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Longtime citrus scientist Jackie Burns named new dean for UF/IFAS research

“IFAS has a significant base of established research expertise and creativity, with programs of renown.”

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida today named Jackie Burns, the current director of UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, as its new dean for research for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Dr. Burns, a preeminent scientist with 89 research publications, also has proven to be an outstanding administrator in leading one of IFAS’ largest Research and Education Centers,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.  “Her appointment as research dean comes at a time when the $9 billion citrus industry is being threatened by citrus greening, a disease she has been front and center in combating.”

Burns, a native of Southern California, became interested in horticulture as a girl while visiting family who lived in the Central California valley – the state’s breadbasket. She did her undergraduate and master’s work in horticulture at the University of Arkansas, earned her doctorate in horticulture at Pennsylvania State University in 1985 and became a research associate in plant physiology with the United States Department of Agriculture in Athens, Ga.

Burns began her UF career in 1987 as an assistant professor of horticulture at Lake Alfred’s CREC.  She rose through the ranks there as a professor, associate center director, director of the Citrus Research and Education Foundation and eventually, center director.  She also served one year as center director of the Southwest Florida REC.

Burns has secured more than $6.5 million in research funding for the CREC since 2008. Of UF’s $702 million record-breaking research funding in 2013, UF/IFAS researchers brought in $102 million.

Burns said as the UF/IFAS research dean, she will work to invest in initiatives with regional, national and global impact that protect natural resources and related industries.

“IFAS has a significant base of established research expertise and creativity, with programs of renown,” she said. “Although there are challenges ahead, these should be great opportunities for IFAS program leadership.”

Burns also pointed out, as Florida’s population continues to grow, there is ever-increasing pressure on agricultural and natural resources.

“We will be asked to produce more on the same amount of land, or less,” she said. “IFAS is poised to lead research and innovation that will develop the next-generation technologies that increase production on our existing lands.”

Burns will begin Nov. 1 and replaces John Hayes, who left in July for a position in Colorado.

Blueberries

Jackie Burns, a longtime citrus scientist and current director of UF'S Citrus Research and Education Center, has been named the dean for UF/IFAS research.