Degree: Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies
College: School of Environment, Arts and Society at the College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Blaire Kleiman’s research often gets down in the weeds — and it’s for a good reason.
Her work is focused on the role weeds play in attracting important insects to plants, especially edible plants like fruit trees.
Working under the guidance of FIU professors Suzanne Koptur and Krishnaswamy Jayachandran, Blaire found weeds actually benefit mango trees. She compared mango trees at Lyons Farms in Homestead — those that had weeds growing around them and those that did not. Trees with weeds attracted more pollinators — like bees, butterflies and flies — which in turn helped the trees produce more fruit.
These findings are critical to helping farmers save time and money, and reduce the use of chemical pesticides. To date, she’s had two papers published in scientific journals.
In addition to pursuing her own studies, Blaire also worked in FIU research assistant professor Cara Rockwell’s Plants and People Lab. Blaire is also interested in sharing her passion for plants. She’s a member of FIU’s Garden Club and the Beekeeping Club.
Invited to pursue her doctoral studies at other universities, Blaire has decided to stay at FIU. She received the prestigious FIU Presidential Fellowship and will pursue her Ph.D. in the fall and hopes to study how climate change will impact agriculture.
By Angela Nicoletti
College of Arts, Sciences & Education