By Clint Thompson
Students interested in earning a Ph.D. in plant breeding can now turn to the University of Florida/IFAS as their collegiate home.
The Florida Board of Governors granted approval to the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to start a Ph.D. Plant Breeding program, which will begin in August.
“We certainly have had a long history of expertise in plant breeding. We have 27 plant breeders who work on a wide variety of crops. Of course, in Florida, specialty crops are our business. We grow quite a wide variety of things,” said Elaine Turner, dean of UF/IFAS CALS. “We have been doing research on plant breeding, and we’ve been teaching students and preparing graduate students in plant breeding. But up until now, it’s been in the context of a specific discipline.
“We felt it was important enough given the number of plant breeders that we have at the University of Florida, the reputation that we have in plant breeding research and educational programs and also the importance of plant breeding in addressing some of the critical challenges around food security, that we elevate the visibility of our educational program by seeking a Ph.D. that’s called Plant Breeding.”
According to the UF/IFAS, students will pursue their coursework primarily in Gainesville, Florida and work on their dissertation research mostly in their advisor’s lab.
UF/IFAS plant breeders research crops like citrus, tomatoes, strawberries, peanuts, blueberries, corn, lettuce and sugar cane.