Stephen Luke Flory, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Agronomy

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

2019 Awardee

Luke Flory’s expertise is in the ecology of non-native invasive species. Specifically, he studies the causes, consequences and long-term dynamics of biological invasions.

“Only a small subset of introduced species become invasive,” Flory said. “Those that do, however, can have profound ecological, economic and human health impacts.”

Research by Flory and his team identifies the mechanisms underlying why some non-native species become invasive, pinpoints the characteristics of habitats susceptible to invasions and determines how invasive species affect native biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

“Growing up, I was fascinated by nature, especially plants, and I worked at a nature preserve as an undergraduate student where one of my primary tasks was to remove invasive plants (purple loosestrife and phragmites),” Flory said. “Years later, as I gained an appreciation for the scale of the problem, I focused my research on the ecology of invasive species.”

A current primary goal of Flory’s research team is to understand the long-term effects of interactions between invasive species and other potential global change drivers such as climate change, fire and pathogens. For example, an ongoing collaborative project with researchers from the Charles Darwin Research Station in Galápagos seeks to determine if emerging pathogens will suppress a widespread and problematic invasive tree over time.

Since 2015 alone, Flory has secured over $6.3 million in external grant funding from diverse sources such as the National Science Foundation, the Strategic and Environmental Research and Development program of the Department of Defense, and the joint NSF/USDA/NIH Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease program.

To date, Flory has 75 peer-reviewed publications in top science journals such as Ecology Letters, Global Change Biology, Ecology, and the Journal of Ecology. Recently, Flory helped found the Invasion Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America, and he served as chair of the section in 2018. He also serves on the editorial boards of journals such as the Journal of Applied Ecology and regularly reviews for science foundations across the globe. He was the recipient of the UF Excellence Award for Assistant Professors and was named the 2017 UF International Educator of the Year.