Ikechukwu Onwuka

Spring 2023 Real Triumphs Graduate

Degree: Ph.D. in Earth System Sciences

School: Environment, Arts and Society

College: Arts, Sciences & Education

As a young child in Nigeria, Ikechukwu (Ike) Onwuka was mesmerized by his picture books with their vibrant colors and images depicting the world. Years later, while studying oceanography at the University of Ghana, his attention was gripped by other images — the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest marine oil spill in the planet’s history. His lifelong passion for the planet, coupled with this catastrophic environmental disaster, ignited Ike’s desire to create real solutions in real time.

In 2016, he enrolled at FIU as a master’s student in the Department of Earth and Environment and later became a Ph.D. student. Under Professor Leonard Scinto’s guidance, Ike developed cost-effective, long-term methods to provide high-resolution sediment and phosphorus estimates in canals to assess when water discharges can degrade Everglades wetlands. He has also mentored many students.

His efforts have been recognized, earning him a ForEverglades Scholar Award, FIU Outstanding Student Life Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the Society for Freshwater Society Endowment Award. He is one of the first FIU students inducted into the National Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, which recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education. 

A year into his doctorate program, Ike lost his father. As someone who always loved science, Ike says he is honoring his father’s legacy as he graduates this spring with a Ph.D. in Earth System Sciences. He hopes to one day have his consultancy agency for environmental sustainability. 

Christine Calvo
Account Manager
College of Arts, Sciences & Education