institutions. The lead facilitator of the project is the IR-4 Ornamental Horticulture Program at Rutgers University. Dr. Khachatryan is also part of the grant awarded to IR-4 for $50,000 for "Identifying Knowledge Gaps and Novel Management Strategies for Downy Mildews Impacting Environmental Horticulture Crops". Read the full press release from Rutgers.

Michael Dukes receives John Deere Gold Medal award

Michael Dukes, director of the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has been honored with the 2016 John Deere Gold Medal award. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers gives the award to recognize distinguished achievement in the application of science and art to the soil. "It is a great honor to be selected by my peers for this prestigious award," Dukes said. "I look forward to continuing my work in helping create sustainable landscape practices that will impact not only Florida, but the world." Read the full article at UF/IFAS News.

Laura Warner leads study on targeting water conservation campaigns

CLCE faculty member Laura Warner, assistant professor of agricultural education and communication, recently published the results of a study examining audience segmentation as an approach to encouraging water conservation change using current residential landscape practices. The researchers identified three meaningful subgroups among residential landscape irrigation users: the "water considerate" majority, "water savvy" conservationists, and "unconcerned" water users. Their findings suggest that "water considerate" users might be the most appropriate people to target for water conservation campaigns. The paper, titled "Classifying Residents who use Landscape Irrigation: Implications for Encouraging Water Conservation Behavior," was authored by Laura A. Warner, Alexa J. Lamm, Joy N. Rumble, Emmett T. Martin, and Randall Cantrell. It was published in Environmental Management, July 2016. You can read the full story on UF/IFAS News.

Hayk Khachatryan using new technology to study consumer behavior

CLCE faculty member Hayk Khachatryan, assistant professor and extension economist, was recently featured in the Orlando Sentinel for his work with new eye-tracking glasses in studying consumer behavior. The opinion piece was written by Dr. Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at UF/IFAS. "Tracking eye movements helps us get past what consumers say they want and closer to what they actually do," writes Dr Payne. "In his experimental economics lab at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Khachatryan teases out what information on a label is most compelling to the beholder, for example." You can read the full piece online at

Emily Eubanks Recognized with UF Achievement Award

CLCE Information Office Coordinator Emily Eubanks received the Jeffrey A. Gabor Employee Recognition Award. Nearly 300 employees gathered at the J. Wayne Reitz Union's Grand Ballroom on April 14 for the 2016 Superior Accomplishment Awards ceremony. This annual program recognizes staff and faculty members who contribute outstanding and meritorious service, efficiency and/or economy, or to the quality of life for students and employees. Emily has been with the Center since 2006. She has her BS and MS in Agricultural Communications from UF.

Michael Dukes paper on irrigation conservation wins award

CLCE Director Dr. Michael Dukes' paper, "Irrigation Conservation of Florida-Friendly Landscaping Based on Water Billing Data" was recognized by the editor of the Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering. Dr. Dukes, along with coauthors Dr. Linda Young and Shu Wang, have been invited to attend an award luncheon at the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress 2016 in West Palm Beach Florida, during the Irrigation and Drainage Luncheon and Awards Ceremony. The paper has been chosen as the 2016 Honorable Mention Award winner.

Bryan Unruh and Jason Cruse to present at career and training conference

The 31st Annual National Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Career Fair and Training Conference will be held March 30 – April 2, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, FL. CLCE affiliate faculty Dr. Bryan Unruh and Dr. Jason Cruse have organized a tour for the attendees on Thursday morning entitled "Going Green: Mixing Business with Pleasure". Tour attendees will be introduced to the green industry and discover rewarding careers as golf course superintendents; athletic, parks, and recreation facility managers, landscape management contractors, sod producers, and related sales and support. The tour will include stops at a golf course, athletic facilities, and a sod production facility. Dr. Bryan Unruh is a professor and Associate Center Director of the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center and Dr. Jason Cruse is an associate professor with the UF/IFAS Turfgrass, Environmental Horticulture Department.

Two key factors control phosphorus movement from soil to groundwater

CLCE faculty member Gurpal Toor, a UF/IFAS associate professor of soil and water science, has co-authored a new study that shows scientists and regulators should use the phosphorus saturation ratio and their knowledge of water flow paths in soils to predict how much phosphorus may leach from soils. This finding is also key for homeowners and business people, because they can use soil samples to gauge how much phosphorus is in their soil, Toor said. In a newly published study in the Vadoze Zone Journal, Toor examined phosphorus that percolated into soils in Maryland and Delaware. He conducted the study with his former mentor, Tom Sims, a retired associate dean and professor at the University of Delaware. Read the full article on IFAS News.

Chris Marble and Laura Warner Awarded Seed Funding

The IFAS Early Career Scientist Seed Funding program has recognized CLCE faculty members Dr. Chris Marble and Dr. Laura Warner. Dr. Marble is an assistant professor of environmental horticulture at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka. His proposal, "Developing Baseline Data for Herbicide Degradation based on Soilless Substrate Composition, Nutrient Placement and Rate, and Irrigation Regime in Container Nursery Plant Production" was awarded $42,738. Dr. Warner is an assistant professor in agricultural education and communication at the Gainesville campus. Her proposal, "Applying Behavior-Change Tools in a New Context: An Examination of the Impact of Social Marketing Tools on Water Conservation Behaviors," was awarded $49,814.34. The IFAS Dean for Research office, in partnership with the Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Vice President for Research, has once again implemented the funding program to facilitate development of new faculty research, jumpstart their research programs, and to provide a platform for their future success. Out of 23 proposals, 15 were awarded. The scientists will present their preliminary research results at the 2017 IFAS Research Awards Ceremony.

UF/IFAS Extension program in best management practices wins state, national awards

The UF/IFAS Extension and FDEP's Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) program recently won two state awards and one national award for Extension program content and implementation. The program is one of the many ways the CLCE is sharing Florida-Friendly gardening and landscaping information with the citizens and industry of Florida. Read the full article.

Dr. Andrew Koeser Receives Early Career Scientist Award from International Society of Arboriculture

CLCE faculty Dr. Andrew Koeser was recently awarded the International Society of Arboriculture's (ISA) Early Career Scientist Award. This Award of Distinction is given to professionals showing exceptional promise in arboriculture research. Dr. Koeser is an assistant professor of landscape management with the University of Florida's Department of Environmental Horticulture at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma. Read the full article.

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Michael Dukes Selected as Water Institute Fellow

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Mark Clark and Dr. Michael Dukes for being selected as the 2015 Water Institute Faculty Fellows, recognized for their contributions to interdisciplinary water research, extension, and education programs, as well as for providing substantial support to programs of the UF Water Institute. Dr. Dukes and Dr. Clark will be recognized at the Faculty Fellow Awards Celebration, held jointly with the Florida Climate Institute, on October 19, 2015 from 4:30-6:30 at the Keene Faculty Center in Dauer Hall. More...

Gurpal Toor's Study Finds Pharmaceuticals in Florida Waterways

River beds in urban areas worldwide store pharmaceuticals, and University of Florida scientists warn they can pose a potential environmental danger to aquatic organisms. CLCE faculty member Dr. Gurpal Toor, along with Yun-Ya Yang and Clinton Williams, recently published the findings of their study, "Pharmaceuticals and organochlorine pesticides in sediments of an urban river in Florida, USA" in the Journal of Soils and Sediments. Post-doctoral researcher Yun-Ya Yang studied samples collected from the silt in the Alafia River in Hillsborough County and found 17 pharmaceuticals, proving the riverbed to be a good sink for these chemicals. Dr. Toor supervised the study. The scientists say the chemicals in the riverbed in Hillsborough County are representative of chemicals in riverbeds in urban areas globally. Read the full article in Growing Florida.

"The Cost of Not Maintaining Trees" Symposium

In mid-March, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), Florida Urban Forestry Council, and the ISA-Florida Chapter teamed up to host a two-day symposium titled "The Cost of Not Maintaining Trees," held at the University of South Florida's Patel College of Global Sustainability in Tampa, FL. Two CLCE faculty members— Drs. Andrew Koeser and Ed Gilman—were there, presenting on topics related to their expertise. Dr. Gilman gave a presentation on "Structural Pruning Using ANSI Pruning Methods," while Dr. Koeser participated in a breakout session entitled "Total Cost Analysis: From Seedling to Tree and Beyond." More...

Andrew Koeser to Receive the 2015 Alex Laurie Award

CLCE faculty member Dr. Andrew Koeser has been recognized by AmericanHort. His paper, "Biocontainer Use in a Petunia × hybrida Greenhouse Production System: a Cradle-to-gate Carbon Footprint Assessment of Secondary Impacts" has been selected for the 2015 Alex Laurie award.

Dr. Koeser is senior author of the paper, which was published in the March 2014 issue of HortScience. The other authors are Sarah T. Lovell, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign; Aaron C. Petri, Smart Energy Design Assistance Center, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign; Robin G. Brumfield, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Rutgers University; and J. Ryan Stewart, Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, Brigham Young University.

The award is given each year to the authors of the manuscript published the previous year in any of the three ASHS publications that a rotating panel of three industry-based academic professionals feel could have the most significant practical impact on the floriculture industry in the near term. The recognition includes an invitation for the senior author to the 2015 AmericanHort Cultivate'15 Conference to receive the award in person.

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Paul Monaghan Awarded Seed Funding

CLCE faculty member Dr. Paul Monaghan has been awarded $50,000 from this year's IFAS Early Career Scientist Seed Funding program. Dr. Monaghan is an assistant professor of agricultural education and communication, as well as the statewide Extension specialist in Community Based Social Marketing. The IFAS Dean for Research office, in partnership with the Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Vice President for Research, has once again implemented the funding program to facilitate development of new faculty research, jumpstart their research programs, and to provide a platform for their future success. Out of 26 proposals, 17 were awarded, including Dr. Monaghan's "Using Social Marketing Research to Understand the Dissemination of Innovations Promoted by Florida Friendly Landscaping Practices." The scientists will present their preliminary research results at the 2016 IFAS Research Awards Ceremony.

New Mobile App for Florida Gardening

A new Florida gardening app is now available for Android and iPhones. Developed by the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology (CLCE), the Gardening Solutions app helps Florida homeowners stay on top of their lawn and garden maintenance. More...

CLCE Releases 2014 Reports on Consumer Use of Water, Fertilizer

The Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology has released two reports based on consumer surveys and choice experiments, both conducted last year. The first report, "Consumer Lawn Care and Fertilizer Use in the United States 2014," focuses on homeowners' fertilizer use and lawn care practices, and willingness to pay premiums for eco-friendly attributes. The second report, "U.S. Consumer Water and Irrigation Usage 2014," summarizes lawn irrigation practices, including willingness to pay for smart irrigation attributes, likelihood to purchase, and more. Both reports were authored by CLCE faculty member Dr. Hayk Khachatryan, Alicia Rihn, and CLCE Director Dr. Michael Dukes.

Dukes Honored With Excellence in Education Award

The Irrigation Foundation has named CLCE Director Dr. Michael Dukes the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Education Award. Dukes will receive his award in November at the 2014 Irrigation Show & Education Conference in Phoenix. The Excellence in Education Award recognizes a person who is actively teaching irrigation, water management, and/or water conservation in affiliation with a two- or four-year institution. The award honors academics who are playing a critical role in developing educated professionals with the knowledge and skills to create efficient irrigation solutions that will protect water and the environment. Read the full press release at the Irrigation Association's website.

CLCE 2013-14 Annual Report Now Available

The 2013-14 annual report for the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology is now available. It includes information on featured faculty projects, funding, grants, and publications, as well as the Center's Extension efforts, such as new mobile applications and the Gardening Solutions website. Learn more...

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CLCE Research Finds Consumers Will Pay More for Eco-friendly Plants

CLCE faculty member Dr. Hayk Khachatryan recently with UF/IFAS News about the results of his study, "The Effects of Consideration of Future and Immediate Consequences on Willingness to Pay for Eco-Friendly Plant Attributes." Dr. Khachatryan's study found that individuals assigning higher importance to future consequences of their current decisions were willing to pay a price premium for plants grown using sustainable and energy-saving production methods, non-conventional containers such as compostable and plantable, and locally produced plants, and they expected a discount to purchase imported plants. Dr. Khachatryan is assistant professor of food and resource economics at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka. "The Effects of Individual Environmental Concerns and Willingness to Pay for Sustainable Plant Attributes," (PDF) by Ben Campbell of the University of Connecticut, Charles Hall of Texas A&M University, Bridget Behe of Michigan State University, Chengyan Yue of the University of Minnesota, Jennifer Dennis of Purdue University, and Khachatryan, appears in the 2014 Vol. 32; Issue 2 edition of the Journal of Environmental Horticulture. Read more about the study at UF/IFAS News.

Center research used by residents to reduce their landscaping impact on stormwater

The results of an online survey with a master planned community in Manatee County are being used to develop Extension programming to reduce the impact of landscaping on stormwater runoff. A survey conducted by CLCE faculty member Dr. Paul Monaghan and research assistant Emily Ott has been reported back to these Bradenton-area residents and a small group of community stakeholders are helping to decide on a campaign to encourage the use of florida Friendly landscaping practices. Better landscaping practices that reduce nutrient loading at the source and help stormwater ponds function as they were designed should also lead to better pond aesthetics. In July, Emily Ott presented results showing that a significant number fully understood the design and function of the stormwater system (retention, flood control, watershed quality) but a lack of knowledge among a majority of homeowners points to the need for more directed Extension programming. The survey also gauged knowledge of the Manatee County restrictive fertilizer ordinance (which is designed to improve stormwater quality) and results showed there is a need to get more information about it out to homeowners. Reporter Kathryn Moschella covered the task force's meeting and wrote about it for the Bradenton Herald. Read the full story here.

Andrew Koeser awarded federal forestry grants

Center faculty member Dr. Andrew Koeser was recently named as the recipient of two grants from the 2014 USDA Forest Service's National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge. His proposal "Mobile Tree Failure Prediction for Storm Preparation and Response" is a modeling system that will assist urban forest managers in predicting tree failure during storms. He is also part of the University of South Florida's proposal "From Gray to Green: Tools for Transitioning to Vegetation-Based Stormwater Management." Dr. Koeser is an assistant professor of landscape management based at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) in Hillsborough County. Read the full press release on the U.S. Forest Service's website.

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Gail Hansen receives teaching award from NACTA

Assistant professor and CLCE faculty member Gail Hansen was recognized last month for teaching excellence by the North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA). In June, University of Florida IFAS/CALS personnel attended the 59th annual NACTA conference in Blacksburg, VA, where several UF faculty members and graduate students received awards.

The NACTA Teacher Fellow Award recognizes those whose efforts represent the very best in agricultural higher education. It is a criterion-based award, and is reviewed by a committee of NACTA members. Dr. Hansen is an assistant professor who specializes in landscape design. She currently teaches two studio courses in residential landscape design.

Other UF/IFAS instructors recognized: Amr And-Elrahman (School of Forest Resources and Conservation – Plant City Campus), Michael Andreu (School of Forest Resources and Conservation), James Bonczek (Soil and Water Science), Wendy Dahl (Food Science and Human Nutrition), and James Sterns (Food and Resource Economics).

CLCE five-year report now available

A detailed report on the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology is now available. It includes information on featured faculty projects, funding, grants, and publications, as well as the Center's Extension efforts, such as the Master Gardener and Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ programs. Learn more...

CLCE at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The University of Florida was one of twenty universities featured at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festivalthat took place June 27-July 8 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The festival celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, a key piece of legislation signed in 1862 that laid the groundwork for Extension programs like Master Gardeners.

The celebration included the program "Campus and Community: Public and Land-grant Universities and the USDA at 150" which focused on four themes that reflect the current work of public and land-grant universities and the USDA: reinventing agriculture, sustainable solutions, transforming communities, and building on tradition.

Each theme area of the program allowed visitors to interact with university and USDA staff, professors, students, and community members and highlighted exciting research and engagement projects. From Master Gardeners to Hawaiian traditional healing, from managing invasive species to helping communities recover from natural disasters, the program covered an array of ways universities and the USDA put research to action every day.

The Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology focused its programming efforts on efficient irrigation and landscaping techniques. You can learn more at the program's website, Water: Discovering and Sharing Solutions.

The Center was represented by multiple faculty and staff with various specialties including Dr. Michael Dukes (irrigation), Dr. Gail Hansen (landscape design), Erin Alvarez (landscape maintenance), Tom Wichman (Florida Master Gardener Program), Brian Niemann (Florida-Friendly Landscaping program), and Emily Eubanks (CLCE).

For more information on the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival and future festivals, please visit the website at

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Gurpal Toor Talks "Soils in the City" with CSA News

August’s cover story in CSA News highlights the role of soils in urban areas from a range of perspectives and is co-authored by a subset of members of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), including CLCE faculty member Dr. Gurpal Toor. The authors are faculty from universities across the US who are studying different aspects of soils in cities.

An appropriate understanding of soils plays a critical role in urban areas for a range of stakeholders including urban planners, urban residual management, and urban farmers. From a traditional soil science perspective, an understanding of ecosystem processes in urban areas is emerging as a field of study. "Soils in the City" highlights the role of soils in urban areas from this range of perspectives.

CSA News is the official magazine for members of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

Gail Hansen Featured in The Designer Magazine

Dr. Gail Hansen, assistant professor of landscape design, was featured in The Designer, the quarterly magazine of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD).

In the article, "What's in Your Garden?" Dr. Hansen describes the many garden features and planting forms we use today, and explains their historical background. The differences between such familar terms as trellis and pergola are explained, and for unfamilar terms like chadar and runnel as well.

The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), of which Dr. Hansen is a member, is an international organization founded in 1989. Their mission is to advance the profession of landscape design and to promote the recognition of landscape designers as qualified and dedicated professionals.

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