The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has promoted one of its scientists to head its agronomy department.

University of Florida names agronomy department head


Maria Gallo, who worked to create non-allergenic peanuts, was named chairman of the Gainesville-based university’s department.

Gallo, who has been the department’s interim chair since September 2009, succeeds Jerry Bennett, the department’s longtime head.

“Maria Gallo represents what is best about the IFAS faculty,” Jack Payne, the university’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said in a news release. “She is a proven researcher, gifted teacher and a great team player, who as an administrator, recognizes the challenges of her department, IFAS and the university in maintaining the level of expertise necessary to solve global problems.”

In the release, Gallo said the biggest challenges for her department involve finding ways to communicate to potential undergraduates how agronomy involves more than crop production and how the field has increasingly become an academic discipline focused on issues involving sustainable agriculture, bioenergy, climate change research and controlling invasive plants.

Gallo has been on the university faculty since 1996.