Principal Investigator

Clinton Jenkins |

I’m an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Environment and Director of the Brazilian Studies Program of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center. My program focuses on the conservation of biological diversity globally, with a particular emphasis on reducing the loss of rare species and ecosystems in Latin America. I have done extensive research that combines spatial modeling of species and threats with analysis of conservation policy. The aim is to direct conservation efforts toward places to save biodiversity more efficiently. I’ve completed my Ph.D. in ecology at the University of Tennessee in 2002, and I previously worked in applied conservation at a Brazilian conservation non-profit prior to joining FIU. I also runs the website for the dissemination of data on global biodiversity and I am Vice President of the conservation non-profit Saving Nature (


PhD Students

JuanSe Lozano |

Research: My current research is focused on the Amazon Riverscapes project, an initiative to assess the socio-ecological system associated with freshwater resources in the Western Amazon River tri-frontier between Perú, Colombia, and Brazil. I will perform an economic valuation of floodplain forests, assessing flood dynamics and deforestation.

About me: I am a Colombian ecologist with expertise in GIS and modeling. I’ve earned my Master’s degree in Environmental Monitoring and Modeling from King’s College London. With over 12 years of experience, I have worked closely with international NGOs, concentrating on crucial issues like water access and conservation in Latin America. My work revolves around mapping and identifying key conservation areas by merging hydrological studies with biodiversity goals. I’ve overseen projects on water stewardship, collaborating with major bottling companies to promote responsible water usage. I’ve also led an initiative to enhance the operational efficiency of existing hydropower facilities, aiming to reduce the necessity for new constructions. In 2020, driven by a passion for academic pursuits, I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and joined Florida International University (FIU) for my PhD studies.


Charlie Daria |

Research: My research is based on reintroducing the American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) to Florida. I aim to look at their local feeding ecology and ultimately find out an optimal habitat location for their reintroduction. I also aim to look at flamingo behaviors to help determine ways to increase breeding success.

About me: I am from California, and I have lived in a number of other states like Pennsylvania, Hawai’i, and Tennessee. I received my MS in Biology from Florida Atlantic University. I’ve always had a strong love for nature which led to my interests in conservation and behavioral biology. I am especially interested in applied conservation where the science is conducted with the direct aims of benefitting the species or community at hand. Some of my previous research includes assessing the effectiveness of different land restoration strategies in the Atherton Tablelands of the Australian rainforests, studying parrot behavior in local San Diego populations, and looking at how urban noise affects cognition and health in a species of songbird. I feel like my hobbies change every other day, but some of the consistent ones include exploring nature, kayaking, snorkeling, robotics, and plant keeping!

MS Students


Taylor Bonachea |

Research: My research aims to explore noise pollution through an environmental justice lens. Through the use of census data, ArcGIS Pro, and field samples, I will analyze the distributions of noise levels throughout various socioeconomic status and create an index of the study area. I ultimately plan to determine if there are any correlations between socioeconomic status and noise levels in Miami, FL.

About me: I’m a native Miamian of Cuban descent with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Florida State University.  Since my undergraduate degree, I have been interested in environmental justice; the idea that everyone be treated equally under environmental laws and exposed to the same environmental burdens as others. Historically, this has proven to be an idealistic goal, as scientific literature repeatedly displays a higher proportion of pollution being found in lower socioeconomic areas, often associated with minority populations. It is these issues that have led me to conduct my current research. Other research interests include pollution distributions, spatial analysis, and distribution of climate effects. I hope to use this degree to find a career that involves general conservation efforts, or any of the topics listed above. Aside from being a student, I work part-time in Everglades National Park as a tour guide. I also enjoy rock-climbing, running, video games, drawing, and reading, just to name a few hobbies!


Gabriel Montecchi |

Research: I studying the deforestation rates and the contamination of underground water bodies as a result of a major infrastructural reform in the region of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

About me: Prior to the age of 12, I had already lived in 5 countries. This had a major impact on my attitude and ideology, allowing me to form a strong foundation. I was born in Cuba, then lived in Italy for 3 years, then 1 year in the Dominican Republic, then lived in Mexico for 9 years. My childhood was spent in the water and the jungle, and I feel that subconsciously fortified my passion for nature and conservation. Since then, I have been living in Miami. Now I am at FIU, having already obtained my Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Sustainability and the Environment, Natural and Applied Sciences, and a minor in Biodiversity Conservation. Some of my hobbies include all types of physical activity such as basketball, tennis, volleyball. I enjoy the ocean, freediving, and snorkeling, as well as exploring my terrestrial surroundings. I also really enjoy cooking, playing guitar, and photography.


Melissa Cain |


About me: