Polk State College has been selected to be a recipient of a 2016 Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative grant award from the Embassy of France.
The Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of State and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development. The goal of the initiative is to strengthen the ties between the United States and France by doubling the number of students traveling abroad from each country by 2025.
Polk State College was awarded nearly $20,000 to be used toward the College’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Study Abroad Program, a semester-long program in partnership with the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane (University of the French West Indies and Guiana). The program combines online coursework with hands-on field experience on the island of Guadeloupe. Faculty from both institutions will develop curricula and fieldwork that focus on local water quality, and will facilitate ongoing collaboration, data collection, and reciprocal visits. The award includes partial travel scholarships for Polk State students, the purchase of robotic Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to use to collect water samples, and provisions for other equipment to document water quality and the overall health of the ocean environment.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Polk State students and faculty to work with the Université des Antilles to explore environmental issues in Guadeloupe and compare them to similar issues in Florida. This program is also a first step in forging a long-term relationship with the Université des Antilles.” said Logan Randolph, professor of biology at Polk State.
Students will travel to Guadeloupe for ten days in the fall of 2017. They will study terrestrial and aquatic habitats while incorporating ROVs to investigate issues related to plastic contamination, map undersea thermal vents, and collect water samples for DNA analysis (eDNA). Polk State Professor Joey Maier pioneered the use of ROV technology for local science research performed at the College. Maier, working with College and Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School colleagues, created a multidisciplinary research project resulting in the production of a short film, The Open ROV Experience, which received an Honorable Mention in the Student Film Category at the international Blue Ocean Film Festival.
The STEM Study Abroad Program is just one of the many international study opportunities offered at Polk State. A full list of scheduled opportunities can be located on the Polk State College Institute for Global Initiatives webpage. All study abroad opportunities are open to students, faculty, staff, and members of the community.
Polk State’s Institute for Global Initiatives offers campus events, study-abroad opportunities, and international internships designed to help students live and work in a globally connected society.