Water Institute Spotlight February 15, 2021

In commemoration of Black History Month throughout February we will celebrate and highlight the scholarly achievements and contributions of UF Water Institute affiliated Black faculty and students working to understand and solve interdisciplinary water issues.

Izuchukwu Ezukanma, PhD Student

Izuchukwu Ezukanma is a PhD student in the Biology Department and is part of the 2019 UF Water Institute Graduate Fellows (WIGF) cohort investigating high latitude hydrology and the significance of ice loss in the arctic. As part of this interdisciplinary project, his primary research focus is plant succession and colonization of recently de-glaciated landscapes. His interests include investigating the effects of runoff from biogenic weathered landscapes on nutrient fluxes and primary productivity on adjoining watersheds in Greenland. Before joining WIGF, Izu studied bryophyte diversity in lowland agroforests in western Nigeria and pioneered the collection of bryophytes in Nigeria’s largest forest reserve, the Gashaka-Gumti National Park. During this time he discovered the species, Fissidens ezukanmae Brugg., and other new national and regional species. He plans to pursue a career in global conservation, environmental and development agencies.

Black History month offers yet another unique opportunity to reflect and appreciate the struggles and sacrifices that pushed to make the world more inclusive and equitable. The heroes of African-American struggles in many ways successfully placed on the global consciousness the import of the dignity and rights of all humans. I am pleased to see serious discussions and initiatives (in UF Biology and Water Institute) aimed at making STEM more diverse and inclusive. I equally recognize that there is still much work to be done in integrating STEM. – Izuchukwu Ezukanma

Dr. Davie Kadyampakeni, Assistant Professor

Dr. Davie Kadyampakeni is an Assistant Professor in the Soil and Water Sciences Department and the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center. He is a UF Water Institute Faculty Fellow and part of the 2022 WIGF cohort researching the beneficial reuse of wastewater in Florida. Dr. Kadyampakeni has a robust research and extension program focusing on nutrient management for key Florida crops, including blueberry, tomato, and citrus. His research has contributed significantly to understanding the relationships between Huanglongbing (citrus greening) and nutrient management. His work provides growers with critical information they can use to extend productivity of citrus affected by the disease. In addition to his critical research concerning nutrient management in citrus, Dr. Kadyampakeni has provided leadership to an effort to assess critical water management needs throughout the Southern Region of the United States. His hobbies include playing and watching soccer, watching football and local news. He also likes to visit zoos and nature parks to see animals and different kinds of plants.

I participate in the preparation of elementary, middle and high school students for science project competition. I give talks or lectures to fifth graders at local schools about the continent of Africa, the culture, beliefs and several aspects related to Africans. At work, I have had the opportunity of assembling and working with a program team of students, postdocs and staff from Asia, Europe, Africa, South and Central America, and the US with varying cultural, lingual, racial, ethnic and academic backgrounds. In my collaborations, I cherish mingling with scientists of varying backgrounds. I also sit on the UF/IFAS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and the UF Soil and Water Sciences Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to help foster an environment of inclusion, equal participation and active citizenship among people of different backgrounds and nationalities. – Dr. Davie Kadyampakeni

Brandon Quinn-Ivey, PhD Student

Brandon Quinn-Ivey is a PhD student in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department (ABE), and recipient of the 2020 ABE-Pathfinder Fellowship. He is working with his advisor, Dr. Sandra Guzmán, to develop a centralized system for real-time proxy status of nanobubble injection systems in water for agricultural irrigation in southeast Florida. The goal of this research is to provide effective water management solutions to producers. Upon finishing his doctoral degree, he plans to start his own engineering firm to service his community. His goal is to employ people who look like him in a work environment where they can be themselves and have a successful and enjoyable career.

Though it is acknowledged for one month, Black History is something I carry with me all year long. The celebration of Black History is important because the achievements and inventions of Black people before us provide inspiration for the future of our community. I celebrate Black History through mentorship, community service and education. I honor diversity in my work through cultural experiences. I make myself open to traditions from all cultures and always offer traditions of my own. – Brandon Quinn-Ivey

February 15, 2021