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FGCU and Mote Team Up on Water Research

Rachel Iacovone
FGCU Provost James Llorens and Mote President and CEO Michael Crosby embrace after signing the Memorandum of Understanding between their respective organizations.

Florida Gulf Coast University announced its first partnership for its new Water School on Thursday. 

It’s official. Mote Marine Laboratory and FGCU have finally tied the knot following their long-term research relationship, which was only strengthened by the dueling algal blooms last summer.

The ceremonious signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two took place in Seidler Hall on campus, just downstairs from the labs where all the related research happens.

“We’re very excited today, as our two institutions come together to tackle one of the most important water quality issues in Southwest Florida – harmful algal blooms – including not only the Florida red tide algal blooms but the blue-green algal blooms as well and the impacts that these are having on our community,” Mote President and CEO Michael Crosby said.

Dr. Michael Parsons is the professor of Marine Science at FGCU and the director of the Coastal Watershed Institute and Vester Field Station. 

“Well, I guess one of the main questions is: is it a coincidence that both of them happened at the same time?” Parsons said. “We know with the blue-green algal blooms, they’re freshwater, and any nutrients going into the freshwater system is definitely going to support those blooms and basically encourage those blooms, if you will. So, that’s probably what happened this past year with all the run-off and all the nutrients going in after Hurricane Irma.” 

Parsons said the collaboration opens up many more opportunities for his students.

“So, basically right now, we do have some graduate students that work at Mote," Parsons said. "So, we’re hoping we can expand that, maybe get some of the funding resources together so it’ll be better and easier for the students to go to school part-time and work part-time because that’s always difficult for students to do.”

The Memorandum of Understanding locks Mote and FGCU into a five-year partnership – with the option to renew. It will focus on improving understanding and forecasting of algal blooms, developing mitigation techniques, appointment of joint instructional and research faculty and procurement of funding for research.