The approach of a new year and decade provide convenient inflection points for charting the future of our great organization. The calendar reminds us that the future will get here faster than we think.
Science equips us with predictive tools that can help us and our stakeholders see that future before it arrives. It does not make us soothsayers, but it does make us good at thinking about what Florida will need in the next decade.
Dean of UF/IFAS Research Rob Gilbert is thinking about it. He convened a very successful Emerging Enterprises Summit this month to organize scientists into teams investigating alternative crops.
Jim Anderson, director of the UF/IFAS Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, is thinking about it. He is assembling experts from around the world to discuss what lies ahead at the Future of Food Forum on Jan. 15.
Kati Migliaccio, chair of the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, is thinking about it. She outcompeted universities around the nation for the privilege of hosting a 75th anniversary celebration for the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. She has put together “Pathways Towards the Next Generation of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Florida” for Jan. 16.
Of course, the search committee for a new UF/IFAS leader will convene in January as well.
Because discovery is driven by what-if questions, science is a discipline accustomed to the unknown. Others are paralyzed by uncertainty. We are energized by it as we attempt to determine probabilities in an unknown future.
Whether it’s global crop monitoring or the likelihood of shoppers buying Florida-grown peaches, our work aspires to inform the public about the future. It gives people the ability to plan instead of respond.
The year 2020 promises to be a key moment in determining the future direction of UF/IFAS. I am depending on you to take an active role in mapping out that future. So are nearly 22 million Floridians.