Exploring Aquaponics as a Sustainable Food Source

Author: Gene Stowe

Janaee Wallace Brings a Lot of Energy to her ESTEEM Classes

Janaee Wallace joined the University of Notre Dame’s Engineering, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Master’s (ESTEEM) Program because her college counselor said it would equip her to fulfill her dreams. Wallace wants to develop marine aquaculture in her native Bahamas to launch innovative, sustainable food production across developing island and coastal nations in the Caribbean and South America. ESTEEM is adding extensive business, marketing, and technology skills to the scientific knowledge she gained with a biology major and chemistry minor at St. Edward’s University. 

“It teaches you how to think differently than people normally think, to combine that technical aspect with that business aspect and that problem-solving ability,” says Wallace, who learned in a few weeks how to create high-tech presentations and conduct a business model canvass to test the viability of entrepreneurial ideas. “You learn how to pivot, to tailor your business based on the information you get from the customers. That’s important in life as well as in business, to be able to adapt to changes.”


Wallace is working with Professor Jeanne Romero-Severson, a genomics expert in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Janice Pilarski, a co-founder of Green Bridge Growers, an innovative social venture in aquaponics in Innovation Park. Her project uses aquaponics, a marriage of hydroponics and aquaculture, with seawater to raise salt-resistant food crops.

“The way the world is changing, I want to be able to develop a system of technology, hopefully starting with aquaponics, starting with island nations and coastal countries that would give a presence on the global stage for developing countries,” Wallace says. “I hope that in a small way, we would begin to develop a system of technologies and businesses that would want to develop sustainable technological development in those areas.”

In addition to the courses that quickly gave her fluency in new business technologies and practices, Wallace says the support of her classmates and the growing ESTEEM network have helped her pursue her dream.

“There’s a really, really strong culture in ESTEEM,” she says. “We’re always talking to one another. Everyone is supportive. If you don’t understand something, you just ask someone. I love our class. It helps you achieve your goals. ESTEEM gives you the skill set so you could go off on your own and start your own business. You could create those changes you want to see in the world."