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Mary Lusk

Assistant Professor, Urban Soil and Water Quality
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center

Program Areas

  • Research

    Departmental Research Areas:

    Research focus:
    By 2050, more than 2/3rds of the earth’s population will live in urban areas, and population growth will add 2.5 billion people to urban centers. We’re in a time of rapid urbanization and much of how we do so sustainably will depend on how well we employ development practices that are protective of soil and water quality. Doing this will require engagement in research and extension activities that discover and promote science-based best management practices for urban landscapes.

    My research investigates how landscape management practices at site and neighborhood scales influence the storage, transport, and fate of constituents that may lead to water quality degradation. I study the flux and storage of nutrients in managed urban landscapes, and the linkages between landscape management practices and urban soil and water quality.

    Much of my work is driven by the hypothesis that human decisions in urban land management can influence the accumulation and turnover of ecologically important elements (C, N, and P) in urban soils, and that this in turn is one regulating influence on land-water exchanges of these elements. In basic research endeavors, this involves elucidating mechanisms of nutrient cycling under conditions of ecological disturbance. In applied research, this means developing and testing urban best management practices such as approaches for maintaining soil organic matter, reducing stormwater flows, and using nutrients efficiently.

  • Extension

    My Extension program goal is to develop regional partnerships and collaborations that will provide Floridians science-based information about

    • Water conservation. Even with our abundant summer rainfall, water shortages are not uncommon in Florida. My Extension programs aim to educate Florida citizens about water conservation, alternative water supplies, and water use efficiency. My statewide goals in this area are to

      • Reduce water use in the landscape
      • Increase urban irrigation efficiency
      • Increase the beneficial reuse of reclaimed water
    • Urban water quality. By 2030, Florida will need an additional 1.3 billion gallons per day of fresh water to keep up with state population growth trends. Much of this water will be used by an increasingly urban population. My Extension goals in this area are to develop educational programs that will

      • Reduce nonpoint source pollution from urban sources
      • Increase participation in Florida Friendly Landscaping programs
      • Give Green Industry Professionals and Builders/Developers the science-based tools they need to make sustainable actions at the sites where they work


  • Google Scholar
  • Extension Publications (EDIS)

Curriculum Vitae

CV Mary Lusk

Mary Lusk


Gulf Coast Research and Education Center
University of Florida
14625 CR 672
Wimauma, FL 33598

(813) 419-6670