Undergrad Making a Difference to Solve Environmental Problems

portrait of chemical engineering student brooke gilbert outside the famu-fsu college of engineering

Brooke Gilbert is an undergraduate student at Florida State University and the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering who hopes to parlay her engineering degree into a career of environmental solution-building. (Scott Holstein/FAMU-FSU Engineering)

Fourth-year chemical engineering student Brooke Gilbert says one of her favorite things about the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is the small, tight-knit community that makes up the college. 

“I think the family atmosphere here fosters an inclusive and cohesive class of engineers,” the Ft. Lauderdale native explained.

Gilbert has a passion for environmental science and hopes to tackle climate change and work to develop renewable energy in the future. The undergrad shared a few thoughts about her journey and why engineering is the perfect conduit for solving environmental problems.

On choosing engineering:

Throughout my life, I have had a problem-solving inclination and intrinsic curiosity about the world, and I am intrigued by how things work. I always wanted to work in a lab where I could design and create different innovative projects. Engineering merges my passion for problem-solving and a desire to impact the world.

Making a difference and impacting the world:

I hope to spend my life studying different environmental topics and solving different environmental and climate-related issues. I am most interested in researching and trying to help solve problems related to plastic pollution, biofuels and renewable energy.

How the passion started:

In high school, I completed and published a research project focused on Red Tide, utilizing native seagrass species that act as a natural filtration system. The species sequesters the excess nutrients responsible for Red Tide blooms. I found this research extremely rewarding and had the opportunity to spread the results of my work to help my community mitigate the effeccts of local Red Tide blooms.

On her undergraduate research:

I am in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and a leader in the Engineering Colloquium section. I have found being a leader in this course to be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. I previously participated in research during my first and second years at FSU studying Red Tide with Dr. Sven Kranz and Ming Ye. 

If she had a superpower…

I would have to say that it would be split 50/50 between teleportation and time travel. Seeing different points in time and talking to people would be extremely interesting and broaden my perspective. However, the ability to be in many places at once would allow me to accomplish many more tasks and keep in touch with all my loved ones.

Advice for others:

I would tell younger engineering students not to give up or be discouraged. Engineering can make you feel like you are working hard for little reward. Students need to know there will be difficult and trying moments, but their persistence and perseverance will make all their hard work worth it. 

You have more in common with your peers than you may think, and many are struggling also. It’s OK to fail because it’s part of the process, especially in how you grow and learn, academically and personally.

Try to connect with other people in the major, form study groups and surround yourself with others who might be experiencing the same things. Build support groups within your major because the camaraderie and friendships you form are a valuable and integral part of your journey as an engineering student.


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