Jennifer Gil-Acevedo – 2018-2019, Research, Panama
Hola! My name is Jennifer Gil-Acevedo and I am an environmental scientist from Puerto Rico working with microalgae at Florida International University. I interned at the Smithsonian twice and was also an AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellow who worked at CNN en Español.
As the first Latina Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow in 2018, I traveled to three Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute facilities in Panama, collecting microalgae samples. I documented my research in Spanish and English through blogging, microscopic pictures, and videos. I did an activity where visitors used their senses to discover the invisible world of microalgae. I studied interdisciplinary science at the University of Puerto Rico and recently completed my master’s in Environmental Science at Florida International University.
For nine months, I explored Panama’s two oceans and Gatun Lake, the reservoir created to feed the Panama Canal, in search of microalgae. I did three things with the samples: identify them to species, add them to a STRI database that documents the country's biodiversity and use them to educate the public. My project is called, “The Invisible Story of Microalgae."
During my collection trip to Gatun Lake in a Panama Canal Authority boat, I gained one of my most memorable experiences. That day I was carried a field microscope and took the opportunity to show the captain and his crew the microalgae she had just collected with their help. The captain told me that he had taken a lot of people in that boat for scientific purposes and it was the first time someone explained what they were doing. This is why I am a Digital Storytelling Fellow. I want to communicate science to everyone.
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