News | January 10, 2020


FGCU turns research into performance at Research Roadshow

4 - minute read

Water issues, entrepreneurial success focus of three SWFL shows

When challenged to turn complex research and scholarship into a performance, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) faculty, staff and students responded with the Research Roadshow. This high-tech, multimedia production features faculty and students engaging with the audience about frogs and their link to wetland health, historic hurricanes and what they can predict, and an entrepreneurship student’s effort to build a successful business. The Research Roadshow is slated for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 23 in Naples, Feb. 5 in Fort Myers and March 18 in Sanibel.

Photo shows FGCU Research Roadshow
FGCU’s first Research Roadshow was presented in 2018-19. Photo: James Greco/FGCU

“The FGCU Research Roadshow is a one-of-a-kind event – something that no other university provides its community,” said Billy Gunnels, FGCU’s director of undergraduate research, who helped found the Research Roadshow. “At its core, the Research Roadshow shares some exceptional examples of the scholarly work that student and faculty collaborators undertake at FGCU. The community will learn about the research, but they will also discover the motivation, the passion and the joy that inspires these student and faculty teams. In addition, the Research Roadshow combines exceptional audio and video production so that the audience becomes fully immersed in the experience.”

Photo shows FGCU field researchers
FGCU researchers assess frog populations to learn about environmental health. Photo: Brian Tietz

The three featured presentations for the second installment of the Research Roadshow are:

  • “The Silence of the Frogs,” which focuses on a 20-year study of Southwest Florida’s frog population by FGCU professors and students that paints a picture about the state of the environment. An army of student and professional researchers and citizen scientists took on this study to better understand how the urbanization of Southwest Florida affects the frogs that fill our night with croaks and ribbits.
    Performers/Presenters: Dr. Win Everham and recent graduate Taylor Hancock
  • “Digging into the Past to Forecast the Future,” which looks at the work of researchers who have developed ways to track water temperature, as well as the frequency and intensity of storms that hit Florida’s shores more than 1,000 years ago, using hurricane sediment and the fossil record of microbes that lived in the mud. Besides the “wow” factor, these data when combined with other research dramatically improve scientists’ ability to understand future storms.
    Performers/Presenters: Dr. Joanne Muller, students James Javaruski and Ilexxis Morales
  • “Marriage, Music & Money,” which features a student entrepreneur and her sister who turned a love of music into a thriving wedding and special-occasion performance business that employs a dozen musicians. These sisters extraordinaire illustrate the research process of discovery and creation perfectly as they harnessed the scholarly soul of entrepreneurship to help them translate their love of music into a private enterprise.
    Performers/Presenters: Dr. Sandra Kauanui, recent graduate Jade Gibson, sophomore Sapphire Gibson and members of Jade Strings
Photo show FGCU researchers in water
FGCU researchers take core samples of sea bottoms to learn more about hurricanes. Photo: Brian Tietz

“The Research Roadshow grew from a desire to tell the FGCU story in new and different ways,” said Deborah Wiltrout, FGCU’s associate vice president for marketing and communications and a founder of the Research Roadshow. “We are constantly looking for ways to convey complex ideas to the public, and this concept has really worked well. You take passionate students and their faculty mentors and pair them with script writers, numerous production personnel, videographers and a theatrical director to create a show that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. I can’t wait for this year’s show.”

With a runtime of 50 minutes, the Research Roadshow is both entertaining and informative. Each presentation blends intellectual and personal narratives so that the audience understands why these individuals pursue these projects. Video and acoustic elements complement each presentation to create an immersive experience.

Jade Strings 

“The audience will also learn about some of the many different faces of research,” said Gunnels. “Research is a process of inquiry, creation and discovery. The Roadshow will demonstrate some different ways that research can be pursued.”

Seating is limited and free registration is required to attend.

“The Research Roadshow really demonstrates the wonderful relationship our students have with the faculty,” said FGCU President Mike Martin. “And, it gives us the chance to inform the community both about what we do here and also about topics that they may not have otherwise given much thought to. We bring them a little education and a little exposure to the institution.”

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