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Tropical Research And Education Center

Tropical Research And Education Center

What is Agroecology?


Join the conversation on social: #ThatsAgroecology

Watch our Agroecology playlist on YouTube: #ThatsAgroecology video series 


  • Biodiversity in Agriculture

    Biodiversity is an essential feature of healthy ecosystems. Biodiversity in agriculture promotes ecosystem services such as soil quality, weed suppression, and pollination. However, some composition of biodiversity may be detrimental to production and stability for target crop species in agricultural systems. We are working to identify all of the plant species at the Tropical Research and Education Center to understand the composition of the agroecosystem at the research station. We also conduct regular plant diversity surveys to monitor the impacts of biodiversity on the diverse selection of cropping systems at the research station.

  • Agroecosystems

    Sustainability in agriculture requires an understanding of the regional connectedness of farms and their surrounding areas. Whether a farm is surrounded by natural or urban area, the surrounding neighborhood uniquely effects the external pressures affecting farm dynamics and management. We are developing an agroecosystems experiment at TREC to understand the impact of surrounding areas on cropping systems. We are using cover crops to represent a simplified cropping system to evaluate crop physiology, weed suppression and soil amendment. The interaction among characteristics of the surrounding area, such as plant diversity, with the cropping system will begin to uncover important agroecosystem-level drivers and dynamics.

  • Sustainable Cropping Systems

    Peanut Aflatoxin

    Aflatoxins are produced by molds that contaminate many staple crops, such as peanut. Aflatoxin contamination is a common source of crop loss in peanut production, storage, and processing due to the public health risks of aflatoxin ingestion. With collaborators across the University of Florida and Georgia State University, I am working to understand the vulnerabilities to aflatoxin contamination in peanut across the food system. Target areas of the project include adaptive water management on peanut farms and advanced imaging technologies to identify aflatoxin contamination in harvested and stored peanuts.

    Industrial Hemp

    Industrial hemp has been identified as a potentially valuable and impactful alternative crop for Florida. To support the future viability and sustainability of a hemp industry, preliminary assessment of the crop and cropping systems must be established prior to commercialization. With a statewide research team across the University of Florida, we have proposed the UF Industrial Hemp Pilot Project to identify hemp germplasm appropriate for Florida’s diverse environmental and agronomic conditions, to develop cropping systems that serve a diverse range of hemp industries, and to assess and mitigate hemp invasion risk.


  • The Agroecosystem Concept

    Agroecosystems are described by the interacting features of environmental and ecological characteristics of a farm and the surrounding area. Agroecosystems are complex and challenging to manage. The agroecology framework that can help improve the sustainable management of agriculture and natural resources through the agroecosystem concept. “The Agroecosystem Concept” Extension program is a set of trainings aimed at county agriculture and natural resources agents and their stakeholders to increase the visibility of and engagement with agroecosystems. Participants should aspire to develop management strategies that improve environmental and economic outcomes of cropping systems from an understanding of the environmental and ecological characteristics of an agroecosystem.


    Agroecosystems Glossary


  • Get Involved

    There are no positions currently being advertised. Please check this space regularly for information on how you can become involved in TREC Agroecology.


    Dr. Zachary Brym 
    (786) 217-9238 

Join our Team!

Interested in a future position opening? Complete this form: UF/IFAS TREC Agroecology - Student Interest (


Current Members

Dr. Zachary Brym
Agronomy Department
786.217.9238 | Blg 8235, Rm 1-4

I investigate the intersection and interaction between agricultural and natural systems from the perspective of plant physiology and community ecology. I opened the TREC Agroecology Lab in January of 2017 after receiving my Ph.D. from Utah State University and MS from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Cliff Martin

I am a research associate in the TREC Agroecology Lab primarily focused on identifying the diversity of plant species at the research station. My main areas of expertise include botany, entomology, and scientific writing. I earned my Ph.D. at TREC in 2009, where I specialized in ornamental plant and vegetable entomology.

Ajit Williams

I joined the TREC Agroecology lab in the spring of 2019 as an agricultural assistant. Now, as a graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Agronomy with a concentration in Agroecology, I support the research and extension efforts of the UF/IFAS Hemp Program here in South Florida. I have experience in sustainable farming, economics, and cannabis cultivation. I obtained a B.S. in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida in 2017.

Daniel Calzadilla

I joined the lab in the spring of 2019 as a Biological Scientist. Now, in the fall of 2021, as a graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Agronomy with a concentration in Agroecology, I support the lab in daily operations and agroecosystems experiments to progress the field of Agricultural ecology. I graduated from Florida International University in the fall of 2018 with a B.A degree in Environmental Science and Sustainability with a certificate in Agroecology. I have experience and passion for organic gardening, permaculture, and beekeeping.

Da Young Kim

Ph. D student (2021)

I joined the TREC Agroecology lab in the fall of 2021 as a Ph.D. student, and I am working on the Peanut Aflatoxin Project. I completed my master's degree in the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Seoul in Korea, where I specialized in soil science. I am interested in understanding soil-plant-environment interactions to better manage cropping systems and ensure food and feed safety.

Tamara Serrano
Graduate student (2021)
MS in Agronomy | concentration in Agroecology | studying hemp nutrient management

I'm originally from Long Island, NY and I recently graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in Horticultural Sciences with a minor in Soil and Water Sciences along with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. I'm currently continuing my education at the University of Florida, pursuing my MS in Agronomy with a concentration in Agroecology studying hemp nutrient management. My passion for plants and nature started from a farm simulation role-playing videogame called Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. I love exploring the great outdoors, kayaking, camping, hiking, landscaping, and gardening. Ultimately, I want to improve people-plant interactions by helping others with their plants and connecting more people to the joys of nature.

Aroldo Munoz
Agricultural Assistant

Former Members


Larousse Dorissant  Graduate Student  "Residue decomposition dynamics, mixed ratios of two warm-season cover crops"  2021 

Biological scientist at the American University of the Caribbean in Haiti

Ph.D. student at South Dakota State University

Luis Monserrate  Graduate Student   "Assessment of variety selection and nutrient management for industrial hemp production in south Florida"  2021  Plant Breeding, Ph.D. student at Cornel
Stacy Swartz  Graduate Student    "Cover crop production, Competition, and Decomposition in Diverse Mixtures in Southwest Florida Sandy Soils"  2021  Research & Publications Associate at ECHO Global Farm 


Thioro Fall  Ph.D.  2018  n/a 
Romain Gloaguen   Ph. D.    


Dr. Will Wadlington  Postdoc  2020  Director of Plant Science for Green Point Research


Julian Cordo Undergraduate Student Intern   2022 n/a
Teresa Macias  Undergraduate Student Intern  2021  Finishing B.S. degree in Environmental Management in Agriculture and Natural Resources 
Yanissa Rodriguez  Undergraduate Student Intern  2021  n/a 
Ariane Leconte  Undergraduate Student Intern  2021  n/a 
Kingsley Wiggan  Undergraduate Student Intern  n/a  n/a 
Raymond McCoy  Undergraduate Student Intern  n/a  n/a 
Soleil Lobato  Undergraduate Student Intern  2019  Science Teacher at Hialeah Middle School 
Nicole Picon  Undergraduate Student Intern  2018 

M.A. Sustainable Development Practice ‘21 and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow

Finishing MS degree 

Wendy Mesa  Undergraduate Student Intern  2017  n/a 


Shayan Khatibi  Agricultural Assistant (2018) 

TREC Resources