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Swisher's Journey Through Research By: genaveve Henson & megan winfree

Dr. Mickie Swisher, Associate Professor of Sustainable Agriculture in the Department of Family Youth and Community Sciences (FYCS) and Director of the Center for Sustainable and Organic Food Systems, is always on the hunt for a solution. Swisher is passionate about the land, and her background and expertise provide a strong foundation for her work. She has a B.A from Eastern Illinois University, M.S. from Wayne State University and Ph.D. from the University of Florida -all with a focus in geography. As a professor, researcher, and science communicator, Swisher is most interested in finding answers and implementing solutions to support farmers.

“It just takes us too long to get from identifying the problem, all the way through the research process, to generating a solution that farmers can and will adopt.”

Swisher emphasizes the importance of increasing scientific speed to find good answers for agricultural production problems quickly.

By working in research and extension through being ainstructor for FYC 6800 (Scientific reasoning and Research Design) and Associate Professor of Sustainable Agriculture in the Department of FYCS, Swisher discovered her love of educating and informing others about social issues within agriculture. Her path led her to become a professor in FYCS in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) at the University of Florida (UF). Even with diverse teaching and research interests, Swisher never felt a need to leave UF and FYCS, as her department is extremely accepting of her unique work.

Swisher currently focuses her research on urban and organic agriculture.

Through her role as an associate professor, Swisher teaches graduate research techniques and guidelines to help make more scientifically sound decisions. Swisher stresses the complexity of the research process to her students.

“I am completely uninterested in your opinions, I am deeply interested in your conclusions and they are not the same thing.” -Swisher to students

Swisher described that her research consists of identifying three detailed problems, asking research participants to discuss and rank the problems, as well as determining when participants make decisions based on science. Swisher then shares and publishes her research conclusions through media outlets such as websites and standard publications as well as organization around the world, including the UF Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS).

"I AM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST IN SERVICE OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENTIST."

Swisher also examines impacts of misinformation in the agricultural industry. When she is asked negative questions or hears common misconceptions about current practices, her response is always “show me the evidence”.

In addition to her work with misinformation, Swisher deals a lot with consumer preferences. In a 2013 study done with consumer preference on broccoli, she surveyed participants on whether or not they would pay more for organically grown broccoli. Through using a survey, it was revealed that consumer would pay a higher price even if the health benefits were unknown to them.

“I want them to make wise decisions, and if you lead people down a path on one side, it will just get reflected on the other side. I want people to think through it.”

When asked if there was anything that she felt needed to be said to the public about issues facing the industry, her response was, “I hope people understand the sense of urgency of getting really good answers out to people quickly”

Swisher traveling around the world and plans to continue to investigate agricultural issues for as long as possible. She hopes her work has lasting impact and said, “You know the quote that says if you do something you love you never work a day in your life? That’s me.”

In her free time, Dr. Swisher enjoys taking long walks and finding different types of greens at speciality grocery stores. She has eaten over 47 varieties of greens.

To learn more about Dr. Swisher’s research visit https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_a12012550

Selfie with our Scientist! On the left is Megan Winfree, a UF undergraduate senior studying Agricultural Education and Communication. In the middle is Genaveve Henson, a UF undergraduate senior studying Agricultural Education and Communication. On the right is Dr. Mickie Swisher, professor in CALS Family, Youth, and Community Sciences Department.