Ronald Cave Named Director of UF/IFAS Indian River Research Facility

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Ronald Cave, associate professor, Entomology, and Nematology at the Indian River REC in Ft. Pierce.
UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

An entomologist recognized internationally as a specialist in biological control of insect pests has been named the director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River Research and Education Center.

Ronald D. Cave will serve as the sixth leader of the Indian River REC.

From the Indian River REC’s 1947 start as the Indian River Field Laboratory, it has served agricultural and natural resources interest with research, Extension and teaching programs. The center is celebrating 70 years of service to the region and the world.

Cave served as interim director for more than a year at the UF/IFAS Indian River REC. He was a natural choice for the permanent position, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.

“Ron Cave is the right leader because of his accomplishments as a scientist, his dedication as a mentor and his familiarity with the center. It’s this combination of excellence and stability that makes him an ideal choice for this important role,” Payne said.

Cave said he envisions the restoration of the Indian River District as a thriving production region for the world’s highest quality grapefruit, oranges, and other tree crops.

“We are hiring new faculty members whose missions will be to resolve the current problems the local citrus industry is facing,” said Cave. “My job will be to facilitate all IRREC faculty to be successful in their research and Extension programs and lead the region to its full production potential.”

In his work as an entomology professor, Cave is one of two researchers on the forefront of invasive species control at the UF/IFAS Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory. Cave’s research focuses on controlling invasive insects including the Mexican bromeliad weevil, the Sri Lankan weevil scale, and ambrosia beetles. He has supervised the programs of six Ph.D. and four master’s students.

Prior to his 2002 appointment with UF/IFAS, Cave worked for 15 years as a professor in the Department of Plant Protection at the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana, Zamorano, Honduras. In Central America, Cave remains a prominent adjunct educator.

Cave mentored 31 students at Zamorano and two at the Escuela de Agricultura y Ganadería de Esteli in Nicaragua. He continues to host Zamorano students as interns in his laboratory, he said.

He currently serves as managing editor of The Coleopterists Bulletin, an international journal devoted to the study of beetles.

Cave also has published 115 articles in scientific journals, 19 book chapters, and five book reviews. He has also produced six videos on pest management, which are used in the courses he teaches.

Cave’s work with jewel scarabs in Honduras was featured on the cover and in a 10-page spread in National Geographic magazine.

Cave earned a doctorate in entomology at Auburn University in 1987. He earned a master’s in entomology at the University of California-Berkeley in 1977 and a bachelor’s from the University of California-Davis in 1975.

by Brad James, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

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