Degree: Ph.D. in Biological Sciences
College/School: School of Environment, Arts and Society; College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Brian Machovina enrolled at FIU to study biology, drawn from landlocked Ohio to South Florida’s international culture, beaches and the Everglades. A class field trip to the Florida Keys sparked his interest in conservation – while snorkeling he saw amazing biodiversity firsthand. Since then, he has devoted his career to health, nutrition and conservation with his wife and business partner at his side, Eileen McHale ‘93.
Brian earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biological sciences in 1991 and 1994. He then enrolled in the Ph.D. program, but was recruited to develop a foundation for actor Woody Harrelson to protect rainforests in Latin America. That experience led to a series of other business and philanthropic endeavors.
He returned to FIU in 2010 to finish the doctorate degree he had started nearly 16 years prior. At the same time, he and Eileen invented Yonanas – a kitchen appliance that turns fruit into an ice cream-like treat. Yonanas is now sold in over 50 countries.
Brian leveraged his contacts and entrepreneurial spirit to convince Dole Foods to fund his doctoral research. He designed his research program to investigate the role of tropical agriculture in conservation and the impacts of climate change on food security. His Ph.D. thesis argues consumption of meat by humans is the greatest threat to biodiversity and increasing plant-based food consumption would induce many positive global environmental impacts. His research has been published in top science journals, including Nature and Science, and presented to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.