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Students

Meet our students:

  • Broadening Agriculture Science Education (BASE)

    Gabriel Barraza is senior at FIU seeking a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus in Agri-Science and a minor in chemistry. During the summer of 2017, he will be interning with the USDA Economic Research Service in Washington D.C. As a BASE scholar, he conducted research focusing on sustainable nursery practices for ornamental plant production using non-destructive optical sensors. This research took place under the guidance of Dr. Amir Khoddamzadeh and Graduate Research Assistant, Ariel Freidenreich. After graduating, Gabriel plans to pursue higher education in graduate school where he would like to focus his studies in the field of food security.

     

    Jennifer Gil-Acevedo has a bachelor's degree from University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus in Interdisciplinary Science. She completed a Post-baccalaureate Program in Washington University in Saint Louis in 2016 and is now pursuing an M.S. Environmental Studies underDr. Jayachandran

     

    Alana Rodriguez earned her first bachelor’s degree from New York University: a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is currently a senior at FIU pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus on Agri-Science as well as a Certificate in Agroecology. During the spring of 2017, she also served as the President of the Garden Club. She is currently interning in Jamaica with Yerba Buena distilling essential oils from medicinal plants under the supervision of Agape Adams. As a scholar in the BASE program, Alana performed research on the application of optical sensor technology to poinsettias in order to advise on better fertilizer management regimes under the mentorship of Dr. Amir Khoddamzadeh and Graduate Research Assistant, Ariel Freidenreich.

     

    Joelle Sasson is a junior at FIU seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a minor in Environmental Studies as well as a Certificate in Agroecology. For the summer of 2017, she obtained an internship at Les Granges in Italy where she will be learning to grow native vine species used in the production of wine, preserve produce, and raise farm animals under the supervision of Beatrice Crea. As a BASE scholar, Joelle intends to perform research comparing soil characteristics of South Florida pine rockland and hardwood hammock ecosystems under the guidance of Graduate Research Assistant, Mary Tiedeman.

     

    Leonardo Alfonso-Galtes is a junior at FIU seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and the Environment. In addition, Leonardo is interning with the Arctic Science Section of the Office of Polar Programs at the Arlington, Virginia National Science Foundation office under Dr. Anna Kerttula de Echave. During this internship, he hopes to complete research focused on assessing agricultural aspects of archaeology projects funded by the Arctic Social Sciences Program. As a BASE scholar, he is performing research assessing community gardening under the mentorship of Dr. Mahadev Bhat. Leonardo strives to obtain a plethora of knowledge in all things related to the natural environment and therefore desires to continue his studies into graduate school in the near future.

     

    Katrina Gonzalez

  • Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP)

    Chinya Bully is a senior seeking a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus on Agri-Science at FIU. She is also progressing towards the completion of a Certificate in Agroecology. During the summer of 2017, she is interning at the USDA ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Coral Gables, Florida under the supervision of Dr. David Kuhn and Barbara Freeman. As an MSP scholar, she is working on a research project developing recruitment strategies for high school and post-secondary Horticulture program throughout Miami-Dade County with guidance from Graduate Research Assistant, James Erich Dautel.

     

    Nyala Bully is double majoring in Bachelor of Science degrees in both Biology and Environmental Studies with a focus in Agri-Science. She is also enrolled in the Agroecology Certificate Program and performs research for the Multicultural Scholarship Program under the mentorship of Graduate Research Assistant, James Erich Dautel. Nyala is very interested in plant sciences and wishes to continue her future studies in the field for the purpose of eventually earning a doctorate degree.

     

    Eric Gonzalez is a Cuban-American of French descent who was raised in Miami, Florida. After graduating from the Engineering and Agriscience Academy at Coral Reef Senior High, he enrolled at FIU where he is now pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and the Environment. A year into his college studies, Eric discovered food forestry and thereafter joined the Agroecology Certificate and the Multicultural Scholarship Programs. He is currently interning with the Education Fund building community gardens for elementary schools. As an MSP scholar, he intends to research the ability of cover crops to convert naturally occurring phosphorus in the soil into a plant available form through symbiotic relationships with microorganisms under the mentorship of Graduate Research Assistant, Mary Tiedeman.

     

    Maurice Meckler is seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and has a great interest in the fields of agriculture and economics. Throughout his education and work experience, he has gained valuable knowledge in Agricultural Management by working in different countries to implement strategies which improve agricultural productivity by increasing crop yields while reducing waste and costs. He became interested in Agroecology after immersing himself in courses involving overpopulation, nutrition, climate change, and food security. He firmly believes that learning about the issues emerging between agriculture, sustainability, and the impact that the urban areas will have on the natural ecosystem is crucial and has thus devoted his studies to this path. Following graduation, Maurice would like to continue his studies further in graduate school.

     

    Rena Stern is a junior at FIU pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering and a Certificate in Agroecology. Her main interests are in the fields of water treatment and sustainable design. She is currently interning at the USDA ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale, Florida contributing to research on the biologic control of invasive air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera L.) using the Asian beetle, Lilioceres egena (Weise). As an MSP scholar, Rena plans to develop an irrigation project for the FIU Organic Garden shadehouse under the mentorship of Dr. Amir Khoddamzadeh.

     

    Sarah Acado

    Angie Fleurissaint

    Ariana Font

    Laurin Gibson

    Nikki Onuoha

  • Graduate Teaching Assistants

    Shagufta Gaffar is originally from Bangladesh, Shagufta Gaffar is a second-year PhD student in Earth Systems Science at FIU. Her research interests include soil chemistry, soil microbiology, and environmental sustainability. She is currently working on a project assessing the utilization of biochar produced from invasive species under the mentorship of Dr. Krishnaswamy Jayachandran.

    sgaff008@fiu.edu

     

    Ganesh Khadka is a PhD student at FIU under major advisor Dr. Krishnaswamy Jayachandran. He completed a Master of Science in General Microbiology focusing on environmental molecular microbiology at Tribhuvan University in Nepal. Since starting at FIU, Ganesh has taught various lab classes as a Teaching Assistant for the Department of Earth and Environment. He is currently interested in performing research on the role of soil microbiota in the agroecological sector.

    ganeshguras@gmail.com 

  • National Needs Fellowship

    J Erich Dautel, Graduate Assistant

    B.S. Environmental Studies: 2009

    Agroecology Certificate: 2009

    M.S. Environmental Studies: Est. Grad. Summer 2017

    GIS Certificate: Est. Grad Summer 2017

    Lab: ECS 157

    Major Professor: Dr. Jayachandran

    Thesis Topic: Developing Remote Sensing Techniques to Identify Flooding Stress Risk in Avocado Groves

    jdautel@fiu.edu 

     

    Ariel Freidenreich obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from FIU in the spring of 2014. She then continued her studies as a National Needs Fellow with the FIU Agroecology Program and completed her thesis: “Comparison of Synthetic Versus Organic Herbicides/Insecticides on Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi in Abelmoschus esculentes.” During this time, she also led the project: “Effects of Prescribed Burn on Pine Rockland Soil Health and Plant Communities within FIU’s Nature Preserve.” Ariel completed her Master of Science in Environmental Studies under the mentorship of Dr. Krishnaswamy Jayachandran in the summer of 2016. She is currently a PhD student under the Earth System Science program in the Department of Earth and Environment at FIU and has chosen to continue working with Dr. Jay to develop a dissertation following the path of her Masters work in sustainable agricultural soil science.

    afrei006@fiu.edu 

     

    Mary Tiedeman is a native Iowan, and received her Bachelor of Science in Agronomy and Environmental Science at Iowa State University. She completed her Master of Science degree at Iowa State University as well, specializing in Pedology, Sustainable Agriculture, and Environmental Science. The title of her thesis was "Pedogenesis of ant-colonized soils at Doolittle Prairie State Preserve, Iowa.” Mary is currently a PhD student under major advisor Dr. Krishnaswamy Jayachandran. Her research interests include phosphorus dynamics and biochemical weathering as well as mineralization in rock-plowed calcareous soils of South Florida.

    mtiedma@fiu.edu 

     

    Meghan Lenahan is a first-year Graduate Research Assistant seeking a Master of Science in Environmental Studies with the FIU Agroecology Program under the advisement of Dr. Krishnaswamy Jayachandran. Originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania, Meghan received her Bachelor of Science in Energy and Environmental Policy from the University of Delaware in 2016. For her senior thesis, she researched community engagement and mosquito control in an environmental justice neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware. Her current research interests are quite varied and include integrated pest management, soils, and environmental justice.

    mlena005@fiu.edu 

     

    Jazmin Locke, Graduate Research Assistant

    jlock025@fiu.edu 

     

    Nicholas Charles, Graduate Research Assistant

    nchar042@fiu.edu 

  • Hispanic Serving Institutions

    Thais Thiessen

    tbeck016@fiu.edu 

  • iCATCH

    Jessica Dominguez, Graduate Research Assistant

    jdomi022@fiu.edu 

     

    Christina Estela Brown, Graduate Research Assistant

    cebrown@fiu.edu 

     

     

    Anyelina Mangru is a junior at FIU pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus in Agri-Science and a Certificate in Agroecology. Since 2015, she has been interning at the USDA ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as a part of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Internship Program. As an iCATCH scholar, Anyelina contributes to research centered around the Asian beetle, Lilioceris egena, as a biological control agent for invasive air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera L.) under the mentorship and supervision of Dr. Allen Dray. She plans to continue her education and eventually earn a master’s or doctorate degree within environmental science or an agriculture related field.

     

    Brielle Murch is a junior at FIU pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and the Environment as well as a Certificate in Agroecology and a Certificate in Conservation Biology. She is learning permaculture design as an intern at Punta Mona in Costa Rica. As an iCATCH scholar, Brielle plans to focus her research on the utilization of carbon sequestering fungi for climate change mitigation under the mentorship of Agroecology Program Coordinator, Eric Betancourt.

     

    Daniel Calzadilla is a junior at FIU seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and the Environment and a Certificate in Agroecology. He is the current FIU Organic Garden Manager and is also interning at the USDA ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Coral Gables, Florida under the supervision of Dr. David Kuhn and Barbara Freeman. As an iCATCH scholar, Daniel is working on research investigating cover crops and their effects on organic matter accumulation in South Florida's calcareous soils under the mentorship of Graduate Research Assistant, Mary Tiedeman.

     

    Douglas De Stefano is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Agri-Science at FIU. Currently, Douglas is interning at the Micropropagation Laboratory at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden where he is working on the Million Orchid Project under the supervision of Dr. Jason Downing. The ultimate goal of the project is to propagate millions of South Florida native orchids for reintroduction into urban landscapes. As an iCATCH scholar, Douglas is also working on a research project in which various propagation media are being used to germinate threatened Florida native orchids. The research objective is to determine the optimal media for threatened orchid species by looking at germination rate and percentage, protocorm formation, and cell differentiation. After graduating, he plans to continue his education and possibly apply for graduate school.

     

    Emily Herrera started her higher education at Miami-Dade College where she graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in Environmental Studies during the fall of 2014. Since being admitted into FIU, she has been working on a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies as well as a Certificate in Agroecology. Emily currently works as an undergraduate research assistant in the soil/sediment biogeochemistry laboratory at FIU. She is also interning at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden working on the Million Orchid Project under the supervision of Dr. Jason Downing. As an iCATCH scholar, she has worked on research testing the level of phosphorous in soil to determine whether Stormwater Treatment Areas are functioning to properly serve and protect the Everglades under the mentorship of Dr. Leonard Scinto and Diana Johnson. Emily hopes that her time with the Agroecology Program will help to build the skills necessary to acquire a career with an agency under the USDA.

     

    Jonathan Rivera is a senior at FIU seeking a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Certificate in Agroecology. He is currently interning at Casaplanta Garden Center where he assists in planting and organic upkeep of several different kinds of vegetables including but not limited to eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, sweet basil, carrots, and radishes. By the end of the internship, over one thousand individual plants will have been grown from seeds. As an iCATCH scholar, his research will focus on determining the optimal growing conditions for radishes using various companion plants and growing mediums. After he graduates, Jonathan hopes to eventually own a nursery or possibly pursue nature photography.

     

    Leandra Gonzalez is a junior at FIU pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus in Agri-Science. As an FCCAgE student, she contributed to research on the parasitoid relationships of beneficial caterpillars at FIU as well as coffee berry bower behavior at the USDA ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland. She is currently an iCATCH scholar and is working on developing a research project to look at the impact of climate change on bee pollination at the Rocky Mountain Biological Station in Colorado under the advisement of Dr. Berry Brosi. As she furthers her career, Leandra wishes to delve into climate change issues and understand what kind of environmental repercussions may take place in terms of plant development as well as what growers can do to prepare themselves.

  • START NOW

    Claudia Garcia, Graduate Research Assistant

    cgarc382@fiu.edu 

     

    Alexander Arbelaez is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus in Agri-Science as well as a Certificate in Agroecology. He is interning at the USDA ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Coral Gables, Florida under the supervision of Dr. David Kuhn and Barbara Freeman. As a START NOW scholar, he will undergo two weeks of agricultural training in Costa Rica during the summer of 2017. Alexander is interested in researching interactions between plant systems to contribute towards more sustainable food production and better soil health in tropical environments under the mentorship of Agroecology Program Coordinator, Eric Betancourt. After graduating, he plans to use his knowledge to spread sustainable agriculture practices to local communities in order to lower dependence on foreign food imports and strengthen local social interactions and food production.

    aarbe009@fiu.edu

     

    Andres Sosa is a senior at FIU seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies following the Local and Global Environments track. He is also pursuing a Certificate in Agroecology and a Certificate in Marketing for Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. During the summer of 2017, he will be completing an internship with the USDA ARS Subtropical Horticultural Research Station in Coral Gables, Florida under the supervision of Dr. David Kuhn and Barbara Freeman. As a START NOW scholar, Andres hopes to perform research on more economically viable alternatives to vertical gardening systems currently on the market under the mentorship of Agroecology Farm Education and Outreach Coordinator, David Riera.

     

    Jordan Prats is a senior at FIU seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and the Environment and a Certificate in Agroecology. He is a member of both the Organic Garden Club and the South Florida Beekeeping Association. He has conducted research testing the inoculation of mycorrhizal fungi on seedlings to produce knowledge which can be applied towards more sustainable agricultural practices. As a START NOW scholar, he will undergo two weeks of agricultural training in Costa Rica during the summer of 2017. Following his training, Jordan would like to expand upon his previous research in order to validate his findings under the advisement of Dr. Krishnaswamy Jayachandran and Graduate Research Assistant, Ariel Freidenreich. After graduation, he plans to continue his studies in graduate school where he hopes to specialize in the field of plant breeding and maintenance.

     

    William Scally is originally from New York City, New York, William Scally is a junior at FIU seeking a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering and a Certificate in Agroecology. As an FCCAgE student, he conducted the experiment: "Capturing methane gas from agricultural waste to power a one-cylinder combustion engine." He also interned at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University working on the project: "Quantifying urban storm-water flow" under Dr. Walter McDonald and Dr. Vinod Lohani. William is currently a START NOW scholar working on a research project with Dr. Kateel Shetty, Dr. Krishnaswamy Jayachandran, and Dr. Arvind Agarwal focusing on biomaterials. In the future, he aspires to contribute towards research on methods to minimize waste pollutants in agricultural sites.

    wscal002@fiu.edu