Environmental studies professor inspires future scientists

Dr. Michael Abazinge is a veteran professor at
FAMU's School of Environment. 
Photo credit: Florida A&M University Sustainability Institute 

When first enrolling at Florida A&M University, Dr. Michael Abazinge, realized that there were not any environmental science programs, but he knew he wanted to make a difference in the programs for future students.

“When I first came to FAMU for my undergraduate degree, there were no environmental science programs. The closest was the College of Agriculture,” Abazinge said.

In 1979, after Abazinge received his undergraduate degree in animal science, he went on to pursue and a master of science degree and a doctor of philosophy degree in physiology and nutrition from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The information I have now is incorrect. 

Abazinge later worked in Washington, D.C. for a year. While there he received a call from his former advisor from FAMU, who informed him of a job opening in the School of Environment. Abazinge would later become a professor at FAMU.

Abazinge serves as the associate director for Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems. Since being the associate director, he has graduated one of the largest numbers of African-American students in the School of Environment.

He has received a plaque to honor his services while serving as an advisor and mentor to 19 of the first 50 students that have completed the graduate program in the school.

According to the university’s newsletter, FAMU Forward, FAMU received a 15.1 million grant as part of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration educational partnership program. FAMU has partnered with five universities to establish the Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Award.

FAMU is at the forefront providing leadership and best practices in environmental science. For the past 17 years FAMU has been receiving funding from NOAA.

NOAA scholar, Prian Vadel, is a first-generation college student from Greensboro, FL. He received his associate degree at Tallahassee Community College.

Vadel expressed that he had an interest in environmental studies and wanted to be a part of FAMU’s program where he can continue his studies.

“I know I wanted to go to college, but didn’t know what to major in being that I was the first in my family to attend college. I wanted to pursue a bachelor’s, I just didn’t know in what,” Vadel said.

Vadel studies the impacts of fertilizers, coastal water bodies and its impact on fisheries, water quality and how it is ultimately impacting the economy.

Ultimately, Abazinge wants students in the program to be able to address environmental problems not just in their own way, but address the problems holistically.

“It has been an exciting experience (at FAMU). I have enjoyed teaching and looking at folks that traditionally out of the science area trying to see whether we can get a few more involved or interested in the sciences,” Abazinge said.