Partnership with Florida A&M Sparks New Research

The Apalachicola National Forest, Florida, is the focus of some of the newly funded research projects. Photo by Nate Steiner, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The Apalachicola National Forest, Florida, is the focus of some of the newly funded research projects. Photo by Nate Steiner, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) has a longstanding partnership with Florida A&M University, one of the largest historically black universities in the U.S. In 2014, the SRS funded three new projects at the University’s Center for Water and Air Quality.

“These were seed funds to spark research related to Florida’s forested watersheds – especially in the panhandle region,” says Johnny Grace III, a research engineer at the SRS Forest Watershed Science unit. Grace’s research aims to understand the effects of natural and artificial disturbances on forest watersheds, and he is substantially involved with each of the three projects, providing technical guidance, project monitoring, and quality assurance. In addition to Florida A&M, partners include the National Forests in Florida and private companies.

One of the newly funded projects, led by Florida A&M professor Y.P. Hsieh, will involve sampling soil and nutrient accumulation rates, as well as sulfur chemistry in ephemeral wetlands. The results will indicate environmental quality in the wetlands and surrounding drainage basins. Other projects will examine the seed bank in forest soils and vegetation management in the Apalachicola National Forest, and establish an outdoor classroom. These projects are led by Florida A&M professors O.S. Mbuya and Alfredo Lorenzo.

“One of the key components of the projects, and one of the most attractive aspects for SRS is the involvement of students from non-traditional programs,” says Grace. Both undergraduate and graduate students are involved in many aspects of each project. “These students will become the natural resource professionals and scientists of the future,” says Grace. “Enhancing students’ understanding and experience of natural resource issues, as well as Forest Service research, can only result in an enhanced future workforce. Both the Florida A&M community and the Southern Research Station benefit from the partnership.” 

For more information, contact Johnny Grace at jmgrace@fs.fed.us

 Access the latest publications by SRS scientists.

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