For UF/IFAS researchers, every day is Earth Day

Published: April 18 2014


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are working to save endangered ecosystems and species, as well as educating the next generation of scientists.

As Earth Day approaches Tuesday, a few highlights of their work:  

Ray Carthy, a courtesy assistant professor in wildlife ecology and conservation, studies the ecology and physiology of marine turtles, which face many threats in the water and on nesting beaches. Those threats include habitat loss and degradation due to climate change and severe weather, predators, dangers from boats and fishing nets, pollution, coastal development and beach renourishment. Ray Carthy, 352-846-0545,

Emilio Bruna, a professor of wildlife ecology and conservation and Latin American studies and director of the Florida-Brazil Linkage Institute, works to conserve tropical biodiversity and train emerging global leaders in conservation science.  His research is conducted in two of the world’s most endangered ecosystems: the Amazon’s rain forests and the Brazilian savannas known as The Cerrado.  He studies how human activities like deforestation influence seed dispersal, pollination and other plant-animal interactions.  Emilio Bruna, 352-846-0634,

Charles Sidman, associate director for research with Florida Sea Grant, is part of a team of scientists taking an international approach to sustaining the state’s recreational fisheries. Because fish can swim to any region without a passport, it’s no surprise that fisheries managers in the Gulf of Mexico and other regions must collaborate. Florida Sea Grant, working with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Ocean Fund and the Dominica Fisheries Division, next month will begin testing artificial lures as an alternative to harvesting live bait, in hopes of increasing local seafood availability and profitability.  Charles Sidman, 352-392-5870,

Dana Bigham, a postdoctoral associate in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, is faculty adviser for the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics Academy (S.T.E.A.M.) club, whose mission is to bring compassionate change to the world by bridging sciences and the arts. They’ll host a Water Challenge from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the UF campus April 22. Volunteers can make paper jewelry beads on the Plaza of the Americas for “Students Rebuild,” an organization that will provide clean water to more than 16, 000 people in Tanzania based on the number of beads received. Dana Bigham, 352-273-3653,


Kimberly Moore Wilmoth,