New Invasive Species Institute Gains Director
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has now appointed internationally acclaimed entomologist and ecologist Matthew Thomas as director of the new Invasion Science Research Institute.
In this newly created role, Thomas will establish the framework for ISRI, which will bring together more than 120 scientists from more than 20 departments.
According to Thomas, “Florida is ‘ground zero’ for invasions. It has the highest concentration of invasive species in the United States, despite spending $100 million per year, by the state, and $265 million per year, by the agriculture and forestry sectors, to control invasive plants alone.”
From citrus canker to fire ants, a study released earlier this year found that invasive bugs, mammals, and bacteria cost the U.S. economy more than $21 billion per year with the ag sector most affected.
Among strategic priorities for ISRI, Thomas hopes to foster research that builds links between disciplines and explores the potential for utilizing novel tools and approaches including biotechnology, biosensors, digital technologies, artificial intelligence and citizen science to advance understanding and management of invasive species.