Dr. Candice Lavelle, a recent UF PhD graduate and current postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Environmental and Global Health has won a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA). The award will support Lavelle’s research project, titled “Investigating the Use of Nanomaterials in Sequestration and Inactivation of Viruses in Aquaculture Systems”
The primary goal of the work is to develop a safe non-pharmaceutical based means of controlling viruses that are detrimental to the aquaculture industry. Aquaculture is an increasingly important means of meeting global food demands and the industry faces losses in the billions of dollars annually due to pathogen-related issues. There are currently only a few vaccines available and the use of antibiotics in food products is highly restricted. Lavelle is utilizing carbon-based nanomaterials to engineer prototype filters that can be used to mitigate viral infections in aquaculture operations in a safe and cost effective manner.
To complete this project Lavelle has put together a team of faculty and stakeholders to help guide the project and her career development. Her mentoring team consists of her primary mentor, Dr. Sabo-Attwood, as well as the Co-Director of the UF Aquatic Animal Health Program, Dr. Waltzek, and Dr. Saleh of the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. Importantly, Dr. Lavelle will work with the Florida Bass Conservation Center to ensure that her work is directly applicable to their needs as well as the needs of other fish culture facilities.
Dr. Lavelle recently returned from the NIFA Fellows meeting in Washington D.C. where she was able to report on the progress she has made thus far to the funding agency as well as see the results of other fellows’ work. She is excited to continue working on this project as it incorporates basic and applied science, a common theme in other projects funded by NIFA.