The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has promoted citrus scientist Jackie Burns as dean of research.

Burns, director of the university’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Fla., joined the citrus research facility in 1987 as an assistant professor of horticulture and advanced to professor, associate center director and was also director of the Citrus Research and Education Foundation.

Since 2008, Burns has helped the center generate more than $6.5 million in research funding, according to a news release.

She plans work on projects affecting natural resources and related industries regionally, nationally and globally, according to the release.

As a child, the Southern California native became interested in horticulture while visiting family members in California’s central valley.

The former U.S. Department of Agriculture plant physiology research associate in Athens, Ga., earned her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in horticulture at the University of Arkansas and her doctorate in horticulture at Pennsylvania State University.

“Dr. Burns, a preeminent scientist with 89 research publications, also has proven to be an outstanding administrator in leading one of IFAS’ largest research and education centers,” Jack Payne, university senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said in the release. “Her appointment as research dean comes at a time when the $9 billion citrus industry is being threatened by citrus greening, a disease she has been front and center in combating.”