1 UNF Drive
Building 1, Room 2200
Jacksonville, FL 32224
Phone: (904) 620-5804
Fax: (904) 620-2668
The Environmental Center at the University of North Florida seeks to stimulate the creation of multidisciplinary research projects related to the environment. The grants offered to faculty are intended to “seed” environmentally related research that subsequently results in the preparation and submission of a proposal to an external funding agency that is submitted through the Environmental Center. In addition, the Environmental Center especially hopes to inspire effective collaboration between faculty members and students in diverse disciplines. The Seed Grants are competitively awarded to the most meritorious proposals.
The Seed Grant program is supported by an endowment provided by the River Branch Foundation. A recent gift from the Vulcan Materials Company Foundation has allowed the Environmental Center to expand the Seed Grant program and offer two additional grants focused on water issues in Northeast Florida.
The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, 2017
Proposals must address one of the following priority areas:
Determining Gopher Tortoise Burrow Occupancy Using a Robotic Camera 2010
Voices from the Stream: An Environmental History of the St. Johns River 2009
Dig in! Go Green! Fruit and Vegetable Gardening with Preschoolers 2009
Living on the Leading Edge of an Expanding Range: Examining the Physiological Response of Mangrove Species to Temperature and Environmental Change
Dr. Michael Aspinwall, Department of Biology
Climate warming is causing rapid changes in saltmarsh and mangrove plant communities. Freezing temperatures have historically restricted the distribution of mangrove species to parts of south Florida. Yet, warmer temperatures have facilitated the northward expansion of mangroves, resulting in a parallel reduction in saltmarsh habitat. This project aims to examine the physiological mechanisms involved in mangrove species northward expansion. In particular, this project will determine whether mangrove species growing at the leading edge of an expanding range vary in thermal acclimation of key physiological processes (photosynthesis and respiration), and whether salinity and nutrient availability modify mangrove physiological responses to temperature. The project will take place at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM-NERR), and will involve a factorial experiment with three mangrove species, two salinity levels, and two nutrient levels. This project will improve our understanding of mangrove responses to temperature, as well as predictions of mangrove range expansion in response to future climate.
Sand dunes are often the primary means of protection from hurricane storm surge and associated wave action. However, dunes are highly erodible and do a relatively poor job of protecting the coast when compared with other coastal protection measures such as seawalls, bulkheads, or revetments. It would be beneficial to develop a sustainable rapid-deployment system that could be used to strengthen the dunes just prior to a hurricane. Microbial-induced calcite precipitation (MICP) is one technology that would appear to be suitable for such an application. A study is proposed whereby synthetic bench-scale dunes will be built in UNF’s new wave basin, (basin will be completed by December 2017), treated via MICP, and subjected to wave action. Erosion will be quantified by measuring the dunes’ profiles, and results from treated dunes will be compared with results from untreated dunes to determine erosion improvement.
Anthropogenic nutrient pollution has led to an increase in harmful algal blooms in recent years, with an increase in both eukaryotic algae and cyanobacteria. Cyanobacterial blooms can be of particular concern due to their ability to produce toxins. Because of the ability for cyanobacterial blooms to occur in both freshwater and marine habitats, characterizing species composition of these communities in areas of high social and economic importance is crucial to limiting potential exposure. This project aims to characterize cyanobacterial communities isolated from Ichetucknee Springs in order to document and inform the public of potential exposure to any toxin-producing species.
We received a UNF Environmental Center Seed Grant in 2016 to conduct a telephone survey designed to assess the willingness-to-pay for improvements in the quality of drinking water among local residents. The findings from that project suggest the need for follow-up research designed to fully explore the role of information, outreach and public awareness in water usage within the community. As part of this proposal and study design we have been collaborating with officials from JEA to widen the reach of a survey that includes more detailed questions regarding usage, information availability, information processing, trust in institutions, health history, demographics and geography. With the cooperation of JEA, we will pair the survey responses with administrative data on water usage. Using regression methods, we will (1) estimate the determinants of perceived quality of tap water, and then, conditional on (1), (2) estimate the determinants of water usage in the home.
Dr. Kelly Smith, Department of Biology
Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR)
Nicole Llinas, Biology Undergraduate Research Assistant
Retention ponds are ubiquitous in the southeast and play a key role in allowing stormwater to re-enter the groundwater supply; however, these ponds are sources of nutrients that can lead to nuisance algae blooms in recipient waterways. We propose using floating mats planted with Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) to achieve two goals: 1) Reduce nutrient levels in retention ponds through uptake by plant roots, and 2) harvest mature and healthy plants for control of sediment erosion and as habitat for coastal organisms. This collaborative effort between the education group at Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR) lead by Kenneth Rainer and the Department of Biology will merge scientific inquiry with environmental education. Outcomes of the project include: assessment of nutrient uptake in retention ponds, analysis of plant health response to floating mats and subsequent deployment in coastal shorelines, and integration of middle school student participation in plant harvesting and deployment as an environmental science activity.
Dr. Quincy Gibson, Department of Biology
Amber Brown, Biology Graduate Research Assistant
Recent necropsy reports have documented a large number of unexplained deaths among bottlenose dolphins in the St. Johns River, Jacksonville. Moreover, a number of these deaths occurred in low salinity areas of the river that are strong deviations from the residential population's known home ranges. These findings indicate that dolphins are traveling farther upstream into the freshwater, suggesting possible exposure to native toxin producing cyanobacterial blooms. In 2015, two dolphin stranding reports noted the presence of dermal "algal mats." Preliminary microscopic identification of these algal mats revealed the presence of both water mold and cyanobacteria. This combination could potentially provide an explanation for these previously unexplained fatalities. This research will focus on unusual strandings and the effects of freshwater cyanobacterial blooms on the health of dolphins in the St. Johns River.
Dr. Chris K. Johnson, Department of Economics and Geography
Dr. Chiradip Chatterjee, Department of Economics and Geography
Dr. Parvez Ahmed, Department of Accounting and Finance
Dr. Russell Triplett, Department of Economics and Geography
The objective of this study is to examine how measures of socioeconomic background, social capital and media exposure influence the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for water quality improvement. The purpose of this study is threefold: First, we will estimate residents’ monetary valuation for the improvement of tap water quality. Second, we will explain the influence of social capital and other socioeconomic factors on WTP. Finally, since Jacksonville’s tap water quality has attracted both positive and negative media attention, we will investigate to what extent the media attention influenced the monetary valuation for the improvement of tap water quality.
We propose a household phone survey of randomly selected residents in the city of Jacksonville by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at UNF with a target sample size between 500 and 1000 respondents. Students enrolled in Business and Economic Statistics (ECO 3411) will staff the phone bank. This will help to offset costs and offer students practical exposure to data collection procedures and the mechanics of random sampling. Looking ahead, we plan to use this data in support of proposal(s) for external funding for a more detailed in-person survey within the JEA service area and to develop a GIS map of water quality differentials across zip codes.
Dr. Stephen Stagon, School of Engineering
Dr. Amy Lane, Department of Chemistry
The U.S. Navy estimates that biofouling increases drag on the hulls of its ships by up to 40%, resulting in an annual cost of over $1 billion. Biofouling occurs through a multi-step process, beginning with the attachment of microorganisms and the formation of a biofilm which larger fouling organisms preferentially attach to. Biofilm formation may be mitigated using two approaches: chemical or mechanical. Chemically, surfaces are coated with a toxic substance that kills the biofilms if they are to attach. This approach is environmentally negative, as the toxins are often non-specific and impact organisms in the entire marine ecosystem. Mechanically, surfaces can be featured in such a way that the biofilm forming microorganisms physically cannot attach or find them non-preferable. While there is literature detailing the interaction of biofilm forming microorganisms on microstructured surfaces there is almost no investigation of the effects of nanostructured surfaces. In this project we aim to investigate the effects of nanofeatured surfaces, being metal nanorods, made of environmentally benign materials on the formation of marine biofilms. This project may result in a novel means of preventing biofilm formation and will serve as preliminary data to attract funding from the Navy or the NSF.
Dr. Curtis Phills,
Department of Psychology
Dr. Paul Fuglestad
, Department of Psychology
Dr. Heather Truelove, Department of Psychology
Climate scientists have a message: anthropogenic climate change and its negative consequences are real (IPCC, 2013). Unfortunately, the presentation of that message has not resulted in a large groundswell of support of pro-environmental initiatives (Gallup, 2014). Part of the reason for this may be that the message on climate change may not resonate with the general public on a motivational level. Regulatory fit theory (Higgins, 2000) proposes that elements of a message can be designed to induce a motivational “fit” such that people perceive the message as more resonant are in turn more likely to follow through with the message’s recommendations. Persuasive messages commonly use either a promotion focus—emphasizing the pursuit of ideals and positive outcomes—or a prevention focus— emphasizing the fulfillment of obligations and the prevention of negative outcomes. When other features of a persuasive appeal (e.g., visual imagery, calls to action) “fit” with the focus of message, persuasion and behavior change are increased. The proposed research will take advantage of the fact that pro- environmental messages tend to be framed in terms of striving for ideals (e.g., Be Green!) or fulfilling obligations (e.g., Don’t Pollute!). Across two laboratory and one field experiment we will investigate the effectiveness of presenting pro-environmental messages in manners designed to induce regulatory fit. We predict that when people view pro-environmental messages that induce regulatory fit they will value the environment more and perform more pro-environmental behaviors. We will also test whether valuing the environment mediates the influence of the messages on behavior.
Dr. Robert L. Thunen, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work
This is a pilot study to examine the environmental, archaeological, historical and cartographic data for information on the St. Johns River from the mouth of the river to the end of Mill Cove (our study area). Specifically, I am interested in what the natural and cultural landscape was like in the year 1564—the year the French arrived and built La Caroline Colony. We start with the fundamentals: to examine maps from recent topographic surveys, then move back investigating earlier maps, ending with maps of the first Spanish Period to get a sense of how much the river’s fundamental hydrology has been impact by dredging, erosion, and soil displacement. Next, we examine the possible locations for the Mocama (Timucua) contact villages based on both the archaeological and historical documents. From there, we begin to seek funding for a multidisciplinary research project focused on reconstructing the natural habitats and ecology of the 16th century. Some of this can be based on archaeological remains of flora and fauna from archaeological sites. In other cases, this will require cooperation across natural science disciplines with discussions about what habitats and species were likely here. The long-term goal is to arrive at a best estimate of the historical ecology similar to what was done in New York City for the Welikia Mannahatta Project.
Dr. Joseph A. Butler, Department of Biology
Dr. J. David Lambert, Department of Building Construction
The Diamondback Terrapins is the only species of turtle in North America that prefers the brackish water habitat, and it ranges from Cape Cod all the way to Corpus Christi. Throughout its range if shares this habitat with blue crabs, a situation that leads to thousands of terrapins drowning in blue crab traps each year. A further threat is habitat loss due to coastal development. When houses and seawalls are built on terrapin nesting and foraging areas these turtles are subjected to inferior habitats and often perish rather than adapting. For at least a decade researchers have been searching for terrapin nesting areas and population concentrations throughout the range, the idea being that once critical areas are identified they can be protected. Since 1995 I (JAB) have studied terrapins in northeastern Florida and I have data on populations in Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, and Flagler counties. My data set, however, is not continuous and there are miles of shorelines and tidal creeks that I have yet to survey in those counties. My plan is to “connect the dots” so that the entirety of the four northeastern counties is surveyed for diamondback terrapins, a linear distance of about 100 miles. As I have from the start, I will work with Dr. David Lambert of CCEC and his students to produce ArcGIS maps of the areas demonstrating where terrapins are concentrated. Further, we will develop a nesting habitat suitability index to predict where terrapins will be. By comparing satellite images and high resolution aerial photographs of known terrapin nesting habitats with other areas we have not surveyed we hypothesize that various characteristics such as vegetation patterns and sandy beaches will lead us to nesting spots. If this proves to be the case it will be of benefit to terrapin researchers throughout the range.
Dr. Erin Largo-Wight, Department of Public HealthDr. Caroline Guardino, Department of Exceptional, Deaf, and Interpreter EducationDr. Katrina Hall, Department of Childhood Education, Literacy, and TESOLChuck Hubbuch, UNF Physical Facilities
This study focuses on cultivating the school environment through the implementation of an outdoor classroom to foster health and learning among children. Findings across multiple fields suggest that regular “nature contact” strengthens cognitive abilities and facilitates health outcomes. Outdoor classrooms are an emerging application of these findings. The goal of this study is to enhance an existing outdoor classroom and measure its impact on children’s health and learning compared to an indoor classroom. An experimental crossover design will be used at a local elementary school. For each participating class, the treatment condition will consist of using the outdoor classroom for one STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and literacy lesson per week over the four-week pilot study. The control condition will consist of one matched lesson per week in the indoor classroom. Each week student learning and well-being data will be collected via child and teacher surveys and researcher observation in the treatment (outdoor classroom) and control (indoor classroom) conditions. Independent t-test analyses will be utilized to compare student learning and well-being between the treatment and control conditions. Feasibility and practicality of using the outdoor classroom will also be measured via teacher survey and descriptive data will be reported. We expect better health and learning-related outcomes in the outdoor classroom treatment condition compared to the control condition.
Dr. Jody S. Nicholson, Department of Psychology
Parents are front-line defenders for their children's health, protecting them from exposure to environmental neurotoxins such as lead. With this belief, my research focuses on the development of interventions that improve parental knowledge of lead exposure risk to lower children's blood lead levels. With adequate knowledge of how to construct a low-risk environment, parents should be able to minimize their children's blood lead levels. My interventions target low-income families whose children demonstrate lead levels above average, but below what is considered lead poisoning (i.e., between 3-9.9 mg/dl). The Centers for Disease Control is encouraging primary prevention (i.e., prevention of occurrence before adverse effects) efforts for children within this range, as there are still adverse consequences of lower levels of exposure, but less programming and research devoted to this range as compared to children considered lead poisoned (BLL > 10). As a developmental psychologist, I focus on factors that could enhance or limit a parent's ability to incorporate knowledge into changes in health behavior and, consequently, reduced biological indicators of exposure in their children. For example, personal and social factors such as self-efficacy, stress, and financial or educational constraints may constrain the effectiveness of an education-based intervention for some parents.
Dr. Daniel L Dinsmore, Department of Foundations and Secondary EducationDr. Meghan M. Parkinson, Department of Foundations and Secondary EducationDr. Brian P. Zoellner, Department of Foundations and Secondary EducationDr. Anthony M. Rossi, Department of Biology
While scientific evidence exists to help solve many environmental issues, this scientific evidence is often either ignored or misunderstood. The purpose of this project is to investigate how and why scientific evidence is either ignored or misunderstood. We propose to investigate how readers comprehend messages about scientific evidence with different types of text (informational, persuasive, and narrative). Additionally, this project will examine how scientific habits of mind, prior knowledge, and interest may affect an individual’s ability to understand the scientific evidence presented about environmental topics. Using structural equation modeling we will test the effects of type of text on comprehension, the role of individual differences (e.g., scientific habits of mind) on comprehension, and the interaction of type of text and individual differences on comprehension. This project brings together a multi-disciplinary team from the Colleges of Education and Arts and Sciences in addition to funding two undergraduate research assistants. Findings from this project will be disseminated in both conferences and journals, as well as used to develop a grant proposal in which an intervention will be designed to change scientific habits of mind for better comprehension of scientific evidence in the general public.
Dr. Keith Ashley,
of Sociology and Anthropology
years ago Native Americans in present-day Jacksonville lived off the natural bounty
of the salt marsh-estuary ecosystem. Their villages, camps, and resource
procurement sites were placed in locations that afforded ready access to daily
life-sustaining caloric resources in the form of fish, shellfish, reptiles, and
land mammals. Wild plants, nuts, and fruits were procured, but farming was not
practiced. The UNF Archaeology Lab is committed to research that highlights how
local Native Americans interacted with their natural environment. Of utmost
importance to reconstructing past Native American lifeways in the St. Johns
River estuary is determining specifically where Natives were living and what
foods they were targeting at different times in the year. I believe the best
way to address this is empirically through seasonality studies on biological
materials recovered from archaeological sites.
Peter Bacopoulos, Taylor Engineering Research Institute
The proposal is to design and implement a coupled field campaign and
numerical modeling strategy for understanding the spatial-temporal distribution
of beached oil tar balls in northeast Florida. The project is scaled and scoped
to serve as a seed for a larger study in the future that would involve external
funding. The seed grant, if awarded, would enable the formation of an
interdisciplinary team of faculty and students from UNF. The interdisciplinary basis
of the pilot project would be the integration of coastal engineering and environmental
chemistry. UNF students involved with the pilot project would include one
graduate student in coastal engineering and one undergraduate student in environmental
chemistry. The objective of the pilot project would be to establish the
coupling of a field campaign with a numerical model to study the transport
dynamics and sources of beached oil tar balls along the northeast Florida
coast. Tangible outcome would include spatial-temporal maps of distributed
beached oil tar balls along the northeast Florida coast plus the storage and
custody of field-collected beached oil tar balls. Additional outcome would
include the coupled field-modeling approach itself plus the experience of its
preliminary application in northeast Florida and ways to improve on the
Chris Baynard, Department of Economics and Geography
purpose of this study is to understand the role of oil and gas exploration and production
activities on land-use and land-cover change in west Florida. The goal is to
map the patterns and quantify the extent of surface disturbance related to OEPA
over time in Santa Rosa County using remote sensing and GIS techniques.
Amy Lane, Department of Chemistry
Thomas Mullen, Department of Chemistry
proposal describes efforts to study naturally occurring molecules as
environmentally friendly inhibitors of undesirable biofilms. Biofilms are microorganisms
embedded in a coating that facilitates surface adherence. Thick biofilms form
on myriad aquatic surfaces, negatively impacting the function of these
surfaces. Organic molecules are often employed to eliminate biofilms, but the
majority of these chemicals pose serious environmental consequences as they are
toxic not only to biofilm-forming organisms, but also to a broad community of
aquatic creatures. Hence, there is a strong need for molecules that inhibit
biofilm formation without impacting aquatic community health. Natural products,
molecules produced by living things, are hypothesized to hold immense untapped
potential as non-toxic, environmentally friendly biofilm inhibitors; the Lane
and Mullen research groups possess over 150 marine natural product mixtures.
The goal of this study is to explore these natural molecules as non-toxic
biofilm inhibitors through interdisciplinary methods capitalizing on the
complementary expertise of Dr. Lane in natural products chemistry and Dr.
Mullen in atomic force microscopy-based surface imaging. This project may
afford novel non-toxic methods to control biofilms, mitigating their negative
environmental and economic consequences. This study will offer preliminary data
for an NSF grant application and provide undergraduate research opportunities.
Heather Truelove, Department of Psychology
recent years, hundreds of programs have been implemented in the US to encourage
residents to adopt pro-environmental behaviors. An implicit assumption among
program designers is that the adoption of one pro-environmental action
positively spills over to (increases) the adoption of additional pro-environmental
actions. Yet, others have warned that promoting pro-environmental behavior
change could lead to negative spillover effects in which the adoption of one
pro-environmental action leads to a reduction in other pro-environmental
actions or reduced support for comprehensive policy measures. Despite these
assumptions, relatively little research supports either effect. Instead,
research has produced mixed results, with evidence for both positive and
negative spillover effects. Furthermore, research has been limited by a
reliance on correlational designs and limited investigation into the psychological
factors that explain and constrain these effects. The proposed research will
involve the training of UNF students to conduct lab-based and web-based
experimental studies to examine (1) the existence of positive and negative
spillover effects within a diverse set of pro-environmental actions and support
for pro-environmental policies, and (2) the psychological and situational
conditions that give rise to positive vs. negative spillover effects. This
research has significant implications for environmental policymaking and
environmental interest groups.
Courtney Hackney, Department of Biology
Quincy Gibson, Department of Biology
2009, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recognized two estuarine
stocks (i.e. populations) of bottlenose dolphins along the east coast of
Florida: the Indian River Lagoon stock and the Jacksonville stock. The dolphins
in the Indian River Lagoon have been the subject of extensive long
term study. However, dolphins in the
Jacksonville area have received relatively little research attention. In March
2011, UNF initiated a long
dolphin monitoring program to fill this knowledge gap and provide much needed
data on the dolphins inhabiting the St. John’s River. However, important questions
remain, especially regarding the size and geographical boundaries of the
Jacksonville dolphin population. These questions cannot be answered without
expanding our research efforts beyond the river. In recognition of the need for
research efforts to address these questions, a Northeast Florida Dolphin
Research Consortium was recently established. The primary goal of the following
research proposal is to partially fund UNF’s participation in a large
scale collaborative effort to determine
the abundance and movement patterns of bottlenose dolphins throughout the estuaries
of the Northeast Florida region. This project will enhance the research
opportunities for students by enabling them to experience the collaborative
nature of science first
Katrina Hall, Department of Childhood Education
Lunetta Williams, Department of Childhood Education
Wanda Hedrick, Department of Childhood Education
Earth Matters Book Club partners 3rd grade children from Tiger Academy, a YMCA
charter school situated in Jacksonville’s northwest, economically disadvantaged
area (32209 zip code), with UNF College of Education and Human Services (COEHS)
undergraduate students. UNF buddies will read nonfiction books focused on
Florida Sunshine State Standard SC.3.L15 Diversity and Evolution of Living
Organisms: A. The earth is home to a great diversity of living things, but changes
in the environment can affect their survival, with a focus on conserving Earth’s
natural resources. UNF undergraduate “buddies” will partner with 3rd graders to
discuss the books and complete extension activities based on the science standards.
The children will plan a related project with their UNF buddy to present at a
“family science literacy” night held at the Tiger Academy. The UNF students
will assist in developing science and literacy activities for family night that
parents can later replicate at home. Results will be measured through increases
in children’s vocabulary knowledge (pre and post testing), reading engagement
levels, and results from surveys given to the UNF students, the children, the
teachers, and caregivers about their increase in knowledge as a result of the
book club and family night.
Aiyin Jiang, Department of Building Construction Management
Gerald Merckel, School of Engineering
Daniel Cox, School of Engineering
long-term objective at UNF is to set up a research program of sustainable
building and infrastructure system, which serves the community of the university
and Florida as environment-friendly and energy-saving construction technology
resources. Our immediate interest is to apply next generation roofing material
– solar shingles – to buildings to turn buildings from energy consumers to
energy generators. Solar shingles are photovoltaic cells, capturing sunlight
and transforming it into electricity. However, solar shingle requires a roof substratum
that can handle a large amount of heat gain as compared to conventional
shingle. More heat gain from solar shingle roof increases attic and building
cooling loads and reduce roof durability. The proposal will conduct an
experiment by applying electrical sensors to a mockup roof to collect data and
analyze the temperature profile, roof temperature fluctuation, and heat flow of
solar shingle roof. It will also analyze the electricity generated by the solar
shingle roof, and identify the energy savings from solar shingle roof and extra
heating and cooling loads from solar shingle roof. The results of the research
will enrich the thermal feature studies in solar shingle roofs, and promote
thermally efficient, economically viable, and structurally sound next
generation roofing materials.
of Salt Water Intrusion on the Physiology and Biochemistry of Bald Cypress
Cliff Ross, Department of Biology
cypress-based ecosystems are among the most important wetland habitats found in
the southern United States. These habitats, along Northeast Florida are
currently being subjected to physiological stress by saltwater intrusion. While
there is an increasing awareness of the effects of global climate change on
coastal ecosystems, the physiological responses and salt tolerance of bald cypress
have not been thoroughly explored. To date, there have been no studies describing
the precise physiological mechanisms employed by Bald Cypress that allow them
to endure short periods under hypersaline exposure. Furthermore, the analysis
of selected metabolites and/or proteins produced in a physiological stress
response can provide a simple and inexpensive means to measure the onset and
magnitude of sublethal stress the plant is experiencing. Thus, stress
“biomarkers” can be used to determine the actual onset of salinity stress,
providing more precision than simply observing post hoc cypress reductions. The
goal of this proposed research is to understand how elevated salinity
influences bald cypress health and to quantify the impact of salt exposure
using metabolic response measurements as stress indicators. This information
can provide physiological threshold values that can be used by resource
managers to identify deleterious habitat alterations for bald cypress in estuaries.
Welling, Department of English
the critical and commercial success of An Inconvenient Truth (2006) demonstrated,
environmental documentaries have come a long way from their humble origins on
the margins of the film industry. In my experience, however, too few of our
students and fellow citizens of the First Coast seem to know that the
eco-documentary genre even exists. I am applying for an Environmental Center
seed grant to help change this situation by designing UNF’s first-ever environmental
film series (for March and April, 2012), which could serve as the foundation
for an annual environmental film festival. Not only would I use the grant to
sponsor free public screenings of five critically-acclaimed documentaries on
crucial environmental topics (food, energy, oceans, extinction, and
sustainability), but I would invite students, faculty members, and community
experts to serve on panels associated with each film. I would also create a Web
site both to advertise the films and to promote discussion of them. Finally,
depending on his availability, I would use part of the grant to host Curt
Ellis, one of the stars/directors of King Corn (2008), at the screening of his
film, and in at least one meeting with students.
Photo Identification in the Jacksonville Area
the Extent of Laurel Wilt Disease on Two Native Species of Bay Trees Tree on
the UNF Campus.
wilt disease is often a fatal infection caused by a non-native fungus
(Raffaelea lauricola) that is spread from tree to tree by an exotic beetle
(Xyleborus glabratus). Trees are inoculated with the fungus during gallery
formation by adult beetles; females lay eggs in these galleries and the beetle
larvae feed on the fungal hyphae - eventually fungal growth plugs the
water-conducting xylem vessels of the plant causing the leaves to brown and
wilt; typically, the tree will eventually die from the infection. Both the
beetle and the fungus are believed to have originated in Asia and arrived in
the United States in wooden packing materials or pallets over a decade ago.
Although the disease was first noticed to affect the red bay trees in 2002
around Savannah, Georgia it has rapidly spread throughout the southeastern
coastal plain of the U.S. including South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. This
disease has the potential to cause both ecological and economic damage because
the laurel family of trees includes both native trees such as red bay (Persea
borbonia) and swamp bay (P. palustris), but also commercially important species
such as avocado (P. americana). While loss of a commercial product such as
avocado is relatively easy to estimate, ecological impacts of declining native
bay trees is more problematic; red bay in particular is an important food plant
for native animals such as the Palamedes swallowtail butterfly.
Charles Closmann, Department of History
am requesting a seed grant to fund the planning of a senior seminar on the
environmental history of the St. Johns River. More specifically, I seek funding
to cover the costs of designing a course that will rely heavily upon oral
interviews to explore the evolving relationship between the river and the
communities that have lived along this river over the last fifty years.
is a worthy project for several reasons. Most importantly, by exploring how
different stakeholders have interacted with the river over time, we can uncover
more profound lessons about society's attitude toward nature in the last half
century. We can also learn from the local knowledge and experience of those
politicians, commercial fishermen, and environmentalists who have made the river
a central part of their professional lives. Finally, this project will result
in digitally recorded, transcribed interviews that will become part of a
traveling exhibit sponsored by the St. Johns Riverkeeper, an important
organization dedicated to preserving the river and its history.
purposes of this proposed project are to 1) increase young children’s knowledge
of plants and their role in the environment thereby addressing the knowledge
gap that exists for many young, at-risk children; 2) introduce scientific learning
through hands-on instructional experiences; and 3) examine concept development in
young children as it relates to the role of plants in the environment. The
long-term goal is to create a seasonal fruit and vegetable garden that will be maintained
by the children, teachers, and families. The garden will be a source of a
variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and will enable the children to engage
in hands-on learning experiences focused on scientific inquiry, the life cycle
of plants, plants as a food source, and the environmental benefits of plants.
This project will be implemented at All About Kids, Inc., a childcare center
that serves children who reside in high-needs neighborhoods, and will include
approximately 50 three- and four-year-old children and four teachers. All About
Kids has also been included in the Jacksonville Journey, a city-wide initiative
that has a component to improve early literacy.
Christopher Johnson, Department of Economics and Geography
is a multidisciplinary, community based TLO that will offer students the
opportunity to learn about the problem of poverty and homelessness through a partnership
with the Clara White Mission for the Homeless (located in downtown
Jacksonville). Students will design and implement a sustainable organic garden
in connection with the Culinary training program offered by Clara White. This
TLO will involve UNF students interacting with Clara White Culinary Arts
program participants as they implement a model organic garden and develop a
detailed plan of how the Clara White Mission could implement organic gardening
to sustain their various food assistance programs. The project will require UNF
students from multiple academic disciplines to work on key aspects of the
project. Student participants in the TLO will work directly with a faculty
mentor in their respective disciplines and contribute to a detailed written
plan of how the Clara White Mission should proceed with successfully expanding
the model created during the semester, while participants can expand the model
to his/her respective community.
Erin Largo-Wight, Department of Public Health
and promoting healthy places is an important focus of environmental health.
Nature contact is a central component to the study and promotion of healthy
places. Currently, there are no published measures of nature contact, which
hinders study and application. This study was designed to refine and test my
preliminary instrument to measure nature contact at work, the preliminary
Nature Contact Questionnaire (NCQ). The NCQ will be modified based on new
evidence and my preliminary findings. An expert panel will review the revised instrument
for face validity. A census of UNF office staff with specific job codes (n=244)
will be invited to participate in a test-retest study to assess the
instrument’s reliability and validity. It is expected that the revised NCQ will
represent a valid and reliable measure of nature contact at work. The survey
will allow researchers and practitioners to measure forms of nature contact to
fill gaps in research and best inform practice and design of healthy places.
Cliff Ross, Department of Biology
important seagrass species are susceptible to periodic outbreaks of ‘wasting
disease’ that trigger rapid population declines and create a notable loss of
vital habitat required for other organisms. Wasting disease has been associated
with the presence of an opportunistically pathogenic slime mold of the genus
Labyrinthula. This organism is ubiquitous in seagrass beds and periodically,
for unknown reasons, becomes a virulent pathogen that is capable of destroying
plant tissue. Although there is an increasing awareness of the impacts of
diseases in the marine environment, the elucidation of marine plant defense
responses against invading pathogens is just emerging. Resistance to disease
with respect to plant innate immunity has not been investigated in seagrasses
and is important for understanding how plant pathogen interactions occur in the
marine environment, and to offer insight as to how immunity evolved in plant
systems. There are currently no reported studies that accurately quantify the
physiological impacts of disease on seagrasses that have been pre-exposed to
environmental stressors (e.g. elevated salinity, elevated temperature, reduced
light). The goal of this proposed research is to understand how elevated
salinity influences seagrass susceptibility to Labyrinthula and to quantify the
impact of infection using physiological and metabolic response measurements as
Dr. Joe Butler
Dr. James Gelsleichter
Dr. Lori Lange
Dr. Michael Lentz Dr. Dale Casamatta
Dr. Daniel Moon
Dr. Joe Butler, Department of Biology
Gopher tortoises are listed as a Threatened Species in Florida due to extreme human pressure to develop their habitats coupled with their low natural reproductive potential. Previous researchers have predicted the extinction of this species within the 21st century. I have begun a project with several undergraduate and graduate students in the Pumpkin Hill State Preserve that includes locating and marking tortoise burrows on the 19,000 acre property. The protected status of this environment offers a unique opportunity to study this dwindling species over the long term. I propose to continue the burrow marking through September 2007 and add several other aspects to the work. A simple burrow count will allow us to offer a population estimate. In mid-April we will begin bucket trapping for tortoises several days each week. We will determine the sex, and will weigh, measure, mark and release all captured tortoises. These data will allow us to calculate a sex ratio and estimate the demographics of the population. From mid-May through the end of June we will cease trapping in order to allow tortoises to deposit nests. During that time we will search burrow aprons for nests. If we locate at least 10 or 12 nests, we will cover half of them with nest protectors to deter predators. All will be monitored to determine the extent of nest predation, and the successful ones will be used to determine the incubation period.
Dr. Daniel Cox, Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Joseph Campbell, Mechanical Engineering
Dr. James Fletcher, Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Alexandra Schonning, Mechanical Engineering
Solar Splash has existed for fourteen years under the authority of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the sponsorship of various corporate benefactors. The goal of the competition is to design and build a solar-powered boat that will have a successful balance of speed, agility, and endurance as measured by three different competitions. The competition courses are a sprint, slalom, and distance (endurance) course, each emphasizing different aspects of ship design in a broad range of operating conditions while using solar irradiance as the energy source. Power, length, and stability standards must be adhered to, as well as requiring a technical paper, a presentation, and an inspection of the students' workmanship. The overarching project goal is an introduction to an energy-sustainable design process for the mechanical and electrical engineering students. The students also get a chance to explore alternative energy sources that will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels in a nontraditional application. The project acts as a bridge to the engineering profession and the community in general to show that the use of alternative energy can be fun and exciting and not just a particular choice for the future.At UNF, the project emphasizes the commitment of the School of Engineering to the instruction of "green" engineering to our students. This multiyear project matches the University's commitment to "green education" and interfaces nicely with the JEA Energy Laboratory (under the direction of Dr. James Fletcher), a facility dedicated and funded by JEA to bring "clean and green engineering" projects to the student of the College of Computing, Engineering, and Construction.The present UNF team seeks to establish a multiyear program to design, build, redesign, and modify increasingly competitive entrants to the Solar Splash student design project. It is seeking support (see the Proposed Budget section) from the Environmental Center for the remainder of the 2006-07 academic year, with the recognition that the project will continue for a number of following academic years but using, in those years, its own funding sources. It is believed that by the end of the 2007-08 academic year, the succeeding Solar Splash teams can then sustain the project, in conjunction with the Center, but without needing its direct funding support.
Dr. Nick Hudyma, Civil Engineering
Dr. Tayeb Guima, Electrical Engineering
Dr. Dean Krusienski, Electrical Engineering
Dr. Alan Harris, Electrical Engineering
Retention ponds are routinely constructed to contain runoff rainwater from highway systems. In central Florida, dry retention ponds are often used because the natural sand acts as a filter and the treated runoff rainwater can recharge shallow unconfined aquifers. Since the retention ponds are gravity fed, they must be constructed at a lower elevation than the highway systems. The excavation required for construction brings the bedrock surface closer to the ground surface and increases sinkhole activity. The formation of sinkholes undermines the effectiveness of dry retention ponds and allows unfiltered runoff rainwater to pollute shallow groundwater resources.This collaborative project brings together civil and electrical engineers to design, develop, and test a low-cost, remote sinkhole monitoring system which will incorporate radio-frequency identification technology. The system will be tested in both a laboratory setting and field setting. If sinkhole development can be remotely monitored, crews can be proactive and repair the forming sinkholes before unfiltered water can pollute shallow groundwater resources.
Dr. Janice Hunter,
Florida Institute of Education
Ms. Frances Gupton, The Don Brewer Early Learning and Professional Development Center
The Young Naturalists project focuses on increasing the background knowledge and concept development of 3- and 4-year-old children (n = 55) enrolled in three classes at the Don Brewer Early Learning and Professional Development Center. This study builds on the work of, Novak & Gowin (2004), Zimmerman (2005), Hirsch (2006), and Neuman & Celano (2006) regarding concept mapping, elementary science learning, and the knowledge gap of at-risk, young children. Learning experiences will involve plants and their role in the environment. Instructional activities will include advance organizers or statements of scientific beliefs to guide the children's investigations. Investigations will include activities such as determining the effects of fertilizer on plant growth. Building background knowledge will be emphasized as the children engage in concrete experiences with plants in a butterfly garden to be developed on the center's grounds. Vocabulary development will be emphasized through read aloud activities based on environmental books purchased with grant funds. Concept mapping will be used to document the hierarchical relationships described by the children before, during, and after learning experiences have been initiated. Instructional materials, teacher training materials, and family involvement materials will be made available to other child care centers, especially those in high-needs neighborhoods.
Dr. Dale Casamatta, Department of Biology
Viruses are a ubiquitous and important component of every ecosystem. There are as many as 50,000,000 virus particles in 1 milliliter of seawater. Despite this abundance, we know very little about virus diversity in most ecosystems, and virtually nothing is known of the viral component of the critical aquatic ecosystems of northeast Florida. Recent advances in DNA technology provide new tools to explore virus genetics on a scale not previously possible. This proposal will fund a pilot project for a new initiative at UNF to explore the viral diversity of the aquatic systems of northeast Florida. Our objective is to demonstrate the feasibility of concentrating, cloning, and direct DNA sequencing of virus isolates from local aquatic ecosystems. It is hypothesized that many harmful algal blooms eventually die off through viral infection. A thorough understanding of this component of the ecosystem will be critical for predicting and managing future algal blooms and their potential economic impact. Our long term project will sample the genetic diversity of the viral populations in fresh- and near-shore saltwater ecosystems in northeast Florida.
Dr. Peter M. Magyari, Clinical & Applied Movement Sciences
Mr. Ryan Myers, Eco Adventure
This project is designed to encourage University of North Florida students to experience the natural assets of the UNF campus while increasing physical activity and gaining experience utilizing Environmental Science Technologies in a recreational and educational atmosphere.Health practitioners and academics in Community Health have been lamenting for years about how technological advancements have lead to the reduction in leisure time physical activity in America's youth. Our challenge has been finding ways to utilize technology in a manner that encourages physical activity in a segment of the population that is drawn to technology for their leisure time pursuits. GeoCaching is a widely popular environmental adventure game where players use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology to locate a hidden object (cache) based on its longitude and latitude coordinates. These caches are often located in relatively remote areas that require the player to hike in a short distance and then hike back out again. Players will typically walk several miles in a search session.We propose to offer students the opportunity to check out a OPS unit and pedometer through the Eco Adventures program and complete a questionnaire that relates caches found, information learned, and distance walked during each session.
Dr. Dale Casamatta, Department of Biology
Algae form the basis of nearly all aquatic primary productivity. Further, the algal community composition can significantly impact the rest of the food web, as toxic, noxious or inedible forms cause trophic cascades impacting the rest of the community. Thus, in order to characterize aquatic ecosystems it is imperative that the algal composition be understood. The purpose of this grant proposal is to catalogue the algal community from the water-bodies located in the Sawmill Slough Preserve on campus. To that end we will intensively collect samples from peak growing times (early spring through the summer), and sample more infrequently (monthly) the rest of the year. This project will utilize supervised undergraduate and graduate students and lead to the establishment of a campus aquatic inventory.
Invasive species are second only to habitat destruction as a cause of extinctions of native species in the United States. Invasive species can also have negative economic impacts due to their interactions with economically important native species and with local businesses. Therefore, the monitoring and control of invasive populations is of utmost importance. Within the last six years the Asian green mussel, Perna viridis, has been found in several locations in Florida and Georgia. While it is thought that the spread of P. viridis will be limited due to a lack of tolerable temperatures it is likely to spread throughout Florida where it has the potential to displace local native species such as oysters and other bivalves. Furthermore, Green Mussels are acknowledged fowlers of both sea going ships and the intakes of power plants and other industries. Therefore, it is important to document the spread of these newly established populations.This project has three foci: 1) determine the rate, distance and direction of dispersal of larvae from the currently established populations; 2) determine their reproductive cycle; 3) assess the population genetics of the known populations to determine if they were individually established.
Dr. Dominik Güss, Department of Psychology
This proposal will fund small, personal spending accounts for biology students enrolled in graduate environmental physiology. This course will be taught by me in spring 2006. An understanding of physiology is essential for environmental biologists to predict how organisms might respond to human-made changes in their surroundings. This course will teach these concepts by guiding students through three independent research projects. The first project will be on human walking, which will show the students how the course will be run. The second project will examine osmoregulation, using fluid transport by the tubules of crickets. The rate of water transport by the tubules will be tracked. This experiment setup can be manipulated by introducing salts or drugs into the bathing saline. The third project will examine thermoregulation in fruit flies, in response to either heat shock or caloric restriction. This well-studied system will be used to teach protein quantification. All projects will teach experimental design and scientific writing. This proposal seeks to augment this experience by giving students small accounts with which to finance their own projects. This will permit learning of budgeting limited funds for biological projects, as well as augmenting their knowledge of environmental physiology.
Dr. Dan Moon, Department of Biology
As part of the Preservation Project Jacksonville, the City of Jacksonville is seeking to restore a number of properties in Duval County. One of the properties given highest priority is Betz Tiger Point Preserve in the northeast part of the county. It is the goal of COJ to restore this pine plantation to the "old Florida" habitat that was present before the anthropogenic disturbance. The goal of the proposed project is to accomplish the critical preliminary steps necessary prior to restoration of the site. There are three primary objectives of the proposed research. First, the habitat type that was present prior to establishment of the slash pine plantation will be determined. Second, a local reference site for this habitat type will be identified. Data on plants, animals and soils at the reference site will be collected in order to establish a "target" outcome for the restoration of Tiger Point. Third, soil conditions present at the Tiger Point site will be compared to soil characteristics at the reference site in order to document any amendments or amelioration required prior to initiation of restoration activities.
Dr. Tony Rossi, Department of Biology
The purpose of this project is to assess the ability of native plant communities to act as natural buffers between for storm water runoff between the proposed "eco-friendly" roadway and the Sawmill Slough Conservation Area on the UNF campus. The project will be conducted in four phases: 1) initial assessment of native plant communities along the proposed roadway prior to construction; 2) construction of "test communities" of native semi-aquatic plants to mitigate negative impacts of storm water runoff on surrounding natural communities from the roadway; 3) propagation of plants and 4) establishment of native plant communities along completed roadway and long-term monitoring. This project is multi-year in scope, a "Seed Grant" will allow me to accomplish the first two goals of the project, while applying for additional funding from external sources to accomplish the last two. Moreover, undergraduate biology majors will be allowed to participate on this project, while acquiring field research experience for college credit. As a result, costs for the initial plant diversity study and construction of the experimental test communities will be greatly reduced.
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