Edward “Gilly” Evans, a longtime agricultural economist at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), has been named director of the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead.
Evans, who served as interim director for almost two years, has overseen the hiring of five new faculty members. The new hires bring expertise in everything from plant biotechnology to agricultural water management to tropical fruit genetics and breeding. Evans leads a staff of 100, including 18 faculty members.
Evans is the first ever director appointed to any of UF’s research and education centers from the Food Resources and Economics department, and the first from the Caribbean.
Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, lauded Evans for his stellar background in research and leadership. “In addition to being a solid scientist, Gilly has an international background consistent with the cosmopolitan culture of the Miami-Dade area,” Payne said. “He has shown outstanding leadership acumen, and is the right person to lead the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in its quest to meet the needs of growers, producers and Floridians.”
South Florida growers face several issues, including effects of climate change causing extreme weather events, sea level rise, invasive pests and diseases, and foreign competition. According to Evans, faculty at TREC are geared up to meet the challenge.
“This is an exciting time of expansion at TREC, and I am extremely happy to be given the opportunity to lead the center to the next level of excellence,” Evans said. “My vision for the center is to have a world-class research facility that will raise the stature of TREC to be a world leader in the provision of new, innovative scientific discoveries and practices. In the long run, this will help sustain tropical and subtropical agriculture and natural resources.”
Evans has worked for UF/IFAS for almost three decades. He was associate director of UF/IFAS Global, the arm of the institute that implements international programs, and is a professor in the UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department.
Before coming to UF, Evans worked at the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Trinidad, the Caribbean Community Secretariat in Guyana and the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. He holds a doctorate from UF, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of the West Indies.