Innovation for International Development Projects on UF Campus

Capacity Building

Strengthening Feed Production Capacity in Tamale, Ghana

Basil Bactawar MSc.,, 386-496-2321
IFAS/Union County Extension Services

In 2011, Alhassan Farm located in Tamale, Northern Ghana, requested the assistance of a volunteer Animal Nutritionist to formulate feeds for livestock including guinea birds. This request was coordinated through Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteer Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA). There are approximately 12,000 guinea fowl producers in Northern Ghana, and the availability of balanced rations on the market would increase productivity on farms thereby reducing poverty in the region.

Body of Knowledge on Infrastructure Regulation

Sanford Berg, Ph.D.,, 352-392-0132 
Department of Economics, Public Utility Research Center

Body of Knowledge on Infrastructure Regulation (BoKIR) is a web-based resource that could assist government ministries and regulatory agencies developing and implementing infrastructure policy in developing countries. The Public Utility Research Center (PURC) at UF, funded by the World Bank, created and maintains the web site, keeping it up to date with links to more than 500 references, an extensive glossary and FAQ to facilitate learning. Before the creation of this site, there had been no internationally recognized set of core material required to establish the professional competence of professionals working in regulatory agencies and no standard body of knowledge on infrastructure regulation to serve as guides for capacity building and professional development. Professionals from more than 150 countries have visited and used BoKIR.

The Interamerican Journal of Psychology: An Experiment of the University of Florida using Open Journal Systems

Edil Torres Rivera, Ph.D.,, 352-273-4325
School of Human Development & Organizational Studies in Education, Counselor Education Program

This oral presentation will introduce the Interamerican Journal of Psychology ( as an example of how the Open Journal Systems have served this journal that is published in four languages and its readership expand to 47 different countries.  As well as how the UF library system has been instrumental in the development of this digital odyssey.

Evaluation of New Insecticides for Control of the Malaria Mosquito

Jeff Bloomquist, Ph.D.,, 352-273-9417
Department of Entomology and Nematology; Emerging Pathogens Institute

This project started in 2006 as part of the FNIH Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The overall objective is a new insecticide for control of the malaria mosquito that is safe, effective, and circumvents existing mechanisms of resistance.  Reduction of malaria-induced morbidity and mortality will lessen a huge financial burden on the economies of the developing world.

Improving Rice Crop Productivity under High Temperature Stress Conditions

Aparna Krishnamurthy, Graduate student,, 352-275-3545
Newton Kilasi, Graduate student,, 352-870-9296
Dr. Bala Rathinasabapathi, Professor,, 352-273-4847
Horticultural Sciences Department

During rice crop production, high temperature stress, especially during flowering, severely reduces grain yield.  We have developed a simple and low-cost seed treatment technique to improve the rice crop’s tolerance to heat stress during subsequent development.  We expect the proposed technique will help farmers in the developing countries to sustain yield during high temperature stress conditions. 

Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions in Low Tech Building Envelopes: A Case Study of Low Strength Masonry Systems

Esther Obonyo, D.Eng,, 352-273-1161
Rinker School of Building Construction

The work on low tech building envelopes in the East African context started in 2008. The premise of the work low tech and low cost building envelopes can be resilient and sustainable. Through prototyping a new brick fabrication machine the work has demonstrated how accounting for human factors can play a key role in delivering low tech masonry systems that are cost-effective and context appropriate. Adequate housing is a key problem in developing countries.

Design for Development (D4D)

Maria Rogal,, 352 215 2555
Gabriela Hernández,, 352 216 8518, website:
Graphic Design; School of Art + Art History

Design for Development (D4D) is a social design initiative where graphic design students and faculty leave our studios to work in the field with artisans, farmers, and organizers on locally-led projects in southern México. Our primary purpose is to help marginalized people communicate their own ideas and cultures as they make, market, and sell their own products, ranging from eco and nature tours, honey, organic vegetables, preserves, handicrafts and other items. The participatory design process, which fosters creative thinking, empowerment, and innovation, and the resulting tangible products, demonstrate how design can be used to foster development.

The Haiti Greenhouse Revolution 

Brian Boman,, 772-468-3922
Richard Fetherie,, 352-273-3410
Florence Sergile,, 352-392-1965
Agronomy Department; IFAS International Programs; Indian River Research and Education Center

In 2010, a goal of the Haiti WINNER USAID project was to introduce simple greenhouse structures that could be built, maintained, and operated by farmers in the mountainous regions that cover most of the country. The first small greenhouses were constructed by the IFAS Team demonstrated   both in-ground and vertical production systems and resulted in significantly higher yields and excellent quality compared to traditional mountainside farming. The project was so successful that the WINNER project and Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture have now teamed up to encourage the adoption of this technology, with more than 200 hoop houses already constructed and a  goal to have 1,000  in production by early 2014.

What, When, How Much and Where: New Computational Complexity Tools for Socio-Ecological Analysis and Design

Rafael Munoz-Carpena; Dr. Greg Kiker; Miguel Campo-Bescos; Matteo Convertino, Ph.D.
Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department; IFAS; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

We have applied this multidisciplinary computational approach in the Amazon rainforest, the Okavango Delta, the Kruger National Park, the Florida coast, and the Everglades to understand system’s complexity and guide sustainable natural resources policies in the face of future facing uncertainty and natural and human variability. Our approach is general and extendable to any other complex natural-human system including systems where emerging pathogen and disease transmission issues are present.  These tools will play a greater role to help determine local issues and system feedbacks to avoid adverse or catastrophic system failures.

Technology Transfer

Examining the Potential of Seaweed Aquaculture in Mexico

Diego Valderrama, Ph.D., , 352-294-7678
Food and Resource Economics

Seaweed farming is a relatively recent technology that has lifted the socio-economic status of marginal coastal communities in developing countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Tanzania.  This study explores the biological and economic feasibility of seaweed farming in the coastal community of Dzilam de Bravo in Yucatan, Mexico.  The study, sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, reveals that seaweed farming holds a great potential for improving the socio-economic conditions of fishermen affected by declining capture levels in the traditional fisheries of Yucatan.

Engineers Without Borders - University of Florida Aripalca Project:  Improving the Access to Water in a Community in the Bolivian Highlands

Luis Mendieta,; Luis Delfin,; Geronimo Etchechury,; Kyle Fisher,; Joey Goodall,; Ahmed Hemeid,; Kathleen Kirsch,; Alicia Mata,; Ryan Payne,; Sabah Pirani,; Trace Rohlwing,; Andrew Schwarz,; Aaron Thomas,; Austin Thompson,; William Wise, Ph.D.,; Jose Clavijo,
Department of Agronomy; Department of Biomedical Engineering; Department of Chemical Engineering; Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering; Department of Environmental Engineering; Department of Industrial and Systems; Department of Mechanical Engineering

Since 2005, the Engineers without Borders - University of Florida (EWB-UF) chapter has operated internationally to help improve the livelihoods of rural communities via diverse, student-led engineering projects. The objective of the EWB-UF Aripalca project is to identify the most pressing water access and quality issues in the community of Aripalca, Bolivia, by using a combination of rapid rural appraisals and quantitative water resource audits. The EWB-UF Aripalca project is an example of how student-led development initiatives can function within a land grant institution.

Spectral Data Fusion to Infer on Soil Properties in Smallholder Farms in India

Christopher M. Clingensmith,; Sabine Grunwald,; Suhas Wani,; Amr H. Abd-Elrahman,; Scot E. Smith,; Yiming Xu,
School of Forest Resources and Conservation; School of Natural Resources and Environment; Soil and Water Science Department; International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics Patancheru, India

To maintain soil quality and crop growth is critical, specifically in smallholder farm settings in Southeast Asia where the livelihood of farm communities depends on sustainable management. Optimizing soil carbon and macro- and micro-nutrients under changing environmental, economic, and socio-cultural conditions, such as global climate change and changes in markets and techno-base, have been hampered in these communities due to lack of access, knowledge, and applications of innovative technologies. This NSF-funded project explores the application of various geospatial and sensor technologies for cost-effective and rapid assessment of soil properties with focus on India. These complex spectral-based prediction models will be rigorously verified and then simplified into management indices to serve farmers in managing their fields.

Climate Forecasting to Reduce Risk for Paraguayan Farmers

Clyde W. Fraisse, Ph.D.,
Agricultural & Biological Engineering

It is well known that climate variability caused by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon brings risk to farmers on much of southeastern South America. However its mechanisms and effects are not well understood and not communicated with enough lead time to allow policy makers and farmers to implement adaptation strategies to reduce production risks. Scientists in this project surveyed several Paraguayan farmer cooperatives on members’ knowledge of, and attitudes to seasonal climate variability, and on their expectations from climate forecasts. A crop growth model was used to evaluate adaptive management options under different ENSO scenarios, for example planting different soybean varieties and varying the planting dates. The team also developed strategies for communicating risks, including a web-based decision support tool. 

Transformation Potential of Smallholder Agricultural Farms using Spectral and Geospatial Technologies

Yiming Xu,; Sabine Grunwald,; Scot E. Smith,; Amr H. Abd-Elrahman,; Suhas Wani,; Christopher M. Clingensmith,
School of Forest Resources and Conservation; School of Natural Resources and Environment; Soil and Water Science Department; International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics Patancheru, India

The innovative aspects of this project are: First, various ground- and remote spectral data will be fused to enhance inference of soil and crop specific properties critical for sustainable management. Various vegetation indices (VI) will be derived from high-resolution remote sensing images. Second, various methods and technologies that have shown success to be used separately to predict soil/crop specific properties in the U.S. will be integrated into ensembles of models and then streamed into a geospatial multi-spectral engine (GeoSCIE). Third, spatial resolution and scaling effects of remote sensing images will be investigated in context of small agricultural fields (≤ 1 to 4.3 ha). Fourth, the knowledge gained from spectral models will be transposed into educational learning capsules and simplified indices applicable to farm management in India.

Capacity Building

International Collaboration Networks for Conservation and  Development in the Brazilian Amazon

Robert Buschbacher, Ph.D.,, 352-846-2831; Simone Athayde, Ph.D.,, 352-273-4729; Wendy-Lin Bartels, Ph.D.,, 352-392-1864 ext. 183
Center for Latin American Studies; Florida Climate Institute; Tropical Conservation and Development Program

Since 2009, the TCD program's Amazon Conservation Leadership Initiative (ACLI) has developed partnerships with social actors from Brazilian universities, governmental institutions and NGO’s.  These networks are developing innovative capacity-building and academic research approaches in training Amazonian leaders for enhanced trans-disciplinary and collaborative socio-environmental management across local, regional and national scales.

Sport for Development: Using the Power of Sport to address Local and Global Development Objectives in Developing Nations. Case Study: Sports in Motion

Addison Staples,, 352-514-9975
Department of Tourism Recreation & Sport Management

Sports in Motion (SIM) is an NGO program that provides participatory sporting opportunities, sport facility restoration, and coaching education to disadvantaged communities in rural Guatemala.  Sports in Motion is just one of many Sport for Development NGOs that aims at alleviating poverty by empowering individuals, improving public health, fostering economic development and intercultural exchange, and social inclusion of the disadvantaged through the implementation of sport programs.  SIM partners and works alongside many other organizations that are local to Guatemala (Rotary Club, local Sport Boards, and public schools) communities as well as in their registered country, United States (Hearts In Motion, University of Florida, and personal donations).

Production of Biofertilizer through Biodigestion of Organic Residues to Sustain Food Security in Haiti

Reginald Toussaint, M.S.,, 352-301-1891
Dr. Ann C. Wilkie,, 352-392-8699
Department of Soil and Water Science, IFAS

This project explores the applicability of biodigestion of organic residues to the Haitian farming system to sustain food production and generate renewable energy. The preliminary step of this project was carried out at the Bioenergy and Sustainable Technology Laboratory at the Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida from 2011 to 2013 and consists primarily of designing biodigesters that are suitable for Haitian households and assessing the fertilizer value of anaerobic digester effluent. Biodigestion is a natural, microbial process that breaks down organic matter into biogas and plant nutrients. Implementation of biodigestion would promote access to energy in rural areas of developing countries including Haiti, support the growth of local economies and sustain long-term improvement in food security.

Strengthening Earthen Shelters with Engineered Synthetic Fibers

Peter Donkor,; Felicity Amezugbe,; Malarvizhi Baskaran,
Rinker School of Building Construction

In developing countries, more than half of the population resides in earthen shelters. Earthen masonry is however brittle, weak and poor in damage resilience.  In recent times, compressed stabilized earth blocks (CSEB); a stronger and more dimensionally stable masonry unit has been used in addressing some of the inherent weaknesses of earthen masonry. The present research is incorporating the traditional practice of fiber reinforcement into CSEB production but replacing natural fibers with engineered synthetic fibers that have been successfully used in the concrete industry for decades and are resistant to the alkaline environment created by using cement as a stabilizer.

Extension and Advisory Service for Women’s Groups in Jordan

Sandra L Russo, Ph.D.,; Nargiza Ludgate,;
Kristen Augustine,, 352-273-1527; Suni Brito,; Anita Anantharam, Ph.D.,

University of Florida International Center; Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research; School of Natural Resources and Environment

Funded by USAID’s Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services program, this project allows us to continue our gender research with rural women in Jordan, begun summer 2012, and in collaboration with the socio-economic division of Jordan’s National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension.  Together, we are identifying strategies to develop and strengthen social capital and examining how strengthening women’s social capital and agency can help women better utilize and share information, including agricultural extension information. Our findings will result in identifying best practices on how to effectively deliver information to rural women in the Middle East and North Africa so they can improve their livelihood strategies, increase agricultural production and thus enhance their food security.


Unveiling the Spatio-Temporal Cholera Outbreak in Cameroon: a Model for Public Health Engineering

Matteo Convertino, Ph.D,
Song Liang,
Agricultural & Biological Engineering Department-IFAS; Emerging Pathogens Institute; Environmental and Global Health Department

Here we investigate the cholera outbreak in the Far North region of Cameroon in 2010 that seen 2046 cases of infection with 241 cases at the peak of infection, and a reported case-fatality rate was 12% (600 deaths). Here, we further develop a metacommunity model predicting the spatio-temporal evolution of the cholera outbreak by incorporating long-term water resource availability and rainfall event dependent resources. 
The model can be seen as a humanitarian technology in the sense that helps to a-priori and a-posteriori management of water resource flow and use, human mobility, and of other coupled drivers facing cholera infection spreading. The model is purposely designed as a parsimonious model to be readily applicable to any country and scale of analysis facing cholera outbreaks with very few input factors to gather. Moreover, because of the generality of its structure the model can be easily tuned to different pathogen ecology types for waterborne diseases. 

A Personal Sampler for Sampling Inorganic Acids

Lin Shou,; Danielle Hall; Yu-Mei Hsu; Alex Theodore; Chang-Yu Wu,; Brian Birky
Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences; Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute; Wood Buffalo Environment Association, Canada

A personal sampling device has been developed to replace the current NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) method 7903 device for measuring the concentration of inorganic acidic aerosols and gases in occupational environment. The personal sampler consists of a parallel impactor upstream to collect particles according to human respirable convection, a porous membrane denuder (PMD) in the middle to adsorb gases and a filter pack downstream to collect small particles that penetrate the impactor and the denuder. The unit is disposable and low-cost therefore, developing countries with limited resources will also be able to afford it.

Amortization and Self-Sustained Communities

Subhankar Mishra, Ph.D.,, 352-328-2089
Computer and Information Science and Engineering

The Amortization Tool generates self-sufficient communities and self-sufficient cluster of communities in developing countries. Currently only implemented from agricultural aspect, it grows naturally and learns to build stronger communities as time progresses. Self-sustained communities are a definite answer to the current problems and hopefully we can integrate with other aspects for a stronger future.

Plant-Based Dewormers for Controlling Intestinal Parasites in Small Ruminants

Adegbola Adesogan, Ph.D.,, 352-392-7527
Miguel Zarate, MS,, 352-257-5023
K. Arriola, Ph.D.,, 352-261-6969
Department of Animal Sciences

The Barber pole worm is one of the most notorious intestinal parasites of sheep and goats causing severe anemia and death in a few days in infested animals.  This project was conducted in the UF Department of Animal Sciences in 2011 to investigate if plants or plant seeds with neutraceutical properties could be used to kill the parasite.  The increasing problem of resistance to commercially available antiparasitic drugs necessitated the search for alternatives.  Papaya seeds reversed anemia symptoms and killed 70 – 80 % of gastrointestinal parasite eggs and worms in infested goats.  Therefore, they can be used as a low cost, effective remedy to reduce gastrointestinal parasite infestation in sheep and goats in developing countries.

Detection of Tuberculosis with the Small Membrane Filter Method

Kevin Fennelly, MD, MPH,
Jennifer Hosford, MPH;
Department of Medicine

Tuberculosis (TB) is a major cause of global morbidity and mortality, even though it is a curable and preventable disease.  Unfortunately, case detection is limited by the poor sensitivity of the most commonly used diagnostic test, microscopy for acid-fast bacilli (AFB).  We hypothesized that concentrating bacilli in digested sputum samples using small (13 mm diameter) membrane filters (SMFs) that were then stained for AFB would improve detection.  In a field study in Vitoria, Brazil, we compared the SMF method to currently used methods using the first sputum sample submitted by 335 TB suspects.  The low cost method is now being evaluated in two large studies in Uganda supported by the NIH Clinical Diagnostics Research Consortium and the Médecins Sans Frontières, and another study from Brazil is in press. The SMF method has the potential to improve case detection of TB at a relatively low cost compared to other new diagnostic tests.

Algae Cultivation for the Bioremediation of Waste Streams and Production of Biomass for Fuel and Feeds

Scott Edmundson,, 352-231-4542
Dr. Ann C. Wilkie,, 352-392-8699
Soil and Water Science Department

Algae bioremediation offers an innovative method for the simultaneous remediation of waste streams and production of renewable resources in the developing world.  Algae cultivation can provide fuel and feed production independent of arable land and freshwater supplies.  Wastewaters (e.g. sewage, landfill leachate) can be used as primary nutrient sources for algae growth.  Algae simultaneously remediate the waste streams reducing their environmental impacts.  The by-product of algae bioremediation is algae biomass, which can be anaerobically digested to produce methane gas for heating and lighting applications in rural communities of the developing world.  Algae biomass can also be used as a slow release fertilizer and feed supplement for poultry and aquaculture production.  The nutrient content of algal biomass has tremendous potential in supplementing diets poor in protein and vitamin A, two components found in high concentrations in algae biomass

Low-Cost Remote Sensing Tool for Agricultural Applications in Developing Countries

Reza Ehsani, Ph.D.,; Sindhuja Sankaran, Ph.D.,
Citrus Research and Education Center, IFAS; Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Project started in 2010 at the Citrus Research and Education Center. The concept has been tested in different crops in Florida, Idaho, Oregon and foreign countries such as Malaysia and Chile. The project demonstrates how low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used for agricultural application. There are a large number of small farms in developing countries that cannot benefit from applications of remote sensing technology mainly due to the high cost. Yield loss resulting from plant stress factors such as diseases can significantly impact growers’ income and increases poverty among farmers. A simple low-cost technology can help save crop losses, thus having a positive impact on income.