Suzanne Boxman, who completed her Ph.D. as a Florida Sea Grant-funded graduate student at the University of South Florida, has been awarded a US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development fellowship to continue her aquaculture systems research at the National Center for Mariculture in Eilat, Israel.
Boxman started the BARD fellowship last December and has since been working with top professionals in the industry to help solve some of the major engineering issues involved in aquaculture production.
With Florida Sea Grant funding, Boxman and a team of researchers at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Aquaculture Research Park have been developing a prototype of an saltwater aquaponics system, a hybrid cultivation method that combines growing plants in water with fish farming. In aquaponic systems, fish and plants rely on each other to thrive, much like in the wild. Waste produced by fish in grow-out tanks helps fertilize the plants, and the plants help purify the water recirculated to the fish.
“Florida Sea Grant essentially funded my doctoral research, allowing me to work closely with marine aquaculture and providing the skills I needed to work here at the National Center for Mariculture,” Boxman said.
In Israel, Boxman is now learning how the country manages water resources in a desert ecosystem. She hopes this information will give her knowledge on how to deal with more prominent water scarcity issues in the U.S.
“I hope to get a better understanding of how aquaculture is done in other countries, specifically land-based systems,” Boxman said. “I also wanted to learn about water use in arid environments. The facility is located is in the Negev desert so it is very arid which makes it critical to conserve water when doing land-based aquaculture.”
Boxman’s future career goals are to “continue working within the water, nutrient and energy nexus to improve the management of natural resources as they become increasingly limited with population growth,” read a news story from the University of South Florida. “Her plan is to gain further experience with technologies and systems that convert traditionally wasted outputs into useful products.”
“Ultimately, I hope to transition from researching these technologies to developing environmental policies that ensure they are implemented,” Boxman told USF.