The Deering Estate is becoming a living research lab for FIU conservation scientists.
FIU and Deering Estate have launched the FIU-Deering Cultural Ecological Field Station Fellowship Program to support graduate students whose dedicated research will benefit conservation management efforts at the estate, as well as broader conservation efforts in the region. This partnership, supported by $125,000 seed funding, will cover a Ph.D. student’s education and research expenses in areas of interest that could include anthropology, archaeology, ecology, environmental science and policy, hydrology, and the fine and liberal arts. The fellows will conduct research at the Deering Estate, a 450-plus-acre preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay with diverse marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats, archeological sites, geologic record, cultural collections, and active natural and cultural resource management.
"This will jump-start a program of innovative, multi-disciplinary research and training at the Deering Estate by engaging graduate students, their faculty mentors and labs in field studies of the incredible diversity of natural resources of South Florida," said Evelyn Gaiser, executive director of FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society.
The FIU-Deering Cultural Ecological Field Station Fellowship Program serves as the cornerstone of the Deering Estate’s world-class cultural and ecological field station, making it part of an international Organization of Biological Field Stations. Biological field stations provide living libraries and outdoor labs for students, researchers and others interested in the environment. They play a critical role in ensuring environmental considerations are factored into local and regional planning and development decisions.
"We couldn’t be more thrilled by the kick-off today of our new joint program," said Mary Pettit, executive director of the Deering Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Deering Estate. "Deering contains one of the most diverse natural habitat, archeological, and historical collections combined in a single site. This new opportunity is crucial for future generations."
The creation of the fellowship program comes nearly five months after FIU and the Deering Estate, along with the Deering Estate Foundation, signed a formal agreement to boost FIU faculty and student involvement in the estate through research, internships, new programs for K-12 students, and to establish competitive graduate fellowship programs and new grant opportunities. The partnership expands on the world-class research, teaching and outreach programs that comprise FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education. The college’s School of Environment, Arts and Society is home to leading environmental scientists who focus on coastal marine ecosystems, Everglades restoration and tropical biology, as well as nationally recognized writers and scholars. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to increase knowledge and develop solutions for environmental and social issues currently facing communities.
A call for fellowship applications will be made in fall 2016. The first FIU-Deering Cultural Ecological Field Station fellow will begin work in fall 2017.