Degree: Ph.D. in Biological Sciences
College/School: College of Arts, Sciences & Education School of Environment, Arts and Society
A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Angelle Bullard-Roberts spent her childhood outdoors climbing trees planted by her parents. Her mother is a nurse and her father is a science teacher. Angelle’s parents also owned a health food store where she learned about the use of plants for medicinal purposes.
Wanting to become a doctor, Angelle enrolled at the University of the Southern Caribbean. A field research experience studying an endangered hummingbird immediately sparked a change in her academic trajectory. Angelle completed a bachelor’s in biology, followed by a master’s in environmental science and management. She taught environmental biology courses for five years before enrolling at FIU to pursue a Ph.D.
Aware of the prevalence of diabetes among the people of the Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora, Angelle focused her dissertation research on understanding the complex relationships between culture and plants, how people throughout the Caribbean select plants to treat diabetes symptoms and the anti-diabetic properties of these plants.
Midway through her Ph.D., a diagnosis of severe endometriosis almost derailed Angelle’s academic aspirations. Having lost twins prior to starting her program, the prospect of losing the option of motherhood was heart wrenching. Thankfully, surgery was successful and she returned to school after a sabbatical. In her final year, tragedy struck again when Angelle’s mom died, but she pressed on. She dedicates her Ph.D. to her mother.
When Angelle returns home, she will continue teaching about and researching the virtues and values of Caribbean medicinal plants.