FGCU, FAU get $200,000 grant for harmful algal bloom research

Florida Gulf Coast University wants to understand better how blue-green algae and red tide impact your health. To do so, The Water School at the university will receive more than $200,000 from the Florida Dept. of Health to dive deeper into the issue.

Harmful algal bloom research is getting a boost. In regards to The Water School expanding, Adam Catasus, a research scientist and FGCU alum, said it is incredible. Catasus sees the investment as making it “very different than what I was used to” when he was an undergrad.

Dr. Mike Parsons, who is a professor of marine and earth sciences at The Water School, said they wrote a grant proposal to the Florida Dept. of Health to study the “airborne blue-green algal toxins.” The Water School and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute will get over $200,000 from the grant to research how those toxins impact us.

“What we’ll be doing here at FGCU is measuring the toxins in the air and in the water,” Parsons said. Meanwhile, FAU will collect blood, urine and nasal samples from people. “Then, we’re going to try to put it all together and see how people are being exposed and help.”

The research will not just study the health effects of blue-green algae. Since the red tide is a real-time environmental concern, researchers will sample it and collect data. All of this comes as The Water School looks forward to the groundbreaking of its new building on Thursday. It will open in Fall 2021.

Executive Director of The Water School Dr. Greg Tolley said the new building would be the largest on campus. It is fitting for a program that is bursting at the seams to expand research and space in Southwest Florida to combat the water quality crisis. “The facility is a lot of research space,” Tolley said. “We’re very, very tight on research space.”

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Michael Mora
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