Daphne Sugino

Degree: Master of Sciences in Environmental Studies

College/School: School of Environment, Arts and Society, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

In July 2017, Daphne Sugino Souffront moved back home to Dorado, Puerto Rico. Two months later, Hurricane Irma hit the island. When it passed, Daphne and her family cleaned up debris and waited for power to be restored. Ten days later, Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4.   

Daphne’s family rode out the storm for 12 hours in their home of 23 years. Strong winds ripped the roof off in sections. A wall fell. The second floor flooded. At the time, there was no time to process what was happening. There was only time to survive.

After the storm, communications systems, water service and electricity were wiped out.

When Daphne’s family ran out of food, they stood in long lines for bread, rice or milk.

During this difficult time, one of the few things that kept Daphne going was the hope she’d get into FIU. When there was enough gasoline to spare, Daphne would drive an hour to a parking lot near the capital — one of the only places she’d get a signal on her phone — to check if her acceptance letter arrived. One day, it did. 

Under the guidance of Krishnaswamy Jayachandran, Diego Salazar Amoretti and Amir Khoddamzadeh, Daphne conducted groundbreaking research using one of the world’s most underappreciated recyclers: earthworms. She discovered vermicompost — earthworm waste — is a sustainable, cheap and affordable solution to pesticides that helps plants make chemical changes to repel pests.

Next, Daphne will pursue a Ph.D. in natural resources management at FIU and continue conducting research that benefits both people and the environment.

By Angela Nicoletti
Account Manager
College of Arts, Sciences & Education