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West Florida Research and Education Center

West Florida Research and Education Center


The University of Florida is a land-grant university and an Association of American Universities member. Our faculty are committed to the UF/IFAS research mission while also assuming Extension and teaching responsibilities. Findings from their research are used as the basis for Extension programs taught statewide via publications, distance education, and field day events, and are the foundation for many of the classes taught by our faculty.

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C. Wesley Wood

Professor and Director
Soil and Water Science
850-983-7126 | Milton Rm. 4905

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J. Bryan Unruh

Professor and Associate Director
Environmental Horticulture
850-983-7105 | Jay Admin Rm. 15

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Matthew Deitch

Assistant Professor
Watershed Management
850-983-7131 | Milton Rm. 4917

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Deborah Miller

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
850-983-7128 | Milton Rm. 4906

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Mack Thetford

Associate Professor
Environmental Horticulture
850-983-7130 | Milton Rm. 4921

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Ajay Sharma

Assistant Professor
Forest Resource and Conservation
850-983-7129 | Milton Rm. 4919

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Barry Brecke

Professor Emeritus

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Pratap Devkota

Assistant Professor
Weed Science
850-983-7102 | Jay Admin Rm. 9

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 Silvana Paula-Moraes

Assistant Professor
850-983-7101 | Jay Admin Rm. 11

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 Mike Mulvaney

Assistant Professor
850-983-7104 | Jay Admin Rm. 13

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Administrative Staff

Michelle Hardy

Secretary, Jay

Main Duties: Provides secretarial support for Jay Research Facility faculty and staff; WFREC Newsletter; Assists Events Coordinator with event preparations; Social media; Data entry; Calculates farm fuel and well water use; Schedules Graduate student stays in Jay Graduate Housing

Merniece Johnson


Accounting Manager

Main Duties: Monitor expenditures for all State, grant and SHARE accounts; Purchase orders; Equipment purchases-dealing with vendor bids and vendor inquiries; PCards, Travel, Asset Management/Inventory

Carol Johnston


Administrative Specialist II, Human Resources/Grants Assistant

Main Duties: Personnel and payroll activities for WFREC employees and graduate students; Contact for new hire orientations, payroll distributions, health assessment management system, worker’s compensation claims, effort reporting, CRIS reports, and space inventory and allocation survey; Grant processing/assistance to faculty with grant proposals and award documents

Mark Long

Mark Long 150x180

Admissions Officer I

Main Duties: Collects and analyzes recruiting and enrollment information; Coordinates student recruitment programs; Facilitates the transfer of students; Recruits by visiting high schools and community colleges; Contact for admissions to UF/IFAS Milton academic programs

Connie Spencer


Academic Assistant I

Main Duties: Assist students with advising appointments, course registration, drop/adds, and all other concerns. Creates course offerings based on local and online curriculum available each semester. Reserves classrooms and conference rooms. Processes and approves Pcard transactions. Maintains teaching van maintenance and reservations for field trips. Maintains Student files and audits. Assistant to Faculty members. Maintains WFREC Directory, mail, and front desk reception

Lee Thrasher

IT Professional

Main Duties: Providing technical support and maintenance for hardware and software utilized by the WFREC in Milton and in Jay; Sets up technology for remote locations, field recordings, event and field trip photography; WFREC Web Page and Blog Support 

Robin Vickers

Administrative Support Assistant III, Events

Main Duties: Arranging all of the external and internal events for the WFREC; Administrative Assistant to the Center Director

Melissa Watson

OPS/FT Fiscal Assistant

Main Duties: Travel authorizations, travel expense reports, myUFMarket purchasing requisitions, myUF Payment Solutions accounts payable processing

Farm Support

Justin Hudson


Maintenance Generalist II

Main Duties: Preventive maintenance and repair for farm equipment, center vehicles and buildings for the WFREC; Assists with the planting, fertilizing, harvesting and sampling of Research and Demonstration plots

Greg Kimmons


Farm Manager

Main Duties: Supervises the farm operations staff that is responsible for general field plot operations, operating equipment in experimental field plots, extension demonstration plots and general farm maintenance

Chad Stewart


Agricultural Assistant II

Main Duties: Operates all farm and construction equipment; Operates several pieces of equipment fitted with new technology such as GIS,GPS (Global Positioning System); Assists with the planting, fertilizing, harvesting and sampling of Research and Demonstration plots

Research and Technical

Tim Baxley


Senior Laboratory Technician, Environmental Horticulture

Main Duties: Helps conduct horticultural research field, nursery, and greenhouse experiments; Prepares materials for teaching of laboratory sections of horticulture courses; Maintains display gardens

James “Moo” Brown


Laboratory Technician III, Cropping Systems

Main duties: Responsible for coordination and implementation of activities for the establishment and maintenance of field, greenhouse and lab experiments; Responsible for data collection, data entry, and statistical analysis for studies

Savannah Cain

Laboratory Technician III, Watershed Management

Main Duties: Helps conduct watershed conservation research in the field; Prepares materials for teaching of laboratory sections of watershed management and conservation courses


Laboratory Technician III, Weed Science

Main Duties: Responsible for the planning and implementation of Weed Science projects; Supervises the Weed Science team

Jayson Ging


Laboratory Technician III, Turfgrass

Main Duties: Maintains Turfgrass Research/Demonstration plots, projects and facility

Latisa Ledbetter-Kish

Laboratory Technician III, Entomology

Main Duties: Helps conduct entomology research in the field; Prepares materials for teaching of entomology courses

Gina Mangold

Laboratory Technician III, Wildlife

Main Duties: Prepares materials for teaching of laboratory sections of wildlife ecology and conservation courses; Helps conduct natural resources conservation research in the field and in the greenhouse including animal sampling, physical plot preparation, treatment installation, plot maintenance, and data collection.

Chase McKeithen

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Biological Scientist III, Turfgrass

Main Duties: Establishes and maintains research/demonstration studies related to turfgrass management; Provides Routine Research Plot/Facility Maintenance

Justin McKeithen


Laboratory Technician III, Forestry

Main Duties: Helps conduct ecological and silvicultural research in the field; Certified Burner; Utilizes SAS, SigmaPlot, Procite; responsible for herbicide applications


Post-Doctoral and Graduate Students

Graduate StudentFocus of StudyFaculty Advisor

Mahesh Bashyal


  Dr. Michael J. Mulvaney

Agustin Boeri


  Dr. J. Bryan Unruh

Iza Barbados

Profile Pic 19Aug19

  Dr. Silvana Paula-Moraes

Gabriel Campbell



Dr. Mack Thetford

Jesse Frazier


  Dr. Ajay Sharma

Joseph Iboyi


  Dr. Michael J. Mulvaney

Prasanna Kharel 


  Dr. Pratap Devkota

Tyler Shaw 


  Dr. Silvana Paula-Moraes

Ruby Tiwari

Profile Pic 20Aug19

  Dr. Pratap Devkota 

Jiahua Zhou


  Dr. Matthew Deitch


Barbara Almario

Barbara Almario is an Area Wildlife Biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). She has been responsible for directing wildlife habitat management activities on Blackwater and Yellow River Wildlife Management Areas since 2006. Originally from Wisconsin, Barbara received her B.S in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her M.S. in Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology from Frostburg State University in Maryland. She moved to Florida in 2005, working for a short time at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gulf Ecology Division lab in Gulf Breeze and at Eglin Air Force Base Jackson Guard before transitioning to her current position.

Billy Danielson

Billy Danielson is the Corporate Sales and Marketing Manager for Smith Tractor Company, a John Deere dealership. He is involved in community events including Farm to City and the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and is on the board of the Atmore Chamber of Commerce. He has a passion for bringing awareness to the communities of all ages, the different aspect of agriculture, and the impact it has on our economics as well as everyday life. He is married to Brandy Danielson and has a daughter named Bailey.


Jerry Davis 8April2020 Jerry Davis

Mickey Diamond

Mickey Diamond is a third-generation farmer at JM Diamond Farms in Jay, FL. JM Diamond Farms consists of cotton, peanuts, soybean, wheat, and timber. Mickey is married to Lisa and has a daughter named Lauren.

Doug Hatfield

Doug Hatfield has a cattle and hay farm in Santa Rosa County. He is retired from the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center after 35 years of service.

Jimmie Jarratt

Jimmie Jarratt graduated in 1998 from the University of Florida with a BS degree in Natural Resource Conservation. She currently serves as an Urban Forester & County Arborist under the direction of Escambia County’s Water Quality and Land Management Division. As the County Arborist, Jimmie works with other County departments on protected tree issues, directs urban tree planting projects, coordinates land management activities and promotes a watershed approach to the development of a quantifiable and sustainable urban tree canopy. She received her ISA Arborist Certification in 2006 and became ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified in 2013.

Trent Mathews

Trent Mathews is a 2002 graduate of the University of Florida with a BS in Forest Natural Resources.  He is a District Conservationist for the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resource Conservation Service and the owner/operator of Sweet Season Farms LLC. Trent is active in many community and agriculture organizations and has held leadership positions in the Escarosa Young Farmers and Ranchers, Florida YF&R State Leadership Group, Santa Rosa Young Professionals and served on Advisory committees for Farm Credit of NWFL. He has been married to Sharon for 12 years and they have four children Morgan, Lucas, Laney and Caleb.

Joe Meeks

Joe Meeks is the President of Coastal Machinery Company, a local farm and construction equipment dealer covering the Florida panhandle and lower Alabama.  He is a board member on Kubota Tractor Corporation’s national strategic planning board. Joe and his wife Donna enjoy living and working on their small 20 acre farm in Beulah.

Rick Paschall

Rick Paschall is a franchise owner and financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial since 1999. Prior to that, he was a Chief Petty Office in the US Navy. He serves on the board of directors for Independence for the Blind of West Florida and the Santa Rosa County Fair. He also is member on the Agri-Plex Oversight Committee. He is a member of the Black Water Pyrates, Milton Lions Club, and the Navy League. Rick is married to Terry Paschall and has two daughters, Nick and Rebecca, and four grandchildren.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas is the owner of Milton Tastee Freez and a co-owner of Grover T’s BBQ Restaurant. He is also the owner of Pathway Learning, a leadership, team-building, and assessment organization. He also owns the Blackwater Olive Grove.

Other Advisory Committee Members