Josette Marie La Hée
Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University
OE 167, University Park Campus, Miami, Florida, 33199
I was born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and raised in a number of countries including England, Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. I spent my formative years in the Cayman Islands and after finishing high school, I started my tertiary education at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. While I have always been fascinated by nature and have a keen interest in natural systems, various courses in ecology exposed me to the wonders of aquatic habitats and it was during this time that I developed an interest in aquatic ecology.
I completed my BSc. in Zoology and Botany in 1997, and immediately started a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) program at the same university. My MPhil thesis was a study of the effects of rum distillery effluent on the periphytic diatom community of a small river in western Jamaica and I completed the degree in 2001. This research further focused my field of interest to algal ecology and the Masters program also gave me the opportunity to gain experience in teaching.
I spent the two years following my Masters degree working at the National Environment and Planning Agency, where I gained experience in environmental policy and management, as well as community outreach and education. While I valued the experience and learned much, at the end of two years I realized that I missed the academic world and felt the need to return to research and teaching.
I therefore enrolled in the PhD program at Florida International University in 2003, and I am currently conducting my dissertation research, which is an investigation of the effects of nutrient enrichment on the periphyton community of two coastal marshes within the Everglades wetland system.
It is my intention to complete my current degree within the next two years, and subsequently pursue a research and lecturing position at a tertiary institution. My current ambition is to return to my home country of Jamaica, where I believe there is a wide scope of work that needs to be done with respect to inland and coastal aquatic habitats. I hope that in my capacity as a researcher, I will be able to liaise with decision makers and provide some input into the future of environmental management in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. By teaching at the university level I hope to assist in the process of recruiting and training young scientists who will further the cause of environmental exploration and conservation. Finally, by conducting outreach and environmental awareness programs, I hope to contribute to the education of local communities, as well as involve these communities in environmental conservation efforts and hopefully heighten their respect for the environment and their sense of responsibility towards its preservation.