JUPITER — The Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University recently hosted its 13th annual Symposium and Research Day. One of the guest lecturers was South Florida Times contributor and leading Florida environmentalist Audrey Peterman.

The symposium celebrates student academic achievement in the honors college, with more than 100 visual art and research project displays spanning a variety of subject areas.

Peterman, president and co-founder of Earthwise Productions, gave a presentation titled “Being the Change You Want to See: How the Vision of Our National Parks Transformed My Life.”

About 200 people attended from students, their families and members of the community.

Described as a charismatic speaker, Peterman spoke about the importance of exposing National Parks to the community and in particular minority groups. She told the audience how she’s visited the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Everglades National parks, as well as lesser-known sites off the beaten path.

During her adventures, Peterman said she saw less than a handful of Americans of Hispanic, Asian, African or Native American heritage enjoying the Great American outdoors.

Recognizing that this problem stemmed from a lack of information and misconceptions Peterman  decided to become a catalyst for change.

As president of Earthwise Productions Inc., an environmental consulting and publishing firm, Peterman expertly provides information about the meaning of the great American outdoors and environment, particularly to African Americans and under-served people of color. She is also the author of the travel guide, Our True Nature: Finding a Zest for Life in the National Park System, released in 2012.

“Having a dynamic speaker like Peterman linking environment, outdoors, global warming and climate change to people, in an engaging and persuasive way, is just another way to encourage personal growth for our students,” said Jeffrey Buller, Ph.D., dean of the Wilkes Honors College. “We welcome to the community to join us for the symposium showcasing our students’ academic success and for this thought provoking presentation.”

At the symposium, 109 Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College students presented their thesis’ by oral presentation, visual art and poster display. The event is held every year in celebration of academic achievements of students at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College.

Lindsay Gorgen, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, presented her thesis about the relevance of Rheb, an enzyme which may play an important role in the go/stop signal for a cell to make new proteins. Gorgen worked with Dr. Srinivasa Subramaniam from The Scripps Research Institute on her thesis. Her work was recently published in Cell Reports. http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/pdf/S2211-1247(15)00027-3.pdf.