My name is Joe Cutler and I am a National Geographic Explorer and freshwater ecologist who studies rivers and lakes in Central Africa. My work takes me to some of the most remote places on earth and I study biodiversity in areas where no scientist has gone before – areas where electricity is notably lacking.
Our wildlife sampling usually takes all day and our specimen processing lasts well into the night. Usually my team burns through AAA batteries at an alarming rate, so I’ve been looking for a more sustainable and field-friendly option. That’s how I first found out about Luci Lights. I contacted MPOWERD and told them of my need: rugged, durable, waterproof light sources – they said, try our newest model, the Luci Pro Series with mobile charging, and proceeded to ship a dozen for us to take to Gabon on my most recent expedition.
I traveled to Gabon with 12 Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0 lights in my checked baggage and quickly realized their value in the field. My team and I were sampling fish biodiversity in the Iguela Lagoon in southern Gabon. We were lodged in rustic conditions – a simple concrete building with an unpredictable generator. By the second day, we had given up on the old generator and were illuminating our lab with Luci Lights exclusively. The local team really enjoyed using Luci Lights; their simplicity, size, weight and water resistance were perfect for their needs. I highlight was definitely the USB charging port after the generator stopped working for us. The only issue they found was they had a hard time “feeling” the buttons in the dark – a small price to pay for reliable solar light that didn't require the frequent battery changes they were used to. (MPOWERD note: we have been exploring various solutions for this issue and hope to make a rolling product change in the near future).
Later that week, curious kids from the local community started showing up to check out what my team and I were up to in “the lab." They were excited by the piles of diverse fishes, the taxonomic keys that we were using to distinguish species, and our equipment and tools – especially the Luci Lights. In a village without an electrical grid, and where generator power was rare and only reserved for important visitors, the kids were thrilled by our solar lamps. Before we moved between sample sites, I gave each local child one lantern to take home, they were thrilled.
Now that I’m back in the US and spend most of my hours processing the specimen and data collected during the expedition, I often day dream back to the warm summer days on the banks of the Iguela Lagoon in Southern Gabon. I wonder if those kids are using their lights for school work or to navigate around the village after dark. It is amazing to me that such a small tool can have such a great impact, and I love to dream of the possibilities