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Less than a year after the launch of the FIU Tropics Photo Contest, a program that incentivizes students to communicate the importance of tropical conservation through photography, the art-science initiative has found an unlikely supporter – a healthcare expert.

A healthcare veteran with an innate passion for helping others, Dr. Jim McCormick has an MD in Emergency Medicine from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. He learned about the FIU Tropics Photo Contest last spring through his son, FIU student Jimmy McCormick, and immediately recognized an opportunity.

In addition to a life-time career in healthcare, Jim has been a photography and tropical botany enthusiast for over twenty years. With a photography portfolio that highlights the beauty and diversity of nature, and a start-up abstract photography project (JJMDigital) focused on the interface of air, oil, water, glass and motion, partnering with FIU Tropics was an almost instinctive decision for the talented doctor and photography entrepreneur. The opportunity to create a platform for the communication of tropical research and conservation through art, not only made sense for him and his new business, but was also the perfect opportunity to do what he loves most – help others.

“Art is there for the mind, biodiversity is there for humanity and the planet,” Jim said when asked about what motivated him to initiate this partnership with FIU Tropics. “The more we can grow together, the more we can help people get connected to the environment and the importance of conserving biodiversity and our ecosystems.”

Jim is working alongside FIU Tropics director, Dr. Christopher Baraloto, and a team from the College of Arts, Sciences and Education to expand the FIU Tropics contest and create more avenues for students and the community to get involved in tropical conservation.

This semester, as a result of Jim’s support, the Fall 2018 FIU Tropics Photo Contest has been extended to all FIU students with an interest in tropical research and conservation. In addition, a new social media internship open to FIU students with experience in digital communications and interests in tropical conservation was launched this month.

“This partnership promises exciting opportunities,” said Dr. Baraloto, “and it is a testament to the huge impact that individuals like Jim McCormick, who are committed to giving back and doing good for the future of our planet, can have on the advancement of research, conservation and the communication of their importance to the wider community.”