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Meet our Alumni:

  • David Trujillo

    David was brought on to the program through a USDA/FIU high school internship where he conducted research under graduate student supervision in the field of Agroecology. Once enrolled at FIU, David was awarded a four year USDA Multicultural Scholars Program Scholarship of $24k. During this time he assisted in the development of the FIU Organic Garden, now awarded USDA’s “People’s Garden”. He also contributed his time on several topics such as Horticultural Therapy, Native Buffers, Agro-Forestry, Organic Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture but he is best known for his work in the fields of Urban Agriculture and Spirituality.

    David majored in Environmental Studies with a second major in Religious Studies. Under the MSP grant he created a community garden in Pembroke Pines, FL at Medicine Signs Spiritual Center, a Universalist Church where he was later ordained as Reverend. On campus he created a Meditation garden where he would invite various student clubs to enjoy and relax while practicing agro ecological techniques. The connection between spirituality, agriculture and ecology really motivates him to create projects focused on Food Security while taking into account social dynamics and economic sustainability.

    David participated in local projects such as assisting in the creation of a community garden at a North Miami nursing home through Catholic Health Services. David also contributed time towards budgeting and initial garden plans for the Education Effect, a $1 Million Grant from CHASE Bank given to FIU towards curriculum development and creation of an Organic Garden and Aquaculture Lab at Miami Northwestern Senior High School. David was hired as head grower at Roots in the City in Overtown Fl. He also helped create UrbanGro INC a green space designing company. David incorporated his own company, Farmer Dave CORP, dedicated to sustainable urban agriculture.

    Outside of Florida, David was selected for two Summer HACU Internships with the USDA Forest Service. First internship was with the Forest Service RMRS Albuquerque lab in New Mexico, where he assisted various researchers on topics ranging from climate change, post fire studies, reintroduction of endangered species and sociology. On his second internship he worked with the Forest Service Washington office with the Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air and Rare Plants Staff Area.

    Currently David is a CHLI Global Leaders intern with the US House of Representatives, working with Rep. Henry Cuellar from the 28th district of Texas at his Washington Office. During this time he will be studying at George Washington University as part of the Semester in Washington Politics Program. In efforts to expand his skills and experience abroad, he is a Fulbright Research Candidate planning on researching Urban Agriculture in the Western Hemisphere. David plans on going onto graduate school for a career in Agronomy, Horticulture, Agroforestry/ecology, Agribusiness, or Agricultural Leadership. We wish him the best and are proud of his continued success in the field of Agriculture. 

  • Nasser Brahim

    Nasser Brahim is a member of the first cohort of Agroecology certificate recipients. After completing his studies at FIU, he worked at the Florida Department of Transportation's planning and environmental management office in charge of infrastructure in Miami and the Florida Keys. He went on to complete his Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. While at Yale, he focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation, serving a variety of clients in the public, private and non-profit sectors. He is now working in Washington DC at the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) - the largest international climate finance partnership in the world - housed in the World Bank. He helps the 49 developing countries participating in the CIF by documenting emerging knowledge and facilitating South-South exchanges on low carbon, climate resilient development. 

  • Luke Thema

    B.S degree in environmental studies with a specialization in environmental biology. Under my degree, I am also pursuing certificates in both agroecology and conservation biology. Currently my area of focus is biodiesel production, where I am converting the waste vegetable oil that is produced on campus into useable biodiesel. 

  • Klara Scharnagl

    Major/Education Background: MSc Earth and Environment/Agroecology 2013
    BA University of Chicago/History and Philosophy of Science 2010. 

    Research Interests: Mycology, particularly the study of the mechanisms of fungal symbioses and their ecological implications. Current thesis work on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in south Florida pine rocklands; their community composition, their interactions with legume hosts and rhizobial co-symbionts, and their ability to assist plant hosts with salt stress tolerance. 

  • Nall I. Moonilall

    Major: B.S. in Environmental Studies Minor: Biology Certificates: Agroecology Biodiversity and Conservation Management

    My research interest lies within the field of agronomy (crops and soil) with an emphasis on agroecology. My previous research focused on alternative growing media for plants. I conducted a study looking at the effects of composted insect rearing waste (from fruit fly rearing) on ornamental plants. My next research will be focus on the effects of sun/shade on growth of young palm trees. These studies would help me to better understand plant production and soil conservation. It will also give me an insight on how we could better protect our environment.

    Research Video 

  • Andrew Jungman

    Master's in Environmental Studies
    Education background: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from FIU

    I am a senior masters student getting ready to defend my thesis in the fall of 2012. Over the last 3 years I have gained countless hours of experience in the production of biofuels through the Agroecology Program at FIU. As well as knowledge in the fields of sustainable agriculture, agroecology, conventional agriculture, environmental science, soil science, urban farming and organic farming. For my masters thesis I examined the use of Simarouba glauca or paradise tree as a feedstock for the production of biodiesel using a community scale production model at the University of Agriculture Science in Bangalore, India. I have also had the unique opportunity to mentor and teach several students through the Agroecology Program at FIU. 

  • Thelma Velez

    Major/Education Background:
    M.S. Environmental Studies
    B.A. Anthropology/Sociology, Minor-Religious Studies, Certificates-
    Agroecology & Environmental Studies @ FIU

    Research Interests: My undergraduate research focused on the social implications and ecological costs of modern agricultural practices when compared to sustainable food production methods and how individuals perceive their impact on the environment based on everyday food choices. My Master’s thesis research, “Measuring the Impact of Melaleuca quinquenervia Biochar Application on Plant Growth, Soil Quality, and Microbial Gas Flux”, focuses on sustainable agriculture invasive species management, soil quality management, & reducing carbon emission from agricultural land. 

  • Haydee Borrero

    BS Environmental Studies, Certificate Agroecology, Certificate Conservation Biology, Minor in Biology.

    My main interests are in restoration ecology, conservation biology, and plant-animal interactions. I have worked under Dr. Suzanne Koptur looking at Florida native bees pollinating crops at FIU's Organic Garden on Campus. Currently, I am working with Dr. Hong Liu, looking at varying fruit set of wild orchids in the Yachang Orchid Nature Reserve in the North-West Guanxi province in China

    Botanical Society of America Awards 2012

    Botanical Society of America Conferences

    FIU News Article 

  • Adonis Alvarez

    Currently, I am at the Vegetable and Forage Crop Research unit located in Prosser, Washington assisting Dr. Hal Collins on his research concerning the carbon sequestration potential of different varieties of switchgrass intercropped with poplar trees. Not only will the study evaluate the ability of switchgrass to mitigate climate change, but it will also examine how soil conditions are affected by the intercropping of two perennial species. 

    My own research back home deals with the installation of a biodigester at FIU’s Organic Garden. The system, known as Sistema Biobolsa, was designed in Mexico and has been used extensively by farmers to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. The biodigester will convert waste, in this case goat manure, into methane gas that can be used for cooking and heating. This conversion is made possible by anaerobic digestion; a process in which microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen. In addition to creating a sustainable fuel source, this process also eliminates the need for additional landfill space by reducing the amount of waste left over from agricultural production. Also, the methane emitted by animal waste warms the Earth far more than carbon dioxide emissions. 

  • Vanessa Sanchez

    A.A. Miami Dade College- Biology
    B.A. St. Thomas University- Biology

    Vanessa's research includes characterizing rhizobial diversity in legumes from pine rocklands in South Florida, plant molecular biology, and plant tissue culture. Vanessa is a USDA National Needs Fellow under a grant from USDA to the Agroecology Program. 

  • Eliana Cordoba

    Environmental Studies (major) + Agroecology (Certificate)
    International Relations (major) + National Security (Certificate) 

    Preferences: Water and Species Conservation. Ecosystems are deeply connected, no single element could be preserved unless it is planned from many sources of knowledge and from a large frame of space and time. Economy is among other socio-political aspects (including sciences) the global measurement of development, and indeed there is not prosperous economy without healthy natural resources. Citizens and policymakers should understand that preserving the balance and health of our Earth is more important than any short term profit. It is time to think globally, beyond geographic and religious boundaries, as everyone and every act is important towards a common goal of a harmless habitation of our planet. The love for our planet should be bigger than the love to ourselves, as we exist through nature, we are never alone, we are a product of evolution and the only species that carries on preservation as an option, not as an instinct. I am in the pursuit of internships, projects and community engagement experiences. 

  • Daniella Vargas

    Major/Education Background: Biology with certificate in Agroecology 

  • Cristina Urbina

    Bachelor on Art in Environmental studies with certificate in Agroecology and Resource Management-policy.

    Her background in Architecture opened the doors of important Landscape Architecture firms in Miami. After working for a couple of years, she learned about native plants, their use, installation and maintenance in the Miami landscape. As she was getting involved with south Florida natives and its environment, she got various certifications from The University of Florida – Miami Dade County extension, The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and Miami Dade College, to name just a few.

    Her education includes trainings in plant identification, safety equipment, pesticide applications, soil moisture, and horticulture in general. She is working towards a Horticulture Specialist and Horticulture Professional Certificate at the Landscape Technology Program from MDC. In addition, she is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Art in Environmental Studies with a certificate on Agroecology and a specialization on Resource Management-policy at FIU. 

  • David Laws

    David Laws was the Garden Manager at Florida International University's Organic Garden. David is a senior finishing his BA in Environmental Studies with a certificate in Agroecology. He has been farming since 2008, getting his start at the Diamond X Ranch in Madras, OR. Since then he's farmed at Paradise Farms in Homestead, FL, Hey Bayles! Farm in Lorane, OR and Verde Gardens in Homestead. Organic Farming and Permaculture are his life's calling and he has just begun a life long dream, living on and developing a five acre farm and ecovillage in Davie, FL.

  • Arturo Daniel Castellon

    Name: Arturo Daniel Castellon
    Major: Environmental Studies
    graduation: Summer 2014
    Degree: Environmental Studies
    USDA Agency of interest: ARS

    Career experience/location: I have done two internships with the USDA. The first internship was with APHIS PPQ at Miami international Airport working on nematodes and plant fungi. The second internship was with the ARS were I worked with mango, avocado and sugarcane.

    Description of career experience (what I learned): With APHIS PPQ I learned how to extract nematodes from soil samples so that they could be identified. I also learned how to isolate plant fungi and identify with high power microscopes. I learned how to photograph nematodes and fungi with microscope cameras. With the ARS I learned about tropical fruit trees and their genetics.

  • Bianca Bonilla

    Mentor: Bradley Bennett

    I am majoring in Environmental Studies B.S. with certificates in Agroecology, Horticulture and Biodiversity Conservation. I am interested in research supporting and combining sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation. I have a strong interest in tropical agriculture and its impact on creating sustainable livelihoods. Other interests include ethnobotany and environmental education. As an undergraduate researcher at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, I am currently evaluating sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) cultivars by looking at their morphological and horticultural characteristics. I am also assisting in creating a database for the in situ collections at Miami-Dade County’s Fruit and Spice Park. 

  • William Granda

    Major/Education Background: Environmental Science/Agro-ecology Specification in Soil Conservation

    Research Interests: I am interested in the study and conservation of soils. I have completed an Internship term with the USDA/NRCS and have obtained many skills in the field of Soil Conservation, including ArcGIS Mapping, Conservation plans, Tool Kit, Contract Builder. I’m also interested in new more innovative ways of farming. Therefore I’m currently working on an independent study project that focuses on Aquaponics. Aquaponics is the research and study mixture of an Aquaculture and Hydroponics. 

  • Miles Medina

    Miles Medina is a second-year Agroecology graduate student pursuing a M.Sc. in Environmental Studies. His thesis research examines nutrient dynamics and fish and plant productivity in aquaponic culture systems and is motivated by an interest in urban agriculture, closed-loop production, and food security. During his first year as a graduate student, Miles served as manager of the FIU Organic Garden and as a member of the FIU Sustainability Committee. His poster won first prize in the poster contest at the 2012 USDA-HSI conference. Prior to enrollment at FIU, Miles earned a B.S. in Business Administration/Management at the University of Florida, 2005. 

  • Daniella Goveia
  • Daria Boglaienko

    Research Interests: Buckwheat as a cover crop in South Florida 

  • Audrey Becnel

    Master of Science, Florida International University. Miami, Florida.
    MAJOR: Environmental Studies

    Bachelor of Arts, University of Florida. Gainesville, Florida. May 2012
    MAJOR: Environmental Science
    MINOR: Soil and Water Science 

  • Melanie Vasquez

    Name: Melanie Vasquez-Parrado
    Major: B.S. Environmental Studies

    Graduation: August 2014
    Degree: Bachelor of Science
    USDA Agency of interest: Agricultural Research Service- ARS, Forest Service, Wildlife Services

    Career experience/location: During my time in the Agroecology Program, I was fortunate enough to become a summer intern at the Subtropical Horticulture Research Station as a part of the USDA-ARS agency located in Pinecrest, Florida.

    Description of career experience (what I learned): While interning at the ARS, I worked in a variety of projects which included work such as phenotypic data collection of mango cultivars in the Curatorial Lab, to venturing out into the field, where species collections took place.

  • Ramon Salazar

    I joined FIU Agroecology Program as a USDA-National Needs Fellow on fall 2012. Since that time the diverse educational and social activities of the program have been an enriching life experience. Some of these activities include the opportunity to get involved in FIU Organic Garden and Farmer’s Market community activities, presenting the program work to international visiting group of students, and taking part of multiple farm/field trips. In the educational aspects, the program courses, symposium, readings, workshops, and administrative personnel support have played an important role in my professional development.

    I am currently working towards my Master's Degree at FIU Department of Earth & Environment after earning a B.S. in Environmental Technology at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. My general interests are in forest/plant ecology, management and restoration. I am currently working my thesis research focused on leaf functional trait variation of tree species and forest structure along precipitation gradients in the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico tropical dry forests. My thesis research advisor is Dr. Michael Ross. 

  • Nina De La Rosa
  • Rosario Vidales

    My name is Rosario Vidales, and I am a junior in the Environmental Studies B.S. major and the Agroecology certificate program. My interests include sustainable food production, gardening and entomology, which I have developed through my related experiences in plant-animal interactions and entomology lab-work.

    I have completed three entomology related internships with the United States Department of Agriculture under the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, and Agricultural Research Service agencies.

    My current undergraduate research involves the introduced Euglossa viridissima species (which has been detected in Southern Florida) and the possible economic effects of its pollination of androeuglossophilous orchids (perfume orchids) due to the possibility of petal withering or abscission.

    Professional Experience

    Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD
    Internship –USDA-ARS- Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory
    Impact of native and exotic plant complexes on pest and natural enemy populations in managed urban landscapes.

    Florida International University and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, FL
    Undergraduate Research
    Presence of Euglossa viridissima, and its effect on Clusia lanceolata fruit set.

    United States Department of Agriculture
    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: Plant Protection and Quarantine, Miami, FL
    Internship—USDA-APHIS PPQ Plant Protection Station
    Identification of differences within the Rhopalotria insect genus.

    United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Miami, FL
    Biological control of Pink Hibiscus Mealybug. 

  • Edy Cicilio

    Major: Environmental Studies BS; Sociology/Anthropology BA (Sociology Track)
    Graduation: Fall 2014
    Degree: Bachelor
    USDA Agency of interest: Forest Service (FS)

    Career experience/location: As an FCCAgE student I had the opportunity to intern and maintain ongoing research with the Center for Renewable Carbon (CRC) in the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

    Description of career experience (what I learned): During the two-month summer internship with the CRC I participated in innovative biofuels research having to do with the genetic improvement of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) for increased lignocellulosic ethanol yield. I learned how to perform impact resistance tests, using a pendulum-style impact tester, to determine the effects to plant physical properties of switchgrass that was genetically modified to reduce the lignin content and improve saccharification efficiency for better ethanol production.

  • Sean Pena

    Major: Biology
    graduation: April 2015
    Joined USDA FCCAgE program on February 2014

    Skill set: Computer skills - Presentational skills - Organizational skills - Laboratory experience - Precision in pollinator capture Career Experience: Since December 2012, I have been a research lab assistant in the Ecology research lab assisting Beyte Barrios, a PhD candidate, with her research under the guidance of Dr. Suzanne Koptur. Current member of the eleventh cohort of the McNair Fellowship.

    Description of career experience: Projects we have undertaken include examining herbivory damage on the leaves of the pineland golden trumpet (Angadenia berteroi) in the field, observing pollination syndromes of the flowers, performing hand pollinations on flowers cultivated in the FIU greenhouse, seed germination experiments and fragmentation experiments.

  • Christopher Lucas Estevez

    Career Experiences

    Ipreo, Research Analyst and Quality Analyst. New York, NY 2012- 2013
    Managed contacts and outreach with counter parties to meet the compliance needs of clients. Provided in-depth information about new compliance issues to clients and counter parties, via email and phone. Worked with a team to keep critical data current, for clients. Managed offshore team and developed new workflows to improve client outreach. Researched and analyzed SEC filings and pricing sheets for critical deal information.

    New York City Council, Legislative Intern, New York, 2011-2012
    Coordinate outreach to constituents and organize cultural and informational events. Met with community and government stakeholders on councilwoman’s behalf. Generate comprehensive reports on community issues and legislation. Research legislative and budget topics critical to the city and district affairs as well as letter writing in response to constituent letters and emails.

    New York Legal Assistance Group, Paralegal Intern, New York, NY, 2011
    Compiled case materials, legal research, scheduled appointments, and translated documents. Filed applications including relative petitions, VAWA, U-Visas, Employment Authorization, and review ETA9098 cases. Managed major grants, developed metrics, collect data and reported progress and success rates to city and state agencies

    Perception of Agriculture

    It has been my experience that policymakers and scientists have difficulty communicating with one another. Scientists are focused on the micro-level questions, while policymakers are focused on macro-level issues. The need to make scientific research relevant and impactful has motivated me to study subjects that involve both perspectives; macro-level economics and international relations as well as micro-environmental sciences.

    Career Experiences broadened your employment opportunities

    I am pursuing my master’s degree in Environmental Science in order to expand my understanding of the science and the environment. I hope that my time at FIU will allow me to better the science behind formulate policy at both the national and local level.

    Career and Research Aspirations

    My career goals are to work in the formulation of policy as it relates to agriculture, the environment and economics. This requires an interdisciplinary understanding of the issues as well as an understanding of politics and policy making.

    Rank: Graduate
    Graduation: 05/2015
    USDA Agency of interest: ERS, NRCS, FSA
    Skills: Research-Legal Research- Spanish- Policy Analysis-Grant Writing- Microsoft Office-

  • Herma Pierre

    Education: Chemistry, B.S. and Certificate in Agroecology

    Major: Environmental Studies

    Research Interests: Quantitative analysis of compounds that defend against anthracnose development in mangoes (Mangifera indica L.) 

  • Paula Salazar

    Major: Environmental Studies, BA Certificate: Agroecology Rank: Senior

    Career Experience/Location: I currently work as an intern with Broward County, Solid Waste and Recycling Services Department. I help manage the Household Hazardous Waste Program that the county offers to different cities. This past summer, I was able to complete an internship with U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Natural Resources Conservation Services in Defiance, Ohio. During my internship, I was able to assist on various projects, including develop, implement and maintain conservation plans to landowners. I have also volunteered at U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Agricultural Research Station located in Coral Gables, FL assisting on the fruit characterization program, including mangos and avocados, and collaborating on outreach events. Additionally, I have completed different internships and projects relating to the importance on biodiversity conservation and community engagement.

    Description of Career Experience (What I Learned): My career experience has helped me not only apply my knowledge in the environmental field but also broadened my knowledge by attending different trainings and experiential learning trips. During these different events, I was able to study the different agricultural systems in California and Milan, Italy, learned from the administrative component, different research skills to the customer service to various landowner and private contractors. These experiences have helped find my passion towards the environment and agriculture.

    What is your perception of agriculture now: Agriculture has been and still is the fundamental key to sustain human life and the future. Although for the past years, humans have been exploiting nature’s resources. The relationship between organisms and their environment or Sustainable agriculture grow is the main key to our future.

    How has this career experience broadened your employment opportunities? Due to my previous volunteer experience at the USDA at ARS and my persistence passion and motivation towards the environment, I was able to obtain the internship with NRCS this previous summer. Additionally, I was sponsored to travel to California to learn its advance agricultural system and Milan, Italy to attend to the world’s fair, EXPO 2015 Milano focused on Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, and European Food Safety Authority’s 2nd Scientific Conference.

    Career and Research Aspirations: My career aspiration is to combine my educational and experiential experiences to make a change in today’s society. I believe that the balance from our past experiences and our current technology is the solution to our current and future’s agricultural and environmental issues. Also, I would like to educate others on the importance of conserving the environment and possibly assist others on conservation practices. 

  • Stephany Alvarez-Ventura

    Stephany Alvarez-Ventura was the Agroecology Program Coordinator in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University. Ms. Alvarez-Ventura received both her BS (09’) and master’s degree (11’) in environmental studies, along with a certificate in Agroecology and Conservation Biology, from Florida International University. Her thesis analyzed the impacts of Neem oil and Amitraz mixtures to control Varroa destructor of Apis mallifera colonies in different agricultural systems of South Florida. She’s appeared in various local newspaper and news channel interviews discussing the importance of sustainable agriculture and presented on education in agroecology. She guided the development of the Biofuels Synthesis Report from her recent trip to India, focusing on water sustainability in biofuel production. Ms. Alvarez-Ventura currently coordinates the advancement of the new Florida-Caribbean Consortium of Agricultural Education and Hispanic Workforce Development (FCCAgE) grant from the US Department of Agriculture. 

  • Jatnna Alvarez

    Major/Education Background: Geosciences- atmospheric sciences track
    Research Interests: Since I am studying atmospheric science, I wanted to find a project which can connect the climate and agriculture. With the help of Dr. Robert Burgman, I formulated a project aimed at understanding the relationship between land use changes and climate. In this project I am using GIS (Geographical Information Systems) to create maps which will tell me information regarding changes in land to cropland and how that affects the climate in the area. It may affect it temporarily, permanently if large enough, or possibly not at all, it all depends on the original ecosystem or land type originally there and the type of cropland. 

  • Jevon Saunders

    My name is Jevon Saunders a senior majoring in sustainability and the environment at Florida international university. During my time at this institution I was able to become apart of the Argroecology Program as a multicultural scholar. Being in the program have taught me so much since I first decided to join. My aspiration is to be apart of the USDA water management facility where I will further my knowledge in an agricultural manner. My dream is to see someday where the world will stay on a path of sustainability and healthy living.

  • Cierra Campbell

    I am currently in The School of International Public Affairs working towards two bachelor’s degrees; one in Anthropology and the other in Geography with a certificate in Agroecology. I am interested in Food Security/Food Sovereignty in the Caribbean, specifically in my country of heritage, The Bahamas. Through the MSP program I plan to thoroughly obtain historic and present information as well as future possibilities within the agricultural realm in The Bahamas. With this information I desire to publish a book on this topic. The amount of material out there in relation to Bahamian agricultural practices/food security is very limited and of the few found they are all outdated. Throughout my life, academia, volunteer and/or my career work I will dedicate my best effort in this area. 

  • Luis Garbinski

    My name is Luis Garbinski and I am a second-semester freshman who recently became part of the Agroecology program at FIU. I am doing a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies and I joined the program not only to graduate with the certificate, but to also gain useful experience in the different fields of my major. I am hoping that in the near future I will find a career path through the research opportunities the program offers. 

  • Mariah Redmond

    Mariah became an FCCAgE scholar in 2013. She is graduating from FIU in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry with Environmental Focus and her certificate in Agroecology

    Research Experience: Redmond conducted a 10-week research study at Virginia Tech during summer 2014. The National Science Foundation sponsored her fellowship in its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program: Interdisciplinary Water Sciences and Engineering. Mariah helped to develop a phosphorus (P) fractionation procedure, which was used to extract P from reservoir sediment. She observed the bioavailability and mobility of different forms of P in reservoir sediment. The study was particularly interesting because the field site (Falling Creek Reservoir in Bedford County, Virginia) has an oxygenation system installed. Redmond was able to determine that the oxygenation system is effective at mitigating P release into the water column from sediment.

    Community Engagement: Last year Mariah served as a team leader with Urban Paradise Guild, working biweekly with the nonprofit organization. She helped to construct community gardens and biological habitats at several locations in South Florida, including Oleta River State Park, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, and Lemon City in Little Haiti. Seed bombing remains one of her hobbies, and her pollinator-loving flower of choice is native blanket flower.

    “The FCCAgE grant and Agroecology program at FIU have turned my love for nature into hands-on career development. My advisors work closely with me to find lab projects relevant to my personal interests in biogeochemistry. I am also engaged in gardening projects on campus; learning to grow vegetables and herbs has been exciting and rewarding. My favorite thing to harvest is moringa leaves, which I use in my homemade organic tea blends.”

    Current Perception of Agriculture: “The United States faces a severe and multifaceted crisis, but I believe in a brighter tomorrow. The socio-economic impacts of sustainable agriculture gleam brightly with abundant hope. With my sweat, I vote for a sustainable future. With the help of FCCAgE, I dedicate my career to solving the problems of today.”

    Career & Research Aspirations: Mariah aspires to be an industry analytical chemist, focusing on quality assurance. 

  • Joshua Munoz

    Hometown: Miami, FL

    Rank: Sophomore

    Major: Environmental Studies, BS

    Career experience/location

    I am currently interning at LNB Farms in Homestead, FL as a student and researcher of Vermiculture Systems Design and Organic Fruit Tree Management.

    Description of career experience (what I learned)

    This career experience has offered me the unique and challenging experience to successfully design a large Vermiculture System for a fruit tree farm with the materials available on site which led to efficient improvisation and creativity. I have had the opportunity to make connections with farmers and specialists that share my common goals and interests.

    What is your perception of agriculture now

    Agriculture is, and should be, respected as the central pillar of society and systems as it forever holds its place under the most important activity we partake in three times a day – eating, a title that few other pillars can claim.

    How has this career experience broadened your employment opportunities

    This career experience has opened the doors to the field of Vermiculture which is relatively new and is increasingly growing in demand as farmers and entrepreneurs realize the value of vermicompost and the quicker production time of vermiculture as opposed to traditional composting methods. I believe this experience will demonstrate that I am ready and up-to-date with the quickly changing field of Agriculture.

    Career and research aspirations

    My career aspirations include running a Community Supported Agriculture farm, designing food forest landscapes, empowering communities with size-efficient gardens, and entering academia as an updated professor in Agriculture. My research aspirations include tropical systems composting, tropical agroforestry for small farms, vermiculture methods, soil conservation and regeneration of soil microbial life. In 5 years I see myself working for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in any of their many engaging sections. In 10 years I see myself running a farm and empowering incoming farmers to farm in a closed-loop system without the need for chemical inputs through proper management of natural resources. 

  • Jessica Herrera
  • Monica Alarcon

    Monica is pursuing a double major in Anthropology and Geography in the Global Sociocultural Studies Department. Her interest in environmental justice is what drove her to enroll in the Agroecology certificate program. Agriculture is the second most environmentally impactful human activity (only after mining and the extraction industries.) Through this program, and her mixed methods research on Miami-Dade County's local food system, Monica hopes to better understand the dynamics that govern and influence a society's relationship to the production, distribution and consumption of food, and thus the environment. She plans to further her education and obtain a PhD in food systems studies so as to bring about more sustainable processes in the production and consumption food. 

  • Nicholas Paseiro

    Major: Sustainability and the Environment, BA

    Certificates: Agroecology

    Career Experience/Location: After recently completing a summer internship with the USDA- Natural Resource Conservation Service, I was able to gain hands on experience working in partnership with government officials and the American people. Prior to this I have been working as a Veterinary assistant for the past 8 years in Miramar, FL. Currently, I sell honey out of my apiary as I strive to complete my B.A.

    Description of Career Experience (What I Learned): Through my work experience I have learned how to effectively engage clients, and conduct business in an equitable and just fashion while maintaining the values of the company. My career experience has shown me how to love the work you do. In today’s society job possibilities are diverse and it takes courage to take step out of your comfort zone in order to find out where you can excel.

    What is your perception of agriculture now: Agriculture is today’s system of hunting and gathering. Societies are dependent on our agricultural system and we need new innovative minds in order to ensure that this system will remain strong for centuries to come. The potential our agricultural system holds is very promising and I feel this should be a top priority for our generation.

    Career and Research Aspirations: My career aspirations are to enjoy and be proud of the work I accomplish. To work with the environment to discover and provide scientific data that can be utilized for the benefit of our planet and its inhabitants. I hope to spend more time researching honey bees to benefit the species as well as discover new benefits that they provide for us. 

  • Eric Betancourt

    Education Background: Master of Science in Environmental Studies graduate

    My graduate studies were funded by the National Needs Fellowship with my thesis project involving evaluation of the effectiveness of several alternative techniques for controlling the troublesome weed purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus). Concentration treatment effects for the allelopathic seed powders of watercress and turnip were tested in a field trial while seed powders of yellow mustard and sunflower were tested in a potted trial. The allelopathic amendments were found to significantly delay weed emergence but long-term effectiveness was hindered by several factors while Roundup provided the best season long control of the weed. I currently work as the lab manager of the Agroecology, Soil-Plant-Microbiology, and Soil-Plant Analytical laboratories at Florida International University. 

  • Brittany Harris
  • David Riera

    Growing up in Hialeah, Florida and serving in the Marine Corps in the U.S. and Iraq kept David Riera close to nature throughout his early life. He earned an Associate of Science degree in Biotechnology from Miami-Dade College and two Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Studies and Marine Biology from FIU. As part of his graduate research, he worked with Dr. Amir Khoddamzadeh to develop a method to conserve endangered wetland orchid species using a plant biotechnological approach and was awarded his Master of Science in Environmental Studies in the Spring of 2017. David has given back to the community by establishing a summer research outreach program mentoring at-risk high school students which works to pass on practical research skills. He is a Student Member to the Board of Directors for the Society of Wetland Scientists and serves as the current President of both the MANRRS club as well as the new South Florida Beekeeping Association at FIU. He fervently believes that the path to conserving and restoring our natural capital can be achieved by cultivating the next generation of advocates, innovators, and educators. David currently serves as the Agroecology Program Farm Education and Outreach Coordinator acting as the agribusiness community outreach officer across Florida as well as host for training and educational workshops. In the fall, he will be starting a PhD program in Curriculum and Instruction with a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) focus under the FIU College of Education. 

  • Emmanuel Duarte

    Emmanuel Duarte graduated from FIU with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus in Agri-Science as well as a Certificate in Agroecology in the spring of 2017. As an MSP scholar, he served as the FIU Organic Garden Manager during the summer of 2016. During the spring of 2017, he interned at Fruit & Spice Park where he helped to update mapping of plants currently growing in the park. He also worked on a project assessing the anti-microbial properties of medicinal plants under the guidance of Dr. Amir Khoddamzadah. Emmanuel currently plans to apply to graduate school with the hopes of studying Plant Chemistry. 

  • Jacquelyn Amie Esteves

    Amie Esteves received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus in Agri-Science and a Certificate in Agroecology from FIU in the spring of 2017. She was both a BASE and an iCATCH scholar and served as the FIU Organic Garden Manager from the fall of 2016 until her graduation. She also maintained an active status in clubs as the Treasurer for the Organic Garden Club while harvesting and delivering fresh local organic produce to be sold at the FIU Farmers' Market and the Department of Earth and Environment. Amie is now an aspiring farmer who hopes to continue studying the ecology of farming systems and conservation biology.

  • Sheila Lopez

    Sheila Lopez graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Certificate in Agroecology. She was a highly active member of the Organic Garden Club, MANRRS, and the South Florida Beekeeping Association. She also completed an internship with the USDA ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Coral Gables, Florida under the supervision of Dr. David Kuhn and Barbara Freeman.