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UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research

UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research

This Call is For: UF/IFAS Faculty


Submission Deadline: January 19, 2024 (CLOSED)


Overview: The UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research is committed to recognizing the best thesis and best dissertation completed during each calendar year. In addition to identifying overall best thesis and overall best dissertation, we also identify best thesis and best dissertation in each of our major focus areas: (1) Agricultural, (2) Natural Resources, and (3) Human Systems.


Plaques will be presented to all winners as part of the UF/IFAS Florida Agricultural Experiment Station’s Annual Research Awards Ceremony on May 15, 2024. Supervisory committee chairs will also be recognized with a plaque as part of the ceremony. Overall best thesis and overall best dissertation awardees will also receive cash awards ($1,500 Doctorate; $1,000 Master).


Eligibility: All theses and dissertations completed under majors granted in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are eligible (see below). Each M.S. and each Ph.D. major listed by program is allowed to submit one nomination. The nominee’s supervisory chair or co-chair must have a tenure home in UF/IFAS.


Selection Process: Two committees will be established of three faculty members each to evaluate the nominations and select both overall and each program area’s best M.S. thesis and best Ph.D. dissertation based on the following criteria:

1) The quality of the thesis or dissertation presentation (i.e., organization, style, clarity, and writing).

2) The quality of the research (i.e., thoroughness, contribution to the field, importance, originality, depth, and scope).

The relative value of each of the criteria is the decision of the selection committee.


Nomination Process: All nominations must go through the academic lead for the major (typically your Department Chair) and submitted by the Chair or designee at the following website by 5:00pm on January 19, 2024


The information requested includes:

  1. Nomination form (online):
    1. Nominee information (name, UF ID#, major, title, email, and current mailing address)
    2. Supervisory Committee Chair/Co-chair (name and email information)
    3. Nominator (name and email information)
    4. Focus area: (1) Agricultural, (2) Natural Resources, and (3) Human Systems.
  2. Uploaded PDF files:
    1. Letter of nomination
    2. Thesis or dissertation
    3. Supporting materials (e.g., statement by chair or departmental selection committee, or list of presentations, publications, or other outputs derived from the research)


Submission Process: Upon submission, all nominators will receive an immediate email confirmation. If you have any other questions, please contact Dr. Damian Adams, Associate Dean for Research, at dcadams@ufl.eduFor technical issues concerning the website, contact Brian Gray (


Best M.S. Thesis

Click here for the full list of Best Theses - M.S. in UF/IFAS from 1987-2021.

M.S. Thesis - Best in UF/IFAS

Award & Major




Award: Best in Agricultural Systems & BEST OVERALL

Major: Horticultural Sciences

Susmita Gaire Evaluation of Individual Protective Covers (IPCS) for Preventing Vector Transmission of Candidatus Liberibacter Asiaticus and Effects on Growth and Physiology of Young Citrus Trees. Ute Albrecht & Fernando Alferez

Award: Best in Natural Resources

Major: Forest Resources and Conservation

Mary Nell Armstrong The Effect of Fire Season on Understory Plant Reproduction in a Pine Savanna Raelene Crandall

Award: Best in Human Systems

Major: Food Science

Stephanie Hricik Sensory and Quality Analysis of an HLB-Tolerant Citrus Cultivar for Juice Production Renee Goodrich

M.S. Thesis - Best in Major





Agricultural Education and Communication Zoe Bowden  Equine Journalism in a World of Change: Identifying Technical and Social Skills of American Equine Journalists  Ricky Telg &
Lisa Lundy 
Agronomy  Luis Monserrate  Assessment of Variety Selection and Nutrient Management for Industrial Hemp Production in South Florida  Zachary Brym 
Animal Molecular and Cellular Biology  Surawich Jeensuk  Maternal-Embryonic Communication: Regulation of Development of the Bovine Embryo by WNT Family Member 5A  Peter Hansen 
Animal Sciences  Mariana Nehme Marinho  Assessing Residual Feed Intake and Its Associations with Production, Health, and Reproduction in Dairy Cows  Jose Eduardo Santos & Francisco  Penagaricano 
Entomology and Nematology Sierra Schuep  Time Of Day Variation in Permethrin Susceptibility and the Role of Metabolic Resistance in Florida Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) Eva Buckner 
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Bana Kabalan Impacts of Intraspecific Variation in Crayfish Behavioral Traits on Stream Ecosystem Functions and Structure Lindsey Reisinger
Food and Resource Economics Carter Cosgray Citrus Growers’ Willingness to Pay and Perceptions of Ultraviolet Reflective Mulch and Cover Crops Tara Wade
Interdisciplinary Ecology Celine Carneiro Genomic Insight into the Demographic History and Structure of the Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) James Austin
Soil and Water Sciences Amanda Rodriguez Calibrating Mehlich 3-Phosphorus Recommendations Using Iron Oxide Strip Phosphorus and Mehlich 1-Phosphorus Vimala Nair

Best Ph.D. Dissertations

Click here for the full list of Best Dissertations - Ph.D. in UF/IFAS from 1987-2019.

Ph.D. Dissertation - Best in UF/IFAS

Award & Department




Award: Best in Human Systems & BEST OVERALL

Major: Microbiology and Cell Science

Madeline Vroom  Modeled Microgravity Alters Bacteria-Induced Apoptosis in the Squid-Vibrio Symbiosis  Jamie Foster 

Award: Best in Agricultural Systems

Major: Soil and Water Sciences

Clayton Nevins Biological Soil Crusts Impact Nutrient Cycling and Soil Microbiome in Agroecosystems  Patrick Inglett &
Sarah Strauss 

Award: Best in Natural Resources

Major: Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences

Ryan Brazeal  Development of an Open-Source Mobile Mapping System for Unoccupied Aerial Systems  Benjamin Wilkinson 

Ph.D. Dissertation - Best in Major





Agricultural Education and Communication Jonathan Orsini  Not so Different: The Overlapping Constructs of Teamwork and Mentorship.   Nicole Stedman  
Agricultural and Biological Engineering  Patricia Moreno Cadena   Modeling the dynamics of Starch Content in Cassava   Gerrit Hoogenboom & 
Senthold Asseng 
Agronomy  Romain Gloaguen  Characterization of the Belowground Development of a Drought Tolerant Crop (Sesamum indicum L.) and its Use for the Design of an Irrigation Decision Support System  Zachary Brym 
Animal Molecular and Cellular Biology  Mackenzie Dickson   Long-term Impacts of Uterine Infection on Fertility in Dairy Cows   John Bromfield  
Animal Sciences  Elizabeth Palmer   Maternal Gestational Nutrition of Bos indicus-Influenced Beef Cows Impacts the Postnatal Development of Offspring   Philipe Moriel  
Entomology and Nematology  Tse-Yu Chen  The Role of Autophagy in Dengue Virus Infection in Aedes aegypti Chelsea Smartt 
Food and Resource Economics  Bijeta Bijen Saha   Impacts of Water Quality Issues on Recreational and Commercial Fishing Activity: Quasi-Experimental Methods Applied to Florida Red Tide and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill   Christa Court  
Food Science Alan Gutierrez  The Prevalence and Concentration of Salmonella in Poultry Litter and the Effects of Ammonia and Microflora on its Survival in Litter Keith Schneider 
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Beverly Barnett   Inferring Aspects of Northern Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Ecology via Radiocarbon Analysis of Fish Otoliths and Tissues   William Patterson  
Interdisciplinary Ecology  Benjamin Lowe   Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change: the Influence of Religion on Perceptions and Responses to Climate Change, Fisheries Management, and Biodiversity Conservation Susan Jacobson  
Nutritional Sciences Aseel El Zein  Evaluating College Student Food Insecurity and Promoting Food Assistance Use: A Mixed-Methods Approach Anne Mathews 
Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Christina Finegan Functional Genomics of Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Nitrogen Fixation Marcio Resende &
Matias Kirst 
Plant Pathology Jin Xu  Explore Citrus Microbiome Using Metagenomic Approaches Nian Wang 
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Mahi Puri  Prioritizing and Identifying Opportunities for Carnivore Conservation in Human-Dominated Landscapes of India Bette Loiselle & 
Elizabeth Pienaar