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InsideFebruary 2012

Inside this Issue

Around Campus

Student volunteers serve vital role in CNN debate

The UNF Choral ensemble performed before the nationally televised debate (photo by Michael LeGrand)For one night in January, the University of North Florida was the center of the political universe.

Hundreds of media descended on the campus to cover the CNN Republican Presidential Debate. Thousands of people came to campus to soak in the sights and sounds of a bustling political event. And millions more from across the world watched the live debate, which was broadcast from UNF’s Lazzara Performance Hall in the Fine Arts Center.

Behind the scenes, dozens of UNF students served as vital cogs in keeping the political machine operating efficiently. Their academic backgrounds spanned a variety of disciplines, but they all helped make the debate a success for the University. And each of them came away with valuable hands-on learning experiences that won’t soon be forgotten.

Max Lesser, junior, Communication, runner for CNN

What was your reaction when you heard about the debate at UNF?

I was just excited to hear that the media would be coming to our side of Jacksonville. It’s a cool experience to get our own world out there in the spotlight — in the national media — for everyone to see. When I heard about the opportunity for the school, I made sure to volunteer.

What was your favorite part of your volunteer experience?

The biggest thing I did was act as a runner for the CNN photographers. They took the pictures and editors posted them. It was my job to make sure they got the pictures. I also did an interview for Channel 4 where I got to speak about my experiences helping out with the debate. That was definitely my favorite part because I found it online and sent it to my parents and family.

You want to get into public relations, so how did this experience help?
Being among all these major news people was the best experience I could have ever hoped for. I mean, when does a student have an opportunity to do something like this? It’s a tremendous learning opportunity, and I’m thankful I was here at UNF to experience it.

Emorja Roberson, junior, Music, sang the National Anthem before the debate with the UNF Chamber Singers

What was it like to perform the National Anthem with UNF’s Chamber Singers?
It was an excellent performance to gain experience and perspective about what I hope to be doing in the future. I’ve performed for a lot of people before — I performed for the governor multiple times in high school — but never something of this magnitude. Millions of people were watching when we took the stage. It’s amazing that we had that opportunity.

How did you prepare for your performance?

Our conductor, Dr. Cara Tasher, informed us Wednesday that we’d have the chance to perform before the debate. I felt a rush. The chamber singers are a prepared group, and we perform regularly. But this opportunity was huge. We demoed our performance to check voice quality and make sure it was good for TV. And that was about it, other than checking to make sure everyone was on the same page. We’ve done this a lot, so it’s more about making sure you stick to your training. You had to make sure you were on point and didn’t have your voice crack. With all of us together, we were fine.

Paula Mercado, senior, Communication, checked people in with the Presidential Envoys

How did this event differ from the other events you’ve worked with the Presidential Envoys?
It differed from any other event I have done with the Envoys because it was my first time working with a nationally recognized news organization such as CNN. This was also the first time that we have had the opportunity to be so involved in the preparation for an event. Working behind the scenes during the week with CNN, and sitting in the front row of a political debate was an experience unlike any other! My volunteer job duties consisted of making copies of seating charts, sectioning off and designating spots in the Lazzara Theater. I also assisted the production crew by providing transportation to picking up camera equipment needed for the debate. The duties varied daily, and CNN definitely kept us on our toes.

What do you think about having the opportunity to get hands-on learning experiences at such an important political event?

I really appreciate the opportunity to get a hands-on learning experience working behind the scenes of a large event. I am majoring in communication and my concentration is public relations, so coordinating events is a crucial facet of my studies. I can apply the skills that I learned this week to my future career. The experiences I have gained in the past week have given me tools that I will utilize in my future endeavors.

Marija Diceviciute, senior, Political Science, volunteered during CNN’s live dial testing at UNF Jan. 21

Do you feel like this experience helped prepare you for potential job experiences?
Will it help me in the future? Absolutely! Whether I will be writing a research paper for one of my future classes or arguing the case on various political matters in the U.S Supreme Court, I know I will be revisiting my notes and my knowledge. There is no insignificant event in my world. Everything we do has a domino effect. I have worked political events in the past, in the states and in my home in Lithuania. However, none of my experiences up to this point could compare to this, and the extent of national exposure that UNF received for the GOP debate was great. It was an overwhelmingly pleasant and informative experience.

Around Campus

Jacksonville family receives Christmas miracle from Internet benefactors

Little Boy with arms wide openSanta took on an unexpected form this Christmas for a Jacksonville family in need of some holiday cheer.

Instead of a merrily pudgy fellow in a red-and-white suit, the Gonzalez family’s personal Santa is a cute little alien with orange circles for eyes and a crooked antenna popping out of his head.

He’s the alien, the mascot for the social news aggregation website that boasts an incredibly devoted online community.

He’s also a new symbol of hope for 3-year-old Lucas Gonzalez and his family after an unprecedented outpouring of support from Internet Good Samaritans across the globe.

“Words can’t describe what these people did for my family,” said Luis Gonzalez, Lucas’ father. “This is definitely a Christmas we won’t forget.”

Keeping Lucas safe

Lucas was born with a rare genetic disorder that makes his immune system far more porous than that of a normal toddler. His body is susceptible to infections, and his parents have to keep his world as sterile as possible to ward off germs. His brother, 1-year-old Liam, doesn’t share the same condition.

Lucas’ parents, Beth and Luis, have been together since high school and through college at the University of North Florida. Beth received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2000 and a master’s degree in educational leadership in 2006. She works for Duval County Public Schools. Luis graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in history and works as a digital media specialist with the Florida Times-Union.

They said it’s been an ongoing struggle keeping Lucas safe and healthy while still allowing him to experience life like any normal 3-year-old.

“We can’t let him be around a lot of kids at once,” Beth said. “We have to be very careful what we expose him to. It’s tough because we want to give him the best life we can and not have to shield him from everything.”

The key to Lucas’ future is a bone marrow transplant from the specialists at Duke University in North Carolina. But it comes with a hefty price tag.

His parents estimated they would need about $50,000 for the procedure — enough to cover the transplant and provide for the family while they’re out of state. Both parents will leave their jobs for about six months as Lucas undergoes and recuperates from the procedure.

Reddit to the rescue

They scheduled a few local fundraisers and received a number of donations from friends and family, but the $50,000 mark seemed like a pipe dream.

That’s when the Gonzalez family turned to the Internet.

They posted a series of pictures in late November to with Lucas holding cue cards elaborating on his condition. The images struck a chord, and Lucas’ story was promoted to the top slot of Reddit, garnering thousands of page views from Internet users nationwide.

“We kind of figured, ‘why not?’” Luis said. “There’s no harm in trying, even though Lucas made it seem like we were doing something terrible to him by making him sit still and hold those cards. Once it was posted, though, it started taking off.”

It was only a few hours before the donation box started trending upward. It went from $1,000 to $15,000 in only a few hours. By hour 12, they were at $32,000.

They eventually ended up with close to $60,000, a sum they’re still trying to comprehend.

“It’s hard to even process,” Beth said. “We were thinking we were going to take on a lot of debt to make this happen. But, now, all we’re going to have to worry about is making Lucas better. It’s the best gift any of us have ever received.”

Although Lucas doesn’t fully understand the gravity of those donations, he said he was happy about receiving the support of Reddit’s philanthropic users, or “computer people,” as he called them.

“They’re nice,” he said, looking up briefly from his toy train set to field a couple questions.

Luis repaid Reddit’s kindness by getting the site’s alien logo tattooed on his right arm. There’s just one slight alteration — a bold red heart emblazoned on the alien’s chest.

“I wish I could personally thank each and every person who helped my family,” he said. “They did more for us than we could have ever hoped for. They’re a part of our family now.”

Around Campus

Student research group challenges JSO crime stats

UNF criminology students, under the tutelage of Dr. Michael Hallett, challenged JSO on crime statistics (photo by Nick Uselman)Jacksonville no longer carries the dubious title as “murder capital of Florida,” according to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office interpretation of recently released Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics.

A group of University of North Florida criminology students, under the tutelage of Criminology and Criminal Justice Department Chair Michael Hallett, begs to differ.

After an exhaustive, semester-long content analysis of state crime data from the past few years, the four-student research team presented their findings during a community discussion on campus in late November. Per 100,000 people, second place Duval County’s murder rate people is 8.99, with Miami-Dade’s leading at 9.03.

The student team, which includes criminology students Laura Davie, Robert Farley, Kevin Larose-Renner and Sigrid Wellhausen, said their work makes it clear — the difference between Jacksonville and Miami is statistically insignificant and shouldn’t be trumpeted as a full-scale crime dip for the First Coast.

“The statistics speak for themselves,” Farley said. “And even if we might be comparable to other cities in terms of the violent crime rate, gun crimes here are far higher.”

Farley said the team’s research determined Duval County has an 85 percent higher rate than the state average for crimes committed with a firearm, close to a 50-percent spike from the previous year.

Their studies built off many of the themes present in the documentary film, “The 904,” which was produced by WJCT’s Melissa Ross. The presentation was titled “The 904 Project” and featured clips from the movie.

“We wanted to give the students the chance to open up the conversation,” Ross said. “Dr. Hallet has been a frequent guess on the radio show, and in the course of him coming to the station and talking about city issues, we started talking about ways to keep the focus on crime in Duval County. And with the topics that were touched on in the film, the students used that as a jumping off point for their research.”

The project was funded through a $5,000 Presidential Scholar’s Grant for community-based learning initiatives, Hallett said.

He spoke highly of the University’s emphasis on boosting transformational-learning opportunities for students in and out of the classroom, saying the access to community-based projects is key for students looking to break into criminology.

“Projects like this give students a stake in their community, their city,” he said. “It raises the profile of their work and gives them a true sense of accomplishment when they see their research being disseminated to the community. That experience is invaluable.”

The team’s presentation was held in the Student Union ballroom and attended by multiple local leaders, including Duval County Public Defender Matt Shirk, Jacksonville civil rights pioneer Alton Yates and multiple city council members and law enforcement officials.

“Students don’t often get this kind of audience for their work,” Hallett said. “It’s not just their professors and peers reviewing their research, it’s the entire city of Jacksonville. It shows UNF is an important part of the community discussion on crime and everything in between.”

Around Campus

Student builds energy drink brand with SBDC assistance

feb fighter energyThe long hours and taxing shifts as a sonar technician and search-and-rescue diver at Mayport Naval Station were draining.

Coffee didn’t cut it when he needed to stay alert and focused. Neither did those sugary, massively caffeinated energy drinks.

So, Brian Smith, a University of North Florida marketing junior, decided to create his own energy drink using dissolvable tablets made with simple ingredients and fewer additives. He’s even created an entire company — Fighter Energy — to sell the tablets online.

“It’s an alternative for those who don’t want the normal methods of getting your caffeine — a cold cup of office coffee or stacking those energy drinks with all the sugar,” he said.

The brand message — my world, my fight — isn’t necessarily a call to arms, Smith said. Even though the mixed martial arts community has embraced the product, Smith said the message is more about personal empowerment.

And when Smith was looking for a way to further empower his company, he turned to UNF’s Small Business Development Center.

Kevin Monahan, a certified business analyst and special projects director for the SBDC, said Smith approached him last March in the hopes of boosting his business acumen and establish his brand.

Smith began by taking a business startup course at the SBDC and received training and business counseling from Monahan.

Even during the early stages of building his business, Monahan said Smith’s approach was far more nuanced than many other small businesses he’s helped.

“Brian didn’t come to me and the SBDC with an idea or a plan, he came with the finished product in a point-of-purchase box and packaging,” Monahan said. “He funded this out-of-pocket and has already put in a tremendous amount of work. That shows that he got a great chance to success because getting over the initial hump is what separates a lot of successful businesses from the not-so successful businesses.”

That UNF-based training — at the SBDC and in the classroom — paired with Smith’s shoe-leather business building work has helped establish Fighter Energy as an up-and-coming player in the world of effervescent supplements.

His brand is now being sold by a number of different distributors — most notably

And UNF will continue to aid in the company’s continued growth.

Dr. Lakshmi Goel, who teaches information systems at the Coggin College of Business, is going to work with Smith and some of her students to help develop a social media plan for Fighter Energy.

Smith said the University-based assistance has been integral as he the learns ropes of entrepreneurship.

“This education I’m getting at UNF will be just as important as the connections I’ve made here,” he said. “From the classroom to the SBDC, they give you everything you need to be successful and point you in the right direction. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them.”

The SBDC offers individual counseling for area business owners and entrepreneurs. The center serves 18 different counties and offers workshops and classes for participants. More information is available by contacting the SBDC at (904) 620-2476.

Around Campus

UNF students’ gopher tortoise research camera digs deep

feb gopher tortoiseIt might seem a little rude to just barge into someone’s home.

But a pair of University of North Florida students has designed a robotic research device that can rumble down into gopher tortoise habitats and help track the protected species' population.

Biology major Alexandra Legeza worked in tandem with engineering graduate Kevin Nguyen to design a mobile rover with cameras that can be used to delve into deep burrows and relay images to a researcher’s laptop.

The design is simple but intuitive — a basic video game controller handles the movement, and the robot’s rough tracks are capable of pushing it over tough terrain.

UNF engineering assistant professor Alan Harris, who helped the students in their pursuit of a Transformational Learning Opportunity grant, advised on the design.

The robot was funded through a $4,000 grant from the Environmental Center, Harris said.

Legeza said the robot offers a less invasive way of gauging the species’ population. While it might be a little intrusive to gopher tortoises resting snugly in their burrows, the old ways of counting tortoises in burrows usually involved trapping them or negatively impacting their habitat.

“It’s way less hurtful to the tortoises this way,” she said.

UNF biology professor Joe Butler, who assisted Legeza with her research, said there’s a real need for gopher tortoise population numbers because of years of incorrect estimates.

He said researchers would often count the burrows they spotted and extrapolate how many tortoises were present using an old formula. It was an imprecise measure at best, and it led to overestimates of the population, he said.

“There are far fewer than what was once thought,” Butler said. “And that’s why this robot is important because it gives researchers the ability to get a far more accurate reflection of the total population.”

Legeza has already taken the robot down close to a fourth of the Sawmill Slough Preserve’s estimated 400 burrows. UNF’s Wildlife Sanctuary stretches about 1,300 acres and is home to dozens of native flora and fauna.

Legeza said working in the natural beauty of UNF’s Wildlife Sanctuary was a major boon for her research. She said she enjoys hiking the nature trails with her robotic helper in tow.

“There aren’t many universities that can say their campus is the laboratory, but at UNF, all you need to study biology is out here,” she said. “It’s a major advantage for those of us who really want to get out in the field and get that experience under our belts. We don’t even have to leave campus!”

Her partner in the project, Nguyen, is no stranger to taking his classroom training and applying it to real-world projects. He worked with two other UNF students last year in the creation of a watch that monitors heart-rate variability at the request of a famed internal medicine doctor from New Hampshire. Click here to read more. 

He said the experience gained from doing work that transcends the classroom was the most important aspect of his time at UNF.

“Our professors were always pushing us to think creatively and do things that could be useful outside the classroom,” Nguyen said. “We were never confined. And that kind of work looks good to employers. We’re not doing things for a professor that’ll never see the light of day. We’re doing work for customers, basically. That’s practical, real-world experience right there.”

Around Campus

Delaney Professorship generates benefits for students

feb professorshipIn the academic word, professorships are frequently referred to as essential elements in recruiting and retaining talented faculty members.

Consequently, they are sometimes viewed as perks primarily benefiting faculty. However, a close examination of just one UNF professorship illustrates how students are major beneficiaries and explains why their establishment remains a major part of The Power of Transformation campaign.

The Delaney Presidential Professorship was established in 2003 when Joan Wellhouse Newton and her sons, Martin E. Stein Jr., Richard W. Stein and Robert l. Stein made a $500,000 gift to UNF. It is one of two dozen professorships offered at UNF.

Since its establishment, three faculty members have been awarded the professorship, allowing them three years each to undertake innovative projects that have directly benefited hundreds of UNF students.

David Courtwright, a history professor, was awarded the first Delaney Professorship in 2005. He was followed by biology professor Greg Ahearn in 2008. Most recently, philosophy professor Andrew Buchwalter was awarded the professorship in 2011.

Courtwright, who has authored or co-authored a half-dozen historical books, took the opportunity offered by the Delaney Presidential Professorship to research and write “No Right Turn: Conservative Politics in a Liberal America.” Courtwright had been gathering material for this particular book for more than 20 years. He admits the three-year tenure of the professorship gave him the motivation to complete the project.

“It’s like a runner training for the [Gate] River Run,” he said. “After you sign up and pay your entry fee, you become much more serious about training.”

Even the process of preparing his proposal for the professorship served to sharpen his focus, he said.

“I needed to explain exactly what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it.”

However, the political history project dovetailed with his teaching.

“It turned out that a lot of the research that went into the book provided new material for my classes, ‘The United States since World War I’ and ‘The 1960s and Vietnam,’” he said.

Courtwright said he even asked some of his graduate students to read a draft copy of the manuscript as the starting point for class discussions.

The professorship’s research support of $7,500 a year for three years paid for Courtwright’s travel to presidential and national archives. The release time from his normal class load provided time to conduct the research and write the results. Even though he has spent his money and published his book, Courtwright said he will continue to benefit.

“I anticipate that the sources I have discovered and the contacts I have made during the three-year professorship will yield several additional research projects,” he said.

One of those connections led to him serving as guest editor for a special issue of The Journal of Policy History devoted to morality and politics.

Ahearn, who benefitted from the professorship from 2008 to 2011, tells a similar story.

He said the biggest benefit of the professorship for him was it allowed for more time in the lab with his students. Ahearn used some of the funds provided in the professorship to purchase chemicals and other critical supplies needed to run research programs in the lab. The funds, coupled with the reduced class load, made it possible to work more closely with students, he said.

“I was able to help them to more rapidly complete their own research projects and graduate a bit faster than they might otherwise have done,” Ahearn said.

As for Ahearn, the professorship made possible his research into nutrient physiology in aquaculture species of crustaceans. He researched aquaculture activities in the U.S. and abroad and the role the industry plays in providing protein to meet the demands of a growing world population.

During the professorship’s three years, Ahearn and his students were able to attend a number of scientific conferences and make presentations of the results of their work.

Both undergraduate and graduate students participated in the research and are in many cases listed as co-authors in several scientific publications.

“It was a great experience for me and my students, and I think it really adds a wonderful dimension to this University that was not available before its introduction,” he said.

Buchwalter, the newest recipient of the Delaney Professorship, said it will enable him to explore core themes in the field of “practical philosophy.” This field is central to the department’s master’s program in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics and several of the major and minor concentrations in the department’s undergraduate curriculum, he said.

“During my tenure, I will employ the tools of practical philosophy to consider two issues of central importance both to contemporary political theory and current social life — the place of religion in the public sphere and the idea of global justice,” he said.

Buchwalter added his research will be a great boon to his teaching at UNF by allowing him to update his current offerings and create new courses, while involving students in cutting-edge scholarship.

“Central to the project is the question of what it means to be a citizen, both in liberal democratic societies and as members of a global community,” he said. “It is my expectation that the resources made available by the professorship will assist me in fostering student thought and action on the meaning of citizenship in the world today.”

Buchwalter’s work thus adds to the work of Courtwright and Ahearn in benefitting UNF students and creating a challenging academic atmosphere that makes transformational experiences possible.

To date, The Power of Transformation Campaign has raised more than $15 million for professorships throughout the University, guaranteeing many more faculty and their students will benefit in future generations.

Around Campus

CNN legal analyst to talk shop with pre-law students

feb toobin 1Jeffrey Toobin, a senior legal analyst for CNN and staff writer for The New Yorker, will be speaking at the University of North Florida at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 at the University Center as part of the Pre-law Lecture Series.

Tickets are free but must be reserved through the University’s e-ticketing system. To check availability, just click here. Parking is also free.

Toobin is one of the country’s top experts on politics, media and the law. With a deep knowledge of the law and serious journalistic skills, Toobin has provided analysis on some of the most provocative and important events of the past few decades.

At the podium, Toobin provides an often humorous but always insightful look at the inner workings of the Supreme Court and its influence, as well as how upcoming elections will shape the Court and the nation.

Toobin received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Toobin served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, New York. He also served as an associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, an experience that provided the basis for his first book, “Opening Arguments: A Young Lawyer’s First Case—United States v. Oliver North.”

At The New Yorker since 1993, Toobin has written articles on the Bernie Madoff scandal, the case of Roman Polanski, profiles of Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, John Paul Stevens and John Roberts. He has also written about the legal implications of the war on terror, the Florida recount, Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton and the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Martha Stewart. Perhaps his most well-known article, and the one that catapulted him into the national spotlight, was “An Incendiary Defense,” which broke the news that the O.J. Simpson defense team planned to accuse L.A. Police Det. Mark Furhman of planting evidence as a means to “play the race card.”

He has authored several books during his long career. Among them are “Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election,” (2001), “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.” (2000) and “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson” (1996). His most recent and most popular is “The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court” (2007).

“The Nine” spent more than four months on the New York Times Best Seller list and was named one of the best books of the year by Time, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly and the Economist. His next book, “The Oath,” a sequel to “The Nine” will be published this fall.

He began his broadcast career at ABC News, where he covered many of the country’s most high-profile cases and received a 2000 Emmy for his coverage of the Elian Gonzales custody case. He joined CNN in 2002.

Around Campus

MOCA Jacksonville explores art of 1960s

feb mocaThe Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a cultural resource of the University of North Florida, turns back the clock to explore one of the most important decades in contemporary art with its latest exhibition, “ReFocus: Art of the 1960s,” on display Saturday, Jan. 28 to Sunday, April 8. 


This exhibition delves into a seminal — and one of the most radical — periods of contemporary art. Literature, art, dance and theater went through a fascinating period of growth and change during the ’60s. Experimental art forms drew new public attention to artistic expression. Trends in the arts reflected both the turbulent social and political events of the time and the influence of artists and writers of an earlier generation.


The decade was marked with conflict. America had been involved in some sort of military conflict for nearly three decades, and it affected how artists saw the world. The Civil Rights Movement and the sexual revolution helped to expand participation in the arts, and these new perspectives brought fresh insights to the field. 


Join MOCA as it explores major movements of the decade: Pop Art, Op Art, Performance Art, Minimalism, Color Field Painting, Hard-Edge and Post-Painterly Abstraction. Experience master works by artists that defined a generation: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.


“Crafted in response to feedback from our Jacksonville community, MOCA’s ‘ReFocus’provides a much needed context and overview of the significant artistic accomplishments of this critical decade,” said MOCA director Marcelle Polednik. “Much like a primer on contemporary art, each exhibition will explore, step-by-step, the most significant art movements of the decade, its key artists, styles, processes and icons.”


In addition to the exhibitions themselves, “ReFocus: Art of the 1960sincludes substantial public programs that further the educational goals of the project. From lectures about art, history and culture to in-gallery tours; from free brochures to on-line content and audio guides, visitors to MOCA will have numerous opportunities to explore this significant period in greater depth and richness. The public program schedule includes:



11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28, Grand Opening of “ReFocus: Art of the 1960s  



Wednesday, Feb. 1, Art Walk

Wednesday, Feb. 1, Film: Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests

7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, Lecture: “What — and When — Were the 1960s?”

2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18, Film: Painters Painting



7 p.m., Thursday, March 1, Panel: ”In Sequence: Pop Art, Comic Books and the High Art of Roy Lichtenstein” Wednesday, March 7, Art Walk

7 p.m., Monday, March 26, Film: The Revenge of the Dead Indians: In Memoriam of John Cage

7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 27, Music: Dutch sound artist Jaap Blonk


MOCA is expanding the exhibition experience beyond the art through a special partnership with the Jacksonville Public Library. From books by Tom Wolfe to music by James Brown, plus films and other materials, the art, artists and culture from each decade come to life. Check out the pop culture universe database, special monthly programming, a selection of books, music and movies by decade and more at


For more information about “ReFocus: Art of the 1960s” and its related activities, visit or call MOCA at (904) 366-6911.

Around Campus

Philanthropy Week spreads campus good will

feb philHave you met PHIL on campus? You probably have and you don’t even know it.

PHIL is everywhere — in the classroom; on the basketball court; at the library; in the Student Union. PHIL is even off studying abroad.

PHIL stands for philanthropy, and the Student Philanthropy Council is dedicated to spreading the message of the importance of the concept and the vital role it plays at UNF. Last month, the council organized a series of events as part of “All About Philanthropy Week” at UNF. The events introduced PHIL as a character the council developed to represent philanthropy at UNF. Activities included a trivia challenge, thank-you card writing to UNF donors, free pizza and cookies, a photo booth and an appearance by Ozzie. More than 200 students dropped by council’s table outside the Student Union.

Christina Vieira, a member of the council, said she took part in the awareness program because she’s had amazing experience so far at UNF and wanted to give back to future students so they can have similar opportunities.

A junior marketing major from Titusville, Vieira said students have a responsibility to make fellow students aware of the role philanthropy plays in higher education today.

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” she said, explaining her willingness to spread the message.

She noted many students are unaware that tuition and state funding only cover a portion of UNF’s operating budget. In academic year 2010-2011, the state contributed 31 percent of UNF’s revenue, while tuition and fees accounted for another 24 percent.

Another Philanthropy Council member, Devi Maniram, said giving back to UNF also has benefits for graduates.

“Gifts to the University actually help raise UNF’s rankings in national publications, which in turn increase the value of our degree,” she said.

The junior from Clermont said her education was made possible in part by generous alumni who have gone before her.

“Now it is our turn to support future generations of Ospreys and most importantly, continue the tradition of giving back,” she said.

Sophomore Ryan Traher believes philanthropy is incredibly important because “this world we live in would not function if it were not for the generosity of selfless individuals.”

Traher, a Nashville native, said his goal in being involved in the Student Philanthropy Council is no different than any other campus organization to which he belongs — improving UNF whenever the opportunity presents itself.

“UNF has so much potential, and I intend to capitalize on that potential to put UNF on the map, bringing new, bright minds that use UNF’s resources to change the world for the better,” he said.

The week’s activities also marked the kickoff of the Senior Class Campaign, which is a united effort by members of the senior class to leave a legacy by giving to UNF in any amount to any program. Seniors who donate $20.12 or more will receive a UNF class of 2012 decal. All donors will also be recognized in the donor honor roll online.


For more information on the Student Philanthropy Council, click here.


UNF history professor helping plan party for the ages

feb francisDr. J. Michael Francis is on a roll.

During the past few months, the United States secretary of the interior appointed Francis, a University of North Florida history professor, to the commemoration commission for St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary celebration. Francis will help plan the city’s biggest celebration ever, and he’ll get to share his passion for Spanish Florida history with the community.

His interest in the dense — and sometimes bloody — history of the so-called “Ancient City” has made him a leading scholar on the region’s history. And his work also garnered the attention of The Chronicle of Higher Education, a leading university-oriented publication, and led to a feature article published in September spotlighting his academic research and involvement with the anniversary. You can read it here.


“It has been a great honor receiving this attention for my work on St. Augustine’s history,” he said. “I’m looking forward to helping with the anniversary and writing some new history for the city. I want this to leave lasting legacy that endures beyond any fireworks.”

Francis, a San Marco resident, has taught at UNF since 1997 and received his doctorate in History from the University of Cambridge. He has written several books and his most recent book, “Murder and Martyrdom in Spanish Florida: Don Juan and the Guale Uprising of 1597” was published this summer by the American Museum of Natural History.

Francis said his inspiration for the book came from a historic document he discovered while doing research for a UNF course on teaching students how to read 16th century Spanish documents.

The text, which was written in St. Augustine in 1598, spoke of the murder of five Franciscan friars and the rescue of another from captivity by some of the region’s indigenous peoples.
Currently, Francis is completing his next book project, “The Martyrs of Florida.”

Francis was named the 2010-2011 Jay I. Kislak Fellow at the Library of Congress. Since last September, he has been a resident scholar at the Library of Congress, where he has continued his research on the early history of Spanish Florida.Since 2008, Francis has served on the editorial board for the University Press of Florida. His numerous awards and honors include a Cushwa Grant from the University of Notre Dame, a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society and the Alfred J. Beveridge Award from the American Historical Society. In 2007, he received a four-year appointment as Research Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. 


Percussion ensemble to put on a show

feb percussionStudents who are part of the University of North Florida Percussion Ensemble will be strutting their stuff on the stage of the Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 as they put on a show for the UNF community.

While it is still very early in the semester, the students have been busy and are ready to put forth an eclectic program of pieces they have invested hours of practice in preparation for concertgoers.

“The students have put a great deal of work into this performance,” said Charlotte Mabrey, a professor and director of the Percussion Ensemble. “They have spent a lot of time and effort into fine-tuning their performances, and I really hope we have a big turnout for them. It will be a lively evening and is perfect for families.”

Some of the pieces the Percussion Ensemble will be performing are the avant-garde marimba solo “Velocities” by William Schwantner and performed by virtuoso player Will Kaczmarek; the snare drum chop buster, “Tornado” by Mitch Markovitch; and the ever-theatrical “Fanfare for Tambourines” by John Alfieri. In between the featured pieces, there will be additional solos and duets that are absolute must-hears. Mabrey will direct.

The event is free and open to the public. It’s family friendly.

Faculty and Staff

august faculty staff

Brooks College of Health

Nursing: Drs. Kathy Bloom and Li Loriz presented a paper entitled “A Collaborative Mentoring Program for Nursing Students At-risk for Academic or NCLEX-RN Failure” at the Sigma Theta Tau International Meeting Nov. 30, 2011 in Grapevine, Texas.


Clincal and Applied Movement Services: Drs. James Churilla and Peter Magyari from the Department of Clinical and Applied Movement Sciences had a manuscript entitled “Muscular Strengthening Activity Patterns and Metabolic Health Risk Among U.S. Adults” publishedin the Journal of Diabetes.


Drs. Churilla and Magyari also had a manuscript published entitled “Resistance Training and Hypertension: Design Safe and Effective Programs” in the January-February 2012 issue of American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal.


Dr. Churilla also had a manuscript entitled “Total Physical Activity Volume, Physical Activity Intensity and Metabolic Syndrome: 1999-2004 NHANES”published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.


Coggin College of Business


Marketing & Logistics: Dr. Adel El-Ansary co-authored the article, “Effects of Social Bonding in Business to Business Relationships,” which appeared in the Journal of Relationship Marketing. 


Deb Miller and Dr. Len Roberson presented “ A Blended Approach to Training Online Faculty” at the 17th Annual Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning in Orlando, Florida.


Dr. Jonathan Pabalate and Erin Soles presented “One Size Does Not Fit All: Meeting the Needs of Students via Several Podcast Solutions” at BbWorld 2011 in Las Vegas in early July.


Dr. A.C. “Josh” Samli has just published his 22nd book, “From Imagination to Innovation.” The book explores the imperative of an innovation culture that made the U.S. a world leader by generating socially valuable products and enhancing quality of life globally.

The aim of the book is to promote the development of products and services that will improve quality of life and simultaneously generate profits for those who invest in them. It is published by Springer Publishing.


College of Computing, Construction and Engineering


Construction Management: Dr. Aiyin Jiang received a matching grant offer from the UNF Environmental Center for Solar Panel Thermal Research. 


James Sorce and Dr. Mag Malek received a TLO award for “Art in Construction – Study Abroad Italy”.


School of Computing: The School of Computing hosted a Student Symposium Dec. 16, 2011. Approximately 90 computer science students showcased their academic work in areas such as artificial intelligence, gaming and mobile applications, operating systems and legal and ethical issues in computing. Approximately 200 people attended, and all participating students received a certificate award. The symposium was co-organized by Lisa Jamba, Katherine Brown, Dr. Ching-HuaChuan, Dr. Sherif Elfayoumy and Dr. Karthik Umapathy.


Dr. Karthikeyan Umapathy and Dr. Ching-Hua Chuan were awarded a TLO for “A Pilot for School of Computing TLO Internship Program.” Dr. Chuan Ching-Hua also received a UNF Summer Proposal Development Grant Award.


Dr. Sanjay Ahuja received a UNF Summer Teaching Development Award.


School of Engineering: Dr. Chris Brown received a TLO award for a “Sustainable Design Field Camp.”


Dr. Paul Eason received a TLO award for the “Ghana Project – Developing World Challenges.”


Dr. Adel El Safty received a UNF Summer Research Development Grant.


Dr. Alan Harris received a UNF Summer Teaching Development Award.



College of Education and Human Service:


Dean’s Office: Drs. Jacque Batey and Marsha Lupi will soon have published “Reflections on student interns cultural awareness developed through a short-term international internship” in Teacher Education Quarterly. This is a comprehensive narrative inquiry study that addresses emerging patterns in the attitudes, behavior and reflections of the American student interns before, during and after an international internship in Plymouth, England. It focuses on the transformation and growth of the students in particular regard to their perception of surface and deep cultural issues.


Center for Studies in Education: Dr. Betty Bennett, director of the Educator Preparation Institute, was interviewed by Melissa Ross on First Coast Connect (WJCT/NPR radio) Dec. 12. The topic was college hazing in the wake of the alleged incident at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), which resulted in the death of drum major Robert Champion.


Exceptional Student and Deaf Education: Did you know that children with a hearing loss are three to four times more likely to experience maltreatment than hearing children? Dr. Caroline Guardino helped lead a weekend seminar titled, “O.U.R. Children: Observing, Understanding, Responding and Preventing Violence Against Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing” at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine. Guardino was accompanied by a team of three colleagues from professional organizations and universities across the nation. Together, the team is making great strides to reduce this statistic and protect deaf and hard of hearing children by educating those who work and live with them.  


Childhood Education: Dr. John Ouyang received a Research Publication Award for his book, “Education,” at the 17th Association of Chinese Professors of Social Sciences (ACPSS) International Conference at Columbia University, New York, Oct. 28 through 30, 2011. He also presented a paper, “Open University of China: Development trends and issues,” at the same conference.


Drs. Katrina Hall, Lunetta Williams and Wanda Hedrick were awarded a UNF Environmental Center 2011-2012 SEED grant for their “Earth Matters Book Club: 3rd Graders and UNF Students.”

Get to Know

Get to Know: Lan Nguyen

Lan Nguyen

Department: Controller’s Office

Job title: Procurement Card Auditor


What do you do at UNF? I audit University Procurement Card transactions recognizing and preventing fraud.


Years at UNF: 19


Tell us about your family: I have a boy and a girl, ages 13 and 10. They are the loves of my life.


Tell us something that would surprise people to know about you: A lot of people don’t know I like to invent things. At this point, I have a product waiting to be patented.      


If you could choose any other career, what would it be and why?

I definitely want to become a Naval Officer, following in my family’s tradition and footsteps.


 What would you like to do when you retire?  

I would like to travel and do some charity works to help those in need if I can. 


What is your favorite thing about working at UNF?  

The campus atmosphere, of course. I especially enjoy interacting with faculty and staff members daily.


What is the best thing you ever won?  

I won $400 dollars one time at the casino.


If you won the lottery, what would do with the money?

That will be the day. I would quit my job, do more charity works and help those less fortunate.


If you were not working at UNF, what would you be doing?  

I came from a long line of military family tradition, so I would probably join the Navy.


What is your favorite way to blow an hour?  

Swimming or play a little golf here and there.


What was the best money you ever spent?  

I spent my saving to send my parents on an Australia vacation trip for their 25th anniversary! It was a total surprise for them. They were totally shocked and had the best time.


What is the proudest/happiest moment of your life? The birth of my kids.


What was the first concert you ever attended, and what was the most recent concert you attended?

I remember the first concert I ever attended was a Pink Floyd live performance that was many moon ago. Since then, I haven’t attended any concert.


What person had the greatest impact on your life?  

My mother. She passed away three years ago. She was a strong-willed person full of love and kindness.


What are you most passionate about?  

I am passionate about life. As we all know — life is short. No matter how we look at it, life is a beautiful gift from God.


Who is the most famous person you ever met? Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he returned to UNF for an honorary degree back in 2005.


Last book read: Don’t laugh, but I spent time with my daughter last night, and we read Wimpy The Kid. It was fun.


august datelineMilestone anniversaries
Congratulations to the following employees who will celebrate a milestone anniversary at UNF in January:
30 years
Elizabeth Clements, Coordinator of Administrative Services, Arts & Sciences

25 years

Margaret Anderson, Office Manager, Purchasing

15 years

Joann Campbell, Associate Vice President Compliance Officer, Administration & Finance
Jeanne Middleton, Assistant Director of Student Affairs, Student Affairs
Joel W. Beam, Associate Professor Clinical & Applied Movement Science 

10 years
Crystal Serrano, Manager of Police Communications, Campus Police

Five years
Michael Kucsak, Director of Library Systems, Library
Phyllis Andruszkiewicz, Director of Development, Library
Patricia Launer, Coordinator of Grants Administration, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
Kevin Garry, Adjunct, Music
Michael Thaxton, Custodial Worker, University Housing 

The following employees were either hired by UNF or were promoted from OPS positions from mid-November to mid-December:

Garry Bates, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance and Energy Management
Darlene Breitenbach, Coordinator of Education Training Programs, Florida Institute of Education
Judy Carter, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Mary Joyce Christmas, Financial Aid Specialist, Enrollment Services Processing Office
Glenda Edwards, Custodial Supervisor, Custodial Services
Candace Ford, Program Assistant, Student Health Services
Franscilla Gibson, Program Assistant, Small Business Development Center
Hollis Klein, Program Assistant, Taylor Engineering Research Institute
Deborah Owen, Instructor, Public Health
Michael Perez, Law Enforcement Officer, University Police Department
Monique Salles-Cunha, Assistant Athletic Coach, Women’s Swimming
Elaine Staley, Director of Medical Laboratory, Biology
Ronald Viafore, Coordinator of Education Training Programs, Florida Institute of Education
Dax Weaver, Coordinator of Research Programs, Florida Institute of Education 

Great job
The following employees were promoted in December.

William Eckert, Coordinator of Library Services, Library
Christine Holland, Senior Instructor, Communication
Keith Hufford, Associate Director, Enterprise Systems
Jennifer Muller, Assistant Director of Admissions, Enrollment Services Processing Office
Scott Peden, Applications Systems Manager, Enterprise Systems
Judith Sherburne, Manager of Student Systems Pro, Enterprise Systems
Daniel Simon, IT Network Engineer, Information Technology Services
Robert Stern, Senior Lecturer, Chemistry
Burr Watters, Applications Systems Manager, Enterprise Systems
Heartfelt well wishes in their new endeavors for the following employees, who left UNF from late-November to early-January:
William Adams, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Steven Arnold, Law Enforcement Officer, University Police Department
Kermella Broadnax, Custodial Worker, Physical Facilities

Kevin Campbell, Head Athletic Coach, Volleyball
Karen Coleman, Instructor, Public Health
Steven Davis, Maintenance Mechanic, Physical Facilities
Brian Endee, Senior Internal Auditor, Internal Auditing
Howell Evans, Assistant Professor, English
Bryan Gometz, Groundskeeper, Physical Facilities
Sanford Gray, Custodial Supervisor, Physical Facilities
Joshua Harwell, Maintenance Mechanic, University Housing
David Henderson, Groundskeeper, Physical Facilities
Lisa Lynch, Grant Specialist, Exceptional Student & Deaf Education
LaZarios McClain, Enrollment Services Specialist, One-Stop Center
M. Middlebrook, Data Processing Associate, Graduate School
Abbe Moody, Coordinator of Academic Support Services, Undergraduate & International Program
Ann Noonan, Associate Professor, Clinical & Applied Movement Sciences

John Pechonick, Senior Laboratory Lecturer, Chemistry
Nicholas Sartor, Coordinator of IT Support, User Services
Ryan Walthall, Assistant Athletic Coach, Volleyball
Ralph Walton, Senior Library Services Associate, Library

The Goods

Salmon: You either love it or think it’s too fishy

feb salmon insideThere has been a lot of research lately about fish in the diet as well as potential health risks and benefits tied to seafood. Dr. Catherine Christie, associate dean in the Brooks College of Health, and Brittaney Bialas, a UNF graduate student/dietetic intern in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program, discuss myths and facts about a fish that people often either love or think is too fishy.


Myth: Eating salmon does not reduce the risk of heart disease.


Fact: Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown in many studies to be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Compared with fish intake of less than once per month, risk of coronary heart disease decreased by 21 percent (one to three times per month), 29 percent (once per week), 31 percent (two to four times per week) and 34 percent (five-plus times per week) in a large study of women from the Nurses’ Health Study.


Myth: There are more omega-3 fatty acids found in wild salmon than in farmed salmon.


Fact: Farmed salmon has just as many omega-3s as wild salmon, if not more. The USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference actually shows ocean-farmed Atlantic salmon have 1.9 grams of omega-3s per serving, whereas wild salmon have 1.2 grams per serving. The amount of omega-3s found in wild salmon depends on the type and amount of algae and plankton they eat. The amount of omega-3s in farmed salmon depends on the feed they are given, which is usually made of plants, grains and fishmeal. The feed given to farmed salmon is composed of enough omega-3s to provide them with equal or higher amounts than what is found in the wild kind. The American Heart Association recommends consuming at least two servings of fish, either farmed or wild, per week to receive health benefits of omega-3s and other important nutrients.


Myth: Cooking salmon destroys its nutrients, so it’s better to eat salmon raw.


Fact: Raw fish contains an enzyme that destroys thiamine, a B vitamin important for energy metabolism and the nervous system. Heat inactivates the enzyme and makes thiamine available to the body. Since fish usually have a quick cooking time at relatively low temperatures, important nutrients such as other B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A are not at great risk for being destroyed.


Myth: Frozen salmon is not as tasty or as healthy as fresh salmon.


Fact: Frozen salmon is not necessarily a poor choice when compared to fresh salmon. Fish that has been frozen can sometimes be fresher than the fish you buy at the seafood counter in a grocery store because it could take days before the fish is delivered from the boat to the marketplace. Many packaged fish from the freezer section are frozen immediately after being caught, which results in preservation of nutrients and prevention of spoilage.


Myth: Salmon skin contains fat and should be removed before cooking.


Fact: The skin of salmon contains a large amount of the healthy omega-3 fats, which get soaked up by the meat when the fish is cooked. Leaving the skin on the salmon when it’s cooking also retains moisture and helps the meat to stay together. The skin is edible, although some believe it has an undesirable fishy taste. To reap the benefits of additional omega-3 fats in your salmon without the extra fishy flavor, add some lemon juice before cooking and then remove the skin before eating.


Myth: Farmed salmon have chemical dyes added to imitate the pink flesh of wild salmon.


Fact: Farmed salmon don’t have chemical dyes added to their flesh. The pink color is a result of the carotenoids, compounds necessary for the fish’s healthy growth and metabolism. Wild salmon get these substances by consuming small algae-eating crustaceans, such as shrimp. Farmed salmon are given the same type of carotenoids through supplementation in their diet. This ensures the farmed salmon receive the nutrients necessary for optimal health, as well as the proper color that would be lacking without the addition of these natural carotenoids. Canned, fresh and frozen salmon are also low in mercury, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Myth: The bones in canned salmon aren’t safe to eat and should always be removed.


Fact: The bones that are usually present in canned salmon are perfectly edible and provide a rich source of calcium. The canning process makes the bones soft enough to chew and mix well with the meat. Some prefer to take out the larger bones and leave the smaller, less noticeable ones. Try the salmon recipe below for salmon cakes. If you use canned salmon, try leaving the bones in for an extra kick of calcium for the day.


Salmon Cakes

Yields: Four servings


14 ounces canned salmon or fresh cooked salmon

1 egg

One-half cup panko bread crumbs

Two tablespoons chopped green onion

One teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil for cooking


1.   Mix the salmon, egg, breadcrumbs, and lemon juice together in a bowl.

2.   Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet.

3.   Scoop out one-fourth of the salmon mixture, flatten into a patty and place onto the heated skillet. Let cook for five minutes, flipping once. Salmon patties should be golden brown.  

Serve over a fresh salad or enjoy as a snack with a dollop of mustard.


Nutritional Analysis per serving:

Calories: 270

Protein: 28 grams

Carbohydrate: 12 grams

Total Fat: 12 grams

Fiber: 2 grams


The Goods is a monthly column about food myths and facts by faculty members in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program and runs in The Florida Times-Union’s “Taste” section. Have a question about salmon? Contact Dr. Christie at 


Healthy Osprey: Strength training helps in weight loss

nov_healthy osprey_insideHow does your body use calories? It’s your lean muscle mass — that muscle underneath your body fat that burns calories 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As you gain muscle, your body gains a bigger generator to burn more calories.


Think about this from a weight loss perspective. Everyone has a layer of muscle under the fat. If you’re eating fewer calories than you use, then those calories are burning fat, but also depleting muscle. As your muscle mass disappears, your metabolism begins to slow. The way to keep and build more of that calorie burning lean muscle is to challenge those muscles with weight-bearing exercises. If you do this, you will be able to maintain the muscle mass you already have while you are losing the fat. Strength-train your way to a slimmer, more lean and healthy body.