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Institute for Sustainable Food Systems

Innovative solutions for a healthy and productive world

Institute for Sustainable Food Systems

Innovative solutions for a healthy and productive world

The Sustainable Food Systems experts are an integral part of UF/IFAS Research to improve the quality of life in Florida and throughout the world.



Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida

Senthold Asseng works on systems analysis to understand, compare and improve the productivity and sustainability of atmosphere-crop-soil systems changing over time, space and scales. He is a co-Leader of AgMIP-Wheat, an international team of wheat modelers and experimentalists as part of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project, and the Principal Investigator of the South East Climate Consortium (SECC). He is the elected Chair of the Expert Working Group Wheat Plant and Crop Modeling of the international Wheat Initiative, and author of more than 150 refereed scientific articles. He received degrees in Agronomy and Crop Modeling (M.S, 1990 and Ph.D., 1994) from Humboldt University Berlin and (D.Sc., 2004) from Technical University Munich, Germany.

George Baker

Assistant Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Florida

Dr. Baker is the Florida Sea Grant seafood science and technology extension specialist for UF/ IFAS and a faculty member in the Food Science & Human Nutrition Department. Dr. Baker provides seafood hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and other seafood quality and safety training courses to seafood processors and retailers. His research involves the technical aspects of seafood and aquaculture product safety and quality using instrumental flavor and odor profiling and sensory analysis techniques.  He specializes in chromatographic and solid phase microextraction separation techniques, oxidative rancidity, and product shelf-life determinations. In 2007, he was named the Laboratorian of the Year by the Florida Association for Food Protection, a recognition of outstanding commitment in using and developing innovative and practical laboratory techniques to support food safety.

Xiang Bi

Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida

Xiang Bi works in the broad areas of environmental and resource economics, consumer economics and marketing, and development economics. Dr. Bi's recent work has focused on assessment of socioeconomic impacts of policies, tipping points of willingness to pay, and valuation of ecological benefits of natural resources and recreation in the context of sustainability.

Mark Brown

Professor, Environmental Engineering, University of Florida

Mark Brown is the Director of the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands and the Director of the Center for Environmental Policy in the UF School of Engineering. His work centers on natural resource management including: systems ecology, ecological engineering, ecological economics, environmental planning, environmental policy, and wetlands ecology.

Christa Court

Assistant Scientist, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

Christa Court serves as the Assistant Director of the Economic Impact Analysis Program within the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida (UF). Her research program focuses on connections between human and natural systems and integrates environmental data and models with models of the economy. Her goal is to advance understanding and the body of knowledge across multiple disciplines and to enhance the information available to policymakers as they tackle complex societal issues, particularly those related to the food-energy-water nexus, waste management, pollution generation, climate change, and sustainable development. She has provided expertise on regional economic modeling for multiple interdisciplinary projects from a variety of funding agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council, and the Missouri Energy Initiative. Prior to joining UF, Christa Court spent time as a visiting researcher at the University of Strathclyde and Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and spent four years as a contract economist for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, where her work centered on modeling the economic impacts of energy technology transitions and incorporating data on water availability into energy-economy models. She also holds affiliate faculty positions with the UF Water Institute and with the Regional Research Institute at West Virginia University.

photo of Johann DesaegerJohan Desaeger

Assistant Professor, Entomology and Nematology Department, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, University of Florida

Johan Desaeger studies the impacts of cover crops and management strategies (solarization, biofumigation) on the mitigation of damage to crops from plant parasitic nematodes. His research also aims to optimize current fumigant practices based on interactions with soil water and the development and assessment of novel and safer nematicides.

Derek Farnsworth

Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

Liz Felter

Horticulture and Food Systems Extension Agent, University of Florida

Dr. Felter teaches horticultural, environmental and food systems topics to industry business owners. Her focus is on education and training for the commercial nursery and greenhouse industry. She manages the Diagnostic Plant Clinic at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center and researches human behavior change in agricultural and horticultural contexts.

Kelly Grogan

Associate Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

Kelly Grogan researches bioeconomic modeling of agricultural risks and economic components of sustainable agriculture, including pest management, water use, and biological control, and adoption of and marketing of sustainable management practices.

Lisa House

Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

Lisa House is an agricultural economist and Director of the Florida Agricultural Market Research Center at the University of Florida. Dr. House researches consumer preferences and demand for food products, with a focus on fruit and vegetable perception, seafood products demand, the role of social networks and acceptance of genetically modified foods. In addition, Dr. House has a distinguished record of teaching and advising awards.

Andrew Kane

Associate Professor, Department of Environmental & Global Health, University of Florida

Gregory Kiker

Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida

Greg Kiker has over 25 years of experience with simulation modeling of coupled human-natural systems including household decision-making, savanna ecology, deforestation, crop production and livestock/wildlife dynamics. As an Associate Professor at the University of Florida, his current research projects include environmental modeling, agent-based platforms, decision support systems and practical linkages of risk analysis, adaptive management and multi-criteria decision analysis. Greg is a two–time Fulbright Scholar to South Africa (1992 and 2012) and received his PhD from Cornell University in 1998. From 1998 to 2002, Dr. Kiker was a Senior Lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where he conducted ecological and agro-hydrological modeling and climate change research. He has consulted widely in Africa and Latin America in the use of simulation models for ecosystem management, crop yield prediction, decision/risk analysis and climate change.

Kai Lorenzen

Professor, Integrative Fisheries Science, University of Florida

Kai Lorenzen uses integrative, trans-disciplinary approaches to analyze fisheries and aquaculture systems and enhance their productivity and sustainability. Best known for his work on fisheries enhancements (fisheries systems that combine attributes of capture fisheries and aquaculture) and on fish population dynamics, he has also published on aquatic resource use and conservation in agricultural landscapes, environmental management of aquaculture, fisheries governance, management of stakeholder conflicts, and the role of aquatic resource use in rural livelihoods. Lorenzen has worked extensively on freshwater systems in the Mekong and Amazon regions and more recently, coastal systems in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Prior to joining UF in 2010, Kai Lorenzen served for 13 years on the faculty of Imperial College London. In 2007-08 he held the William R and Lenore Mote Eminent Scholar Chair in Fisheries Ecology at Florida State University.

He received his Ph.D. in Applied Population Biology from the University of London and his M.S degree in Biology with Mathematics from the Kiel University.

Anne Mathews

Associate Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Florida

Dr. Mathews’ research interests are in elucidating the relationship between adiposity, lifestyle behaviors, genetics and chronic disease. Modifying disease risk through "improvements" in nutrition and physical activity habits is a powerful treatment. Dr. Mathews’ research focuses on evaluating the effects of various approaches to enhance the adoption of healthy lifestyle behaviors and to accurately and objectively assess the physiological outcomes of these behaviors contributes to this body of work. Her previous and current work targets populations that may most benefit from improvements in lifestyle, such as those with a history of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Her projects extend to the prevention of obesity as well with a specific focus on preschool and elementary-aged children.

Travis McArthur

Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

Travis McArthur researches smallholder agricultural production systems of Latin America, with a focus on firm heterogeneity and sectoral efficiency.

Brandon McFadden

Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

 Conner Mullally

Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

Conner Mullally studies policy interventions related to agricultural production, with a focus on implications for developing countries.

Rafael Muñoz-Carpena

Professor, Hydrology and Environmental Modeling, University of Florida

Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena is a professor at University of Florida (hydrology and environmental modeling), preceded by work at the Agricultural Research Institute of the Canary islands (irrigation hydrology and water quality in volcanic soils), Spain, and as senior visiting researcher at CEMAGREF (now IRSTEA) the Environmental Research Institute of the French Government (modelling shallow water table effects on vegetation buffers), Lyon, France. He earned a Ph.D. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering specialized in water resources (hydrology and sediment transport in vegetation buffers) at North Carolina State University with a USDA/Fulbright doctoral scholarship, and MSc. and BSc. Agricultural Engineering degrees from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain. His work focuses on integrated environmental systems modelling, including interactions between hydrological, ecological and human components. His computer model VFSMOD to study the effect of vegetative buffers as a surface runoff pollution control practice is widely used in long-term (higher-tier) pesticide environmental assessments as part of the regulatory registration process in the EU and USA.

He has over 110 refereed publications, has written two books, 11 book chapters and 250 other technical publications, and has completed research funded by NSF, DOI, DOE, USDA, and Bayer. He has received various University of Florida awards like the UF Research Foundation Professor and UF Water Institute Fellow, and 2 UF International Achievement Awards. His has been nationally recognized as recipient of 2015 ASABE ADS/Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award, Fellow of ASABE, and the 2013 National Postdoctoral Association Mentor Award. In 2015 he was also elected as a Foreign Member (“Académico”) of the Royal Society of Engineering of Spain.

Patrick Mutuo

Affiliated Faculty, Soil and Water Sciences Department, University of Florida

Patrick Mutuo is a soil scientist based at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nairobi, Kenya. He is collaborating with UF scientists and students on sustainable agricultural intensification and soil fertility testing (SoilDoc).

Rao Mylavarapu

Professor, Soil and Water Sciences Department, University of Florida

Dr. Mylavarapu serves as the Director of the statewide IFAS Analytical Services Laboratories. His over 30 years of experience includes work at Clemson University and USDA-ARS as soils specialist working on crop nutrient requirements and water quality. His program at UF has been successful in obtaining over $17 million in collaborative grants authored over 150 research and extension book chapters and publications. His program has hosted scientists, including a Fulbright scholar, and students from over 12 countries. He served as President of Soil & Plant Analysis Council and as the Chair of Nutrient Management and Soil and Plant Analysis Division, Soil Science Society of America, and as the leader of the USDA-NIFA-SERA-IEG-6 on Nutrient Analysis & Interpretation and Nutrient Management Team of 14 southern states in the US under Southern Regional Water Program. He leads the IFAS Certified Crop Adviser training program and the Florida Phosphorus Index Committee.

Gulcan Onel

Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

Gulcan Onel's research focuses on price and demand analysis using time series and nonlinear econometrics, and the implications of immigration and immigration enforcement on agricultural labor supply.

Fred Royce

Assistant Instructor, Agricultural & Biological Engineering and Soil and Water Sciences, University of Florida

Fred Royce has been studying Cuban agriculture since 1995.  Since 2000, he has organized several trips to Cuba for UF faculty and graduate students, and as Academic Coordinator of the collaborative agreement between the University of Florida and the University of Havana, he frequently helps UF scientists connect with Cuban peers.  Among his interests is to understand and communicate the ways in which agriculture in Florida and Cuba can each benefit from more open US-Cuba relations.  At the farm scale in Cuba, his focus is on the functioning of cooperative arrangements among small farmers.  Within ISFS he works primarily with Pedro Sanchez on agriculture and environmental sustainability in Cuba.

James Seale

Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida

James Seale has a distinguished record in the area of international agricultural economics, including international trade and finance, economic growth, cross-country and import demand analysis, and applied econometrics, including impacts of food safety standards on small and mid-sized farms, land allocation patterns among major crops, and global food consumption patterns.

Karla Shelnutt

Associate Professor and Extension Nutrition Specialist, Department of Family, Youth & Community Sciences, University of Florida

Dr. Shelnutt’s research program focuses on examining the influences and motivations toward positive health behaviors related to nutrition and weight management. She designs and tests tailored interventions grounded in behavioral theory and measures behavior change by developing and using valid survey tools. She is particularly interested in food insecurity on college campuses. Dr. Shelnutt provides statewide leadership for her Extension program that focuses on teaching low-income families to make better nutrition and physical activity choices. In this role, she serves as the Principal Investigator of the Family Nutrition Program (Florida’s SNAP-Education Program) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

Kathryn Stofer

Research Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education and Communication Department, University of Florida

Katie Stofer focuses her research on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, especially in free-choice or informal education and outreach settings, with an emphasis on making STEM evident in agricultural education. She examines science communication using visualizations of data and models and designs innovative outreach projects in collaboration with scientists doing basic research.

Pilar Useche

Associate Professor, Food and Resource Economics and Center for Latin American Studies

Pilar Useche studies applied agricultural economics in the context of sustainable international development, with a focus on Latin America. Her current research centers on inequality and gender, innovation and technology adoption, and natural resource management implications.

James Wilen

Professor, Natural Resource Economics, University of California, Davis

James Wilen is a distinguished professor of Natural Resource Economics at UC Davis. He has wide ranging interests in the field, including bioeconomic modelling; spatial models of resource use; terrestrial and marine reserves; bioinvasions; dynamics of open access exploitation; micro foundations of entry-exit decisions; performance of natural resource asset markets; factor distortion in regulated common property industries; energy economics; biomass utilization; recreation economics; transferable quotas; economics of searching behavior; economics of aquaculture; natural resource damage analysis; agricultural pollution; fisheries labor markets; analysis of fisheries markets; technical change and productivity in resource industries; economics of cooperation; economic development/natural resources.