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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

UF creates a new institute to promote research on the earth and Florida’s future

Researchers working on UF’s $10 million project want to know if you think the future of Florida is important.

The UF Thompson Institute for Earth Systems will promote research aimed to improve the quality of air, water and land, particularly in Florida, said Bruce MacFadden, the institute’s director. The program was announced in October.

“I think that all Floridians should understand it is important for us to do what we can to preserve and understand the future of our state and its environments and natural beauty,” he said.

More than 50 UF departments and units on campus are collaborating on the research, MacFadden said. The program aims to inform Florida teachers, schoolchildren and UF non-science majors about the university’s research on earth systems.

“They will better understand how they can make Florida better in the future in terms of its environment and natural beauty,” he said.

The initiative is funded by a $10 million gift from UF alumni Jon and Beverly Thompson, MacFadden said.

Three faculty fellows from different UF colleges were selected to offer advice and participate in activities and outreach events, MacFadden said.

The three fellows are Pasha Antonenko from the College of Education, Andrea Lucky from the department of entomology and nematology and Andrea Dutton, an assistant professor in the department of geological sciences.

Dutton said she hopes the institute will teach people about how the natural world works, especially considering how red tide and rising sea levels affect Floridians.

“While I love my research, I truly believe that my job is not complete unless I am able to convey my knowledge — not just to my scientific peers, but also to the general public,” she said.

Contact McKenna Beery at mbeery@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @mckennabeery

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