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We provide a scholarly and social environment for the students of the FCE LTER conducting research in the Florida Everglades and adjacent ecosystems.

We support collaborative student research projects both within the FCE site as well as collaborations with all other LTER network sites. We will continue to pursue new technologies, sampling methods and ecological theories through collaboration with other LTER sites.

The FCE Student Group at the 2024 FCE LTER All Scientists' MeetingThe FCE Student Group at the 2024 FCE LTER All Scientists' Meeting

Graduate Student Executive Committee

  • FCE LTER Site Representative/President: Paige Kleindl
    Paige Kleindl

    Paige Kleindl (she/her) is a 4th year PhD candidate at FIU working with Dr. Evelyn Gaiser in the Periphyton Research Lab. Paige is examining the interactions between periphyton mats and macrophytes along the freshwater and phosphorus gradients in the Greater Everglades. She is using past FCE-LTER research to tease apart macrophyte-periphyton interactions, is conducting an observational study at FCE long-term monitoring sites, and an enrichment experiment at the new FCE Experimental sites. Paige’s interest in being the FCE student group president is rooted in her passion for creating a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible community of Everglades-related researchers and students that promotes the collaborative development of ideas, science communication, and the exploration and care for the Everglades. She is excited to collaborate with the rest of the Executive Committee to plan and lead a diversity of student-led workshops, science-focused field excursions, and community outreach.

  • Vice President: Lauren DeVito

    Lauren is a fourth year PhD Candidate in the Wetland Ecosystems Research Lab studying the impact of peat collapse on carbon fluxes in the Everglades under Dr. Tiffany Troxler. Her research seeks to answer outstanding questions regarding the biogeochemical impact of peat collapse and to aid management and restoration efforts in the Everglades. Lauren is a Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens Graduate fellow and FIU ForEverglades Scholar. As this year’s FCE vice president, she is excited to foster the FCE’s connection to the local community and ecology.

  • Secretary: James Sturges
    James Sturges

    James is a second year PhD student in the Coastal Fisheries Research Lab advised by Dr. Jennifer Rehage. James’ dissertation work broadly focuses on aquatic food web dynamics on an ecosystem scale. He is interested in niche partitioning, multichannel energy pathway coupling in food webs, and ecosystem trajectories under shifting climatic conditions. Prior to moving to Florida James completed his B.S. degree at the University of Southern California and his M.S. at California State Polytechnique University, Pomona where he used stereo-video cameras to study fine-scale fish habitat use patterns on artificial reefs. James is passionate about promoting cross-site synthesis with other working groups and LTER sites, and hopes to promote better data management by making analytic resources available to students in the LTER network.

  • Treasurer: Hanna Innocent
    Hanna Innocent

    Hanna Innocent (she/her) is a 2nd year master’s student in Dr. Evelyn Gaiser’s Periphyton Analysis Lab. She is looking at how benthic algae and phytoplankton are distributed spatially across Lake Okeechobee and how they react to variations in N:P ratios. She hopes her project will help with the ongoing efforts to manage Lake Okeechobee for many reasons, one being to provide freshwater to the Everglades. As treasurer, she is excited to help FCE fund students for various opportunities related to research and advancement. Hanna’s also looking forward to further supporting and developing the inclusiveness of the group. She’s enthusiastic about collaborating with the FCE Student Group Executive Committee and all of the members. 

  • BBC Representative: Gina Badlowski

    Gina (she/her) is a 2nd year PhD student in the Seascape Ecology Lab, advised by Dr. Rolando Santos. Gina's dissertation broadly focuses on seascape ecology and biodiversity-ecosystem function within Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys. She is interested in the drivers of spatio-temporal patterns of nektonic communities across submerged aquatic vegetation seascapes and how changes in these two components may alter ecosystem functions. Gina is originally from New Jersey, where she completed her B.S. in Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy with a minor in GIS (she loves to make maps!). She continued and earned her M.S. in Biological Sciences, where her thesis focused on the impacts of vessel noise on fish hearing. As BBC Representative, Gina hopes to bring BBC FCE students closer together to foster a greater sense of community with MMC students and the greater FCE group.

  • External Representative: Jon Gewirtzman
    Jon Gewirtzman

    Jon is a 4th-year PhD candidate at Yale University working with Dr. Peter Raymond and studying ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry. Jon studies carbon cycling in forests and coastal ecosystems, with a particular focus on tree-mediated methane emissions. Jon is currently working with the NASA Blueflux mission, and in partnership with FCE, to understand mangrove methane fluxes across scales in the Everglades. Jon is excited to help connect students beyond FIU with FCE to build and bolster research, collaboration, and community, and to help people connect with the Everglades.

  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. John Kominoski
    John Kominoski

    Dr. Kominoski is the lead principal investigator of the FCE LTER program and the faculty advisor for FCE LTER Graduate Student Group. He has been mentoring FCE LTER graduate students since joining the FCE LTER program in 2012.