WINK News spoke to three soon-to-be Florida Gulf Coast University graduates who plan to leave a lasting impact on Southwest Florida’s environment.
FGCU students are often surrounded by nature; after all, half of the university’s 800 acres is restored or preserved land. That’s fitting for roommates and environmental powerhouses Ella Guedouar, Megan King, and Trinity Allen who share the aim of protecting our natural world, but in different ways.
Guedouar, a master’s student in environmental studies, focuses on nature and wildlife.
“We can learn to develop in a very sustainable and safe way and learn to make these connections with wildlife,” Guedouar said. So that both of us can coexist on the landscape and share it at the same time.”
King, a senior research assistant, is in the weeds looking at tropical activity.
“I think what I really loved about the climate modeling is I’m going to be able to predict things before they happen and help communities anticipate, you know, mega-droughts or monsoonal floods,” King said.
Allen, a graduate research assistant in The Water School, has her sights set on algae.
“How freshwater harmful algal blooms affect the local communities,” Allen said. “We proved the concept, we know that the toxins are aerosolizing. We know that even sometimes the whole cells are aerosolized.”
One more thing in common: their address.
“We have a tank in our house; it’s designated for whatever animal we decide to pick up, and they’re all invasive species,” Guedouar said. “They’re all legal to pick up.”
Some college students rescue dogs, while these three have hosted spiders, snakes, a gecko and more.
“We had a few rescue chameleons come and go at different points,” Allen said.
“Then that one unfortunately passed away due to invasive parasites,” Guedouar said.
The chameleon was saved in a bag for research.
“I’m very excited for us three to be going into the field serving as role models for young women who want to get involved in a male-dominated field,” Guedouar said of their impending graduation.
“I have had such good relationships with my professors to where some of them aren’t just professors there, I feel like they’re my friends, and they’ve taken me under their wing, they’ve guided me,” Allen said.
“They gave me everything that I need to succeed,” King said. “Without their help, I wouldn’t be able to go on to this next step in my life.”
All three young women have clear paths mapped out for their post-grad futures.
“I’m going to start my PhD in integrative biology at the University of South Florida this fall, and I’ll be studying human wildlife conflict with venomous snakes,” Guedouar said.
“A trip to Kenya doing algae research on Lake Victoria,” Allen said.
”I’m going to Ohio State University as a PhD candidate for atmospheric science; I’m going to be doing climate modeling,” King said.
While their time at FGCU is coming to an end, their future helping the environment is only beginning.