University of Florida Fort Pierce professor promoted

Faculty member Patrick Chris Wilson has been promoted to the position of professor at the University of Florida after a rigorous evaluation process by UF senior faculty members and his scientific peers. The career milestone distinguishes Wilson as a lead environmental toxicologist working in the areas of aquatic toxicology and fate of organic contaminants in the environment. Dr. Wilson conducts research at UF’s Indian River Research and Education Center, in western Fort Pierce.

“Awarding the promotion to a faculty member as talented as is Dr. Chris Wilson assures that the university will continue to bring capable leadership, vision and excellence in science to provide for environmental protection of the Indian River region’s natural resources; and to help position it as one of the world’s leading sustainable agriculture production regions,” said UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center Director Dr. Peter J. Stoffella.

Dr. Wilson is a member of the university’s statewide Soil and Water Science Department. Within his program, he conducts research focusing on identifying sources of environmental contaminants, effects of contaminants on environmental resources (plants and animals), determining the fate of contaminants in the environment, and identifying methods for minimizing impacts of agricultural production on natural resources.

Lessons learned from his research program are transferred to interested stakeholders through his extension activities, including publication on the university’s Electronic Document Information System, or EDIS documents explaining water quality and aquatic toxicology issues (available free of charge at, organization of research forums for information exchange among scientists and other stakeholders, teaching workshops for extension agent professional development, and presentations of water quality-related information for numerous local, regional, state, and national horticultural and agricultural producers.

A large portion of his time has been devoted to a study, “Ecological risk assessment and mitigation”, focused on water quality as related to nutrients and pesticides. His research program was awarded more than $1.6 million over the past five years to support research focused on developing bioreactors for removal of nitrate nitrogen from contaminated water, characterization of pesticides within canals discharging into the Indian River Lagoon, and determination of the fate of emerging contaminants within agricultural systems. Sponsors have included the St. Lucie River Issues Team, through the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Dr. Wilson devotes a considerable amount of time to train graduate students seeking both master’s and doctoral degrees. He provides his graduate students with hands-on experience in the developing and conducting research projects to provide them with a better understanding of the scientific method, applications, and the discovery nature of research. He currently serves as chair, co-chair, or as a member on 14 graduate student advisory committees. His former students that have graduated are working for state colleges, private companies, and governmental organizations such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District.

“In addition to working with students with whom I have a formal link as a committee member or supervisor, I also like to work with other students who need access to our analytical equipment or who need help developing analytical methods” said Wilson. His research program has provided over 160 students with exposure to environmental toxicology and chemistry research. Current research is focusing on the impacts of mixtures of contaminants and stressors on aquatic organisms, and the fate of emerging contaminants in food production systems.

To keep his Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry program current with important and relevant issues, Dr. Wilson attends national and international scientific meetings where he also presents results from research projects. He is frequently sought after as an invited speaker at national conferences and at international events. In 2012, he instructed a short course at Nanjing University in China, and was a guest-lecturer at the University of Florida, and Zamorano University in Honduras.

The UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center is part of the university’s statewide service commitment to agricultural and natural resources. This system of support includes 12 research and education centers, and cooperative extension offices in every county. Research conducted at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center includes topics focused on environmental toxicology and chemistry, soil and water science, irrigation engineering, biological control of invasive species, citrus production, plant pathology, environmental horticulture, aquaculture and post-harvest physiology.

Dr. Wilson earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology, Master of Science in Horticulture, Weed Sciences; and Bachelor of Science in Ornamental Horticulture; all from Clemson University.

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