Luis Perez

Commencement: Fall 2014, Ceremony 6

Degree: Ph.D. in Civil Engineering

Graduate of: College of Engineering and Computing

At 65, Luis Perez is earning a Ph.D. at an age when few consider a demanding university program. Yet his work can be seen as a distillation of the knowledge and experience Luis gained through earlier endeavors.

Born in Peru, he earned an undergraduate degree in civil engineering in 1977, then an MBA. He and his wife moved to Miami in 1979 where he became an entrepreneur. The family later moved to South Africa to run a successful jewelry manufacturing facility, and returned to Miami when their daughters reached college age. Luis had long been fascinated with how technology was changing his original field and decided to pursue a Master’s in civil engineering at FIU. He began the doctorate program in 2010.

Luis investigates Everglades’ water flow in a unique way. Using remote sensing and satellite readings he has been tracking water content in the vadose — the semi-wet soil layer that separates the labyrinth of aquifers from the upper layer of earth, peering into what Luis calls an energy exchange between the vast water caverns and the world above.

Luis was awarded an FIU NASA grant. After graduation he wants to continue his research and perhaps teach. Luis notes that his mentor, Professor Hector R. Fuentes, was instrumental with research and lab help and credits Professor Fernando R. Miralles-Wilhelm for introducing him to remote sensing technologies.