Messina is an agricultural economist with the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). specializing in agricultural trade, development, and marketing issues. He has been actively collaborating with faculty at the University of Havana and other universities and research institutes in Cuba since the mid-1990s, and UF/IFAS has the longest-running and most active program of collaborative research on agricultural, environmental, natural resource and marine science issues in Cuba of any U.S. academic institution.