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Volume 19 | Issue 1 | Spring 2019

Myakka (pronounced ‘my-yak-ah’ – Seminole word for “big waters”) gives a special identity to our department, as it is also the name of Florida’s State Soil, Myakka fine sand. The State of Florida has the largest total acreage of Myakka fine sand (sandy, siliceous, hyperthermic Aeric Alaquod) on flatwood landscapes.

  • Charting a Course for the Soil and Water Sciences Department

    Dr. Matt Whiles began serving as the UF/IFAS Soil and Water Sciences Department (SWSD) chair this past January. In his first several months on the job, he faced the same learning curve as all new hires of the University of Florida. However, he had to hit the ground running, dealing with annual faculty and staff reviews, a budget plan, and securing new graduate students. Whiles still found time to answer questions for Myakka, to give SWS alumni, partners, and friends an idea of what he has in mind for the future of the department.  READ MORE

  • Graduate Student Research Spotlight

    “Phosphorus Release from Biochar of Various Feedstocks: Implications for Land Management”
    Andressa Freitas (Soil and Water Sciences PhD 2019)


  • Graduating Senior Taking Soil and Water Sciences Knowledge Overseas

    Ethan Weinrich has packed a lot of experiences into his time at the University of Florida. As a community college transfer student from Tallahassee, it seems that was the only option for his two years in Gainesville. Ethan is graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Environmental Management in Agriculture and Natural Resources through the Soil and Water Sciences Department. His resume includes an undergraduate research project, an on-campus internship, volunteer work, and membership in a student club. Ethan even knows what he is doing after graduation.  READ MORE

  • Soil and Water Sciences Alumna's Service is Rooted in Alaska

    The straight-line distance between Gainesville and Anchorage, Alaska, is a little more than 3,700 miles. Still, that cross-country divide did not deter one Soil and Water Sciences graduate from making the move. Dr. Liz Hodges Snyder is almost ten years removed from the PhD program, but the lessons learned at UF continue to guide her as an associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). READ MORE

  • Professors retiring with more than 130 years of combined experience
    The UF/IFAS Soil and Water Sciences Department is celebrating the service of three professors who have spent decades contributing to the department, its students, and the disciplines in which they pursued their research. They each have made a lasting impact among their colleagues and the students they taught and mentored. Now, Drs. Willie Harris, Peter Nkedi-Kizza, and George O’Connor are planning their futures away from campus.  READ MORE
  • Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy Takes on New Role

    After 18 years as chair of the Soil and Water Sciences Department, Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy stepped down in June 2018.  READ MORE

  • Graduating and Incoming Students
    Congratulations to our students who earned degrees in the spring and welcome to new students beginning their course work this summer.  READ MORE
  • Accomplishments

    Recent awards, honors, and recognition of service for our faculty, students, and staff. READ MORE

  • Research in Soil and Water Sciences

    Some recent work in our key research areas:

    • Carbon Dynamics and Ecosystem Services
    • Landscape Analysis and Modeling
    • Nutrient, Pesticide and Waste Management
    • Soil, Water and Aquifer Remediation
    • Wetlands and Aquatic Ecosystems


  • Undergraduate Research, Internships, and Projects
    A highlight of the work done by our undergraduates in Soil and Water Sciences and Environmental Management in Agriculture and Natural Resources.  READ MORE
  • Publications and Presentations
    Scholarly journal publications and conference presentations by our faculty and graduate students.  READ MORE

handshake for connect with us image                   Giving image with water background

Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy Takes on New Role

Dr. K Ramesh Reddy headshot

After 18 years as chair of the Soil and Water Sciences Department, Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy stepped down in June 2018. Reddy is the second longest serving chair, after F.B. Smith (1944-65) who served for 21 years.

“I am proud of my service as department chair,” Reddy says. “By working with faculty, we developed a productive and successful department that could compete for resources and funds and effectively meet the needs of our diverse clientele.”

He lists the departmental strengths during his tenure as inter-disciplinary programs and grant activity, renowned faculty expertise, research on foundational science and problem-solving applications, diversity of faculty and students, and national and international recognition of the department. While serving as chair, Reddy also maintained strong research and teaching programs.

Starting May 15, 2019, Reddy began a new administrative role as the Interim Director of the School of Natural Resources and Environment. He also continues serving as coordinator of the SWSD Distance Education program.

 Spring 2019 Graduates


Alisheikh Atta (Morgan)

Yan Liao (Gerber)


Emma Fain (Strauss)

Traci Goodhart (Deitch)

Nicole Miller (SNRE) (Meyer)

Kyle Richards (Bhadha)

Nicole Salvatico (P. Inglett)

Sarah Stover (Wright)

Carlita Fiestas-Nunez received an MDP degree
from the Center for African Studies & Center for Latin American Studies
and was advised by Ann Wilkie.

BS - SWS (Advisor - Bonczek)

Caroline Buchanan

Lindsay Furr

BS - IS-EMANR (Advisors - Curry & Enloe)

Monica Fernandez

Benjamin Grubbs

Erik Moretuzzo

Mark Parrish

Jacqlyn Rivas

Deysia Roberson

Ethan Weinrich

Wyatt Windham

SWS Minor (Advisor - Bonczek)

Holli Capps

Anna Dicks

Logan Loadholtz

Austin Rankin

Michelle Rochette

Logan Stacey

Edward Stamborski

Jacob Thayer

Ethan Weinrich

Brooklyn Wilhelm

Anna Yoon

Incoming Students - Summer Semester


Miurel Brewer (Kadyampakeni & Kanissery)

Samuel Kwayke (Kadyampakeni)

Leandro Vieira (Silveira)


Austin Dartez (Deitch)

BS - IS-EMANR (Advisors - Curry & Enloe)

Samuel Bowling

Russell Hansen

Pommary Kem

Justina Mattson

Maria Robinson

Richard Rodriguez

Charles Sardisco

Chelsea Slofkin

Faculty, Staff, and Student Accomplishments

Clayton Nevins received the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) 2019 Clark Soil Biology Graduate Student Scholarship. (Advisors: Inglett and Strauss)

Evandro B. da Silva’s dissertation represented the SWSD in the UF/IFAS 2018 Awards of Excellence for Graduate Research competition. (Advisors: Ma & Wilkie)

Yaslin Gonzalez’s thesis represented the SWSD in the UF/IFAS 2018 Awards of Excellence for Graduate Research competition. (Advisor: Bacon)

Chris Clingensmith was awarded the Delores A. Auzenne Dissertation Award for Spring and Summer 2019 semesters. (Advisor: Grunwald)

Andressa Freitas was a winner of the Association for Academic Women’s (AAW) Emerging Scholar Award. (Advisor: Nair)

Benjamin Grubbs (Environmental Management in Agriculture and Natural Resources), was a finalist for the Larry J. Connor Medal of Excellence from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. (Advisors: Curry and Enloe)

Lindsay Furr (Soil and Water Sciences), was a finalist for the Emelie Matthews Award of Excellence from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. (Advisor: Bonczek)

Lukas Pidgeon (Soil and Water Sciences), received an internship with the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for Summer 2019. (Advisor: Bonczek) 

Michael Sisk, SWSD academic program specialist, was named a First-Gen Advocate with the First-Generation Student Success program at UF.

Lilit Vardanyan, post-doctoral associate of Dr. Reddy, celebrated the first place finish of her 12-year old daughter, Sophie De, won the first place, the grand prize for outstanding violinist and gold medal in the National Concerto Competition held in Atlanta on May 23, 2019. Since moving to the U.S. in 2014, she continues to have online video-classes with her violin teacher in Armenia. VIDEO


Andy Ogram: Floc and periphyton harbor diverse groups of potential mercury methylating prokaryotes in the Everglades.
Most mercury in the Everglades enters as inorganic mercury via atmospheric deposition, some of which is transformed to the more toxic methylmercury through the activities of anaerobic microorganisms. Like most freshwater wetlands, the Everglades comprises diverse habitats, including soil, flocculent material (floc), and periphyton, that harbor diverse microbial communities.  Assemblages of potential Hg methylators in the Everglades are functionally diverse (including methanogens, syntrophs, sulfate reducers, fermenters, and others), which differ between the habitats. This great diversity suggests that the environmental controls on the activities of potential methylators, and on mercury methylation rates, are complex and differ among the different habitats. The research was accepted for publication in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Sarah Strauss: Citrus row middle management to improve soil and root health.
This Citrus Research and Development Fund (CRDF) grant covers a three-year project to examine the use of cover crops in commercial citrus groves. Dr. Davie Kadyampakeni (CREC) is a co-PI from SWSD, along with a weed scientist, agricultural economist, and entomologist collaborator. They are planning to measure a suite of parameters including tree and root growth, soil moisture and nutrients, soil microbial communities, and weed abundances. Dr. Strauss will have a new postdoc from Spain beginning work on the project this summer.

Jehangir Bhadha: Feasibility of using bagasse to improve soil quality and sugarcane yields on mineral soils.
This is a four-year research study funded by U.S. Sugar Corp. to evaluate the commercial feasibility of utilizing bagasse as a potential soil amendment on mineral soils. Bagasse is an agricultural by-product derived from the sugarcane milling process. It is a dry and fibrous residue left after the extraction of sugar juice from sugarcane. Approximately 140 kg of bagasse are produced for every ton of sugarcane processed. With almost 2.5 million metric tons of bagasse generated last year alone in South Florida, need exists to find environmentally friendly and sustainable ways of utilizing the material. As part of graduate student Nan Xu’s dissertation research is to evaluate the change in soil quality and sugarcane yield when bagasse is applied at various rates commercially on mineral soils in South Florida, compared to conventional practice

Jehangir Bhadha: Effect of cultivating flooded rice on soil and water quality within the Everglades Agricultural Area.
Flooded rice is cultivated on nearly 28,000 acres every summer in Everglades Agricultural Area of South Florida in rotation with winter vegetables and sugarcane. Starting spring 2019, graduate student Leandra Gonzalez will be evaluating the impact of various flood depth on water quality, soil health, and rice yields. This is a three-year study funded by the U.S. EPA and Florida Department of Environmental Protection that includes an extension and outreach component in addition to research. Potential research impacts could help growers conserve water, improve water quality, and provide insights into soil sustainability within the region without compromising yields.

Undergraduate Research, Internships, and Individual Projects

Honors Theses and Individual Research Projects, Spring 2019

SWS 4911-Supervised Research in Soil and Water Sciences
Lars Bjorndal (Wilkie) researched the benefits and effects of rainwater collection in Florida: Bjorndal SWS4911 research
Caroline Buchanan (Judy) researched the aggregation of gold nanoparticles in the presence of soil materials: Buchanan SWS4911 research
Connor Tringali (Fujimoto) researched microbial communities found within six lakes in the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station system.

SWS 4915-Honors Thesis Research in Soil and Water Sciences
Rebecca O’Connell (Wilkie) researched the growth of filamentous algae compared to microalgae: O'Connell SWS4915 research

Poster Presentations at the 20th Annual Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium (April 4, 2019)

Advised by Wilkie: Lars Bjorndal, Brett Higgins, Jennifer McGann, Rebecca O’Connell, and John Upchurch
Advised by Fujimoto: Hannah Gutner, Meylin Muniz, Serena Sakkal, and Ethan Weinrich.

Individual Projects and Internships, Spring 2019

SWS 4905-Individual Work in Soil and Water Sciences
Monica Fernandez (Curry) interned as a project manager with development and construction company Stiles.
Vita Repina (Clark) surveyed residents and visitors of Cedar Key about shoreline restoration.
Alexander Fast (Osborne) conducted analytical chemistry analysis on soil and water samples related to a doctoral student's research.
Daniel Lambert (Curry) trained in wetland delineation by identifying soils, vegetation, and monitoring hydrology.
Mark Parrish (Curry) monitored the endangered plant species Conradina glabra at Torreya State Park with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Deysia Roberson (Curry) worked on a Best Management Practices (BMP) plan for a farm in Tennessee.
Donielle Turner (Levy) analyzed citrus plants infected with Huanglongbing (HLB) Disease as part of a broader project on treatment options for HLB.

SWS 4941-Full-time Practical Work Experience in Soil and Water Sciences
Elizabeth Fleck (Curry) worked at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on all aspects of animal husbandry.
Robyn Guy (Curry) worked on GPS field collection of soil and water sample coordinates and excavations with the U.S. Department of Energy.
Carmen Hernandez (Curry) worked on an aquaponics project with AgroInnova, an agroecological products development center in Puerto Rico.
Jacqlyn Rivas (Curry) worked with UF/IFAS Extension in Hillsborough County on curriculum development and program assessment, research, and outreach.


John F. Hallas, Cheryl L. Mackowiak, Ann C. Wilkie and Willie G. Harris. 2019. Struvite phosphorus recovery from aerobically digested municipal wastewater. Sustainability 11(2):376.

José A. Rubio, Luis I. Romero, Ann C. Wilkie and José L. García-Morales. 2019. Mesophilic anaerobic co-digestion of olive-mill waste with cattle manure: Effects of mixture ratio. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 3:9.

Tanumoy Bera, Lilit Vardanyan, Kanika S. Inglett, K. Ramesh Reddy, George A. O'Connor, John E. Erickson and Ann C. Wilkie. 2019.  Influence of select bioenergy by-products on soil carbon and microbial activity: A laboratory study. Science of the Total Environment 653:1354-1363.

Peng Gao, Evandro B. da Silva, Timothy Townsend, Xue Liu, and Lena Q. Ma. 2019. Emerging PAHs in urban soils: concentrations, bioaccessibility, and spatial distribution. Science of The Total Environment 670: 800-805.

Min Xu, Peng Gao, ZhiJun Yang, LinLin Su, Jun Wu, Gang Yang, Xiaohong Zhang, Jing Ma, Hong Peng and Yinlong Xiao. 2019. Biochar impacts on phosphorus cycling in rice ecosystem. Chemosphere 225: 311-319.

Peng Gao, Yungen Liu, Xue Liu, Yan Wang, Ziquan Wang and Lena Q. Ma. 2019. Spatial and temporal changes of P and Ca distribution and fractionation in soil and sediment in a karst farmland-wetland system. Chemosphere 220: 644-650.

Peng Gao, Hongbo Li, Chris P. Wilson, Timothy G. Townsend, Ping Xiang, Yungen Liu and Lena Q. Ma. 2018. Source identification of PAHs in soils based on stable carbon isotopic signatures. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 48:13-15, 923-948.

Yungen Liu, Peng Gao, Jing Su, Evandro B. da Silva, Letúzia M. de Oliveira, Timothy Townsend, Ping Xiang and Lena Q. Ma. 2019. PAHs in urban soils of two Florida cities: concentrations, distribution, and sources. Chemosphere 214: 220-227.

Ping Xiang, Yue Jia, Kun Wang, Meng-Ying Li, Yi-Shu Qin, Rui-Wen He, Peng Gao, Yungen Liu, Xue Liu and Lena Q. Ma. 2018. Water extract of indoor dust induces tight junction disruption in normal human corneal epithelial cells. Environmental Pollution 243: 301-307.

Hamza Keskin, Sabine Grunwald and Willie G. Harris. 2019. Digital mapping of soil carbon fractions with machine learning. Geoderma 339: 40-58

Monika Ardelt and Sabine Grunwald. The importance of self-reflection and awareness for human development in hard times. Research in Human Development J. 1–13.

Chris M. Clingensmith, Sabine Grunwald and S. P. Wani. 2018. Evaluation of calibration subsetting and new chemometric methods on the spectral prediction of key soil properties in a data-limited environment. European J. of Soil Science.

Sabine Grunwald, Congrong Yu and Xiong Xiong. 2018. Transferability and scaling of soil total carbon prediction models in Florida, USA. Pedosphere J. 28(6): 856-872.

Nichola Maria Knox and Sabine Grunwald. 2018. Total soil carbon assessment – Linking field, lab, and landscape through VNIR modeling. Landscape Ecology 33: 2137-2152.  


Trista Brophy, Jihao Tang, David Bracciano, Samuel J. Smidt. 2019. Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Water Production at Tampa Bay Water. National Sustainability Summit & National Extension Energy Summit. Tampa, Florida, April 16-19.

Samuel J. Smidt, Anthony D Kendall, and David W Hyndman. 2018. Increased Dependence on Irrigated Crop Production across the CONUS. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. Washington D.C., December 10-14.

Erin M K Haacker, Samuel J. Smidt, Anthony D Kendall, and David W Hyndman. 2018. Depletion of the Southern High Plains Aquifer: Simulating the Effects of Conserving Irrigation Water through Reduced Irrigated Area and Limited Application. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. Washington D.C., December 10-14.

Sarah L. Strauss, John M Santiago, Kim D Bowman and Ute Albrecht. 2019. Influence of genotype and propagation method on citrus rhizosphere microbiome. Soil Science Society of America Conference. January 6-9.

Andrea Nuzzo, Arnold W. Schumann, Davie M. Kadyampakeni and Sarah L. Strauss. 2019. Benefits of biochar on HLB-affected citrus trees in sandy soils. Soil Science Society of America Conference. San Diego, January 6-9.

Andrea Nuzzo, Bryce Meyering, Ute Albrecht and Sarah L. Strauss. 2019. Impact of commercial management practices on soil microbiomes of HLB-affected citrus trees. Soil Science Society of America Conference. San Diego, January 6-9.

Sarah L. Strauss. 2019. Digging into the interactions of soil amendments, soil microbes, and citrus growth. Florida Citrus Show. Ft. Pierce, January 23-24.

John M Santiago. 2019. Influence of soil type on citrus rhizosphere composition. Soil Science Society of America Conference. San Diego, January 6-9.

Clayton Nevins. 2019. Investigating biological soil crusts and nutrient availability in citrus agroecosystems. UF Plant Science Symposium. Gainesville, January 22-23.

Julie L. Meyer, Valerie J. Paul, Blake Ushijima, Greta S. Aeby and Claudia Häse. 2019. Microbial community shifts associated with the on-going Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease outbreak on the Florida Reef Tract. ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting. Puerto Rico, February 23-March 2.

Nicole Miller, Julie L. Meyer, Tom Frazer and Paul Maneval. 2019. Microbiome structure of nursery-reared Acropora cervicornis. ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting. Puerto Rico, February 23-March 2.