Conservation Expert Shares Path to Career Success

November 29, 2017

Pursuing your passion

Converting your passion into a career was the topic Wednesday of a presentation by conservation specialist Dr. Tracy Fanara. Students heard over an hour Dr. Fanara’s career path as a civil engineer, from her dissertation research into protecting the Florida aquifer through intelligent landscaping, to an appearance on the Science Channel’s “Mythbusters: The Search.”

Today, Dr. Fanara is a staff scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota, a job that puts her squarely in position to pursue her passion for water conservation and sustainability.

“When you want to do something whether you get paid for it or not, then you’ve found your passion,” Dr. Fanara said.

Dr. Fanara’s interest in sustainability was sparked when she met as a child people affected by the Love Canal, an infamous toxic waste site in Niagara Falls, New York. The 70-acre site sickened hundreds of people living nearby and was the impetus for the Superfund federal government program to clean up hazardous waste. The incident demonstrated to a young Dr. Fanara the power of education and legislation to spark real change.

Today, that passion is put into practice by putting tools in the hands of citizens to protect marine and human lives. For instance, visitbeaches.org and its accompanying app lets trained citizens report the appearance of dangerous conditions like red tides in real time. Dr. Fanara is also blending engineering with science to develop filters that protect coastal waters from industrial runoff and waste.

“As you go through school and in the real world, think about what’s driving you and how you can make the world a better place,” Dr. Fanara said.