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InsideMay 2016

Around Campus

Percussionist debuts new music for final UNF performance

Charlotte Mabrey with UNF OrchestraAs Charlotte Mabrey walked on stage for her April farewell concert - before the percussionist even touched an instrument - the crowd of nearly 750 people at the Lazzara Performance Hall cheered and gave the retiring professor a standing ovation.

When the applause finally died down, and the University of North Florida Orchestra began to play, Mabrey moved from the percussion station of drums to the marimba to the vibraphone and back to the drums to perform four movements of a concerto commissioned in honor of her 30-plus years of service to UNF.

Written by Dr. Piotr Szewczyk, Jacksonville Symphony violinist and award-winning composer, the concerto “Neural Circuits” included movements titled Fight or Flight, Memory, Dream Waves and Connections. The concerto for percussion and orchestra was debuted as the finale for Mabrey's performance career at UNF.

With easily more than 1,000 UNF concerts to her credit, Mabrey has enjoyed many performances and memories through the years; yet she found the response she received for this concert unexpected and moving. And though she spent countless hours since September learning and practicing the music, she couldn't prepare for the evening's outpouring of emotion and love.

“The generosity with which people spoke about me and to take the time they took to honor me, I can't think of a word, maybe the best is ‘other worldly',” Mabrey said. “It was overwhelming.”

Early in the program, several speakers took the stage to share their personal memories of Mabrey. Calling her the “absolute best,” faculty member Michael Taylor credited Mabrey with his career in music and for the many lessons he has learned about teaching and life just by watching his mentor.

“Some of those things are patience - incredible patience with people - compassion towards others, and perseverance,” Taylor said.

Charlotte Mabrey final concertCurrent student Heather Cotney called Mabrey an amazing person who continually brought out the best in students with encouragement and optimism. “This department will never be the same without her,” Cotney said.

Dr. Simon Shiao, professor and orchestra conductor, thanked Mabrey for her steadfast support of the UNF Orchestra. He said that even after 13 years of working at UNF, he was still in awe of Mabrey. “Whenever I see her in the hallway, I have this ‘Wayne's World' moment, and I just feel like ‘I am not worthy,'” he said, as he mimicked the hand movement and bowing, and the audience laughed.

Dr. Randall Tinnin, School of Music director, praised Mabrey's love of her students, her compassion and the impact she has made at UNF.

“Certain people have the souls to teach - that means they have great depth of compassion, they have incredible vision for people … Charlotte, we love you so much, we're so proud of you,” Tinnin told the crowd. “I'm in denial. I mean, seriously … retirement? Who said that was OK? We get to enjoy the tremendous legacy that you left.”

After the concert, Tinnin not only praised her performance versatility and talent but also her nearly 30-year association as principal percussionist with the Jacksonville Symphony, a relationship that she parlayed into a unique partnership with the University.

“We have a lot of community partners that we rely on and the Jacksonville Symphony is probably the oldest and most integrated of those partnerships,” Tinnin said. “You can see that dating back to Charlotte being in the orchestra and on faculty and bringing that partnership together. It has elevated the whole experience for our students.”

Mabrey's legacy at UNF also includes more than 25 years of performing an annual recital titled “An Evening of 20th Century Music.” What started as a small group of performers evolved into a wildly popular event, Tinnin said, one that pulled together faculty, students, symphony members and other Jacksonville artistic performers, including dancers and actors.

Named Distinguished Professor in 2001, Mabrey's duties included teaching applied percussion lessons, percussion techniques and the “Live Music in Jacksonville” lecture class and conducting the UNF Percussion Ensemble, which is active on and off campus.

Mabrey, who calls herself someone who has “never not worked,” doesn't know exactly what to expect from retirement. She plans to continue to perform, perhaps occasionally with the Jacksonville Symphony and other artists, and maybe find some time to travel.

It won't be easy, however, for the professor to leave her students. “For me, making music with my students is like being with family,” she said. “That's my family and that's what I'll miss.”

Around Campus

Four continents down, three to go for marathoner Lucy Croft

Dr. Lucy Croft thumbs upBack in high school, Lucy Croft's guidance counselor flatly told her she wasn't “cut out for college.”

One bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree later, Dr. Lucy Croft, now the associate vice president for student affairs for the University of North Florida, clearly showed that misguided counselor - and the rest of the academic world - what she was capable of. Though she admits she was never a “natural” student, what Croft did have has proven just as essential to her success: self-motivation.

It's that same plucky, stick-to-itiveness that has driven Croft all her career and, in recent years, to take on a personal goal, that of running a marathon on the soil of each of the seven continents. Croft, who joined the administrative ranks of UNF in 2005, already has four of those races under her belt: North America, Europe, South America and, most recently, Antarctica, where Croft traveled in March to take part in the 26.2-mile trek across a stark frozen landscape.

“It was just so quiet … all you could hear were the ripples of the water, the barking of the seals, the cracking of the ice. You're just in nature at its purest form,” Croft said.

The idea for the continental races originated with a challenge Croft and her older sister posed to each other more than a decade ago. The two women decided to begin training for their first marathon in 2004.

At the time, Croft had just earned her doctorate in curriculum development and instruction from the University of Cincinnati, where she also received a master's in community counseling (her BA, in communications and elementary education, was earned at Hanover College in Indiana). It had taken Croft nearly eight years to complete the doctoral program while working full-time at the same university.Dr. Lucy Croft race finish

“So when I finished that, it was almost like I had a void and I needed to fill that void,” Croft said. After training for months leading up to the 2005 marathon in San Francisco (“lots of Power Bars, early mornings and sore muscles” is how Croft described her regimen) the feeling of achievement in completing the race was overwhelming.

“The euphoric high you get when you cross that finish line is second to none,” Croft said.

The youngest of five siblings growing up in Ohio, Croft was brought up in a very athletic family, and she was always involved in one team sport or another. Long-distance running has been a relatively newer pursuit.

“When it seemed like the goal was so out of reach sometimes - to actually do it, there's this great sense of accomplishment, like, ‘Ah, I can finally breathe now,'” Croft said.

In her position with UNF, Croft tries to instill the same kind of inspiration to students, whether encouraging an undergrad to take part in a study abroad program or a graduate student to take on leadership skills in one of the classes she teaches. Croft, who thought earlier in her career she might want to work with elementary-age students, quickly decided the environment of a higher-learning institution was a better fit for her skills and experience.

“The students are just so eager to learn and to be challenged and to make a difference,” said Croft.

On May 1, Croft took over as chair-elect of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), a three-year board commitment that includes stepping up as chair next year, then as past chair. Croft sees the role as both an honor and a responsibility to give back to an organization that has lent her professional support from colleagues in similar collegiate administrative positions across the country.

Since running that first marathon in 2005, Croft has completed more than two dozen others, almost all of them with her super supportive husband, Dan, waiting for her at the finish line. The couple lives in Atlantic Beach and enjoys outdoor activities, dog sitting and cooking together.

Croft is still debating where to travel for her next marathon, but Africa – particularly, Madagascar – is definitely appealing. If so, Australia and Asia would be the only two continents left on the list.

To those who might ever doubt their own capabilities, Croft offers this advice: “Get out of your comfort zone. Don't let anyone, including yourself, tell you that you can't do something.”

Around Campus

Chemistry professor working toward cancer cure

Dr. Kenneth Laali discusses research In his lab at the University of North Florida, organic chemistry professor Dr. Kenneth Laali has created more than a dozen new compounds that are showing promise toward becoming future drugs. Nontoxic, with good absorption and improved metabolic stability, these synthesized substances tested highly effective in killing cancer cells. 


“The news is very encouraging,” Laali said. “This is a promising start. Nearly every one of the compounds we've sent off for testing against various cancers has been very potent in extremely small doses.”


Calling this preliminary results, Laali has completed the analysis of these new compounds and is preparing a manuscript for publication in a high impact peer-reviewed international journal. Though his focus is on using synthetic organic chemistry to make new compounds, which he has successfully done for many years, the bonus in this project is the prospect that one of these compounds could become a cancer fighting drug. 


“The most rewarding part of it was that the results showed how active these compounds are in killing cancer cells,” Laali said explaining the compounds tested positively against leukemia, prostate, breast and lung cancer cells.

Laali's new compounds are synthetic analogs of the natural product curcumin, long known for its health benefits. It's found in very small amounts in the spice turmeric. No drug has been developed because curcumin has a very low metabolic stability, which means it doesn't stay in the body long enough to be effective.

Dr. Kenneth Laalis student Ben Rathman“So the goal is to change the physical and chemical properties of curcumin,” Laali said. To do that, the chemist has been designing and preparing specific compounds, and establishing the molecular constitution and the purity of these compounds by using various analytical and spectroscopic instruments available in the Chemistry Department. For in-vitro cancer testing, the compounds were sent to the School of Pharmacy at the University of Florida, where Laali has established a collaborative arrangement.

“In every case they are much more reactive than curcumin itself,” Laali said. “They're more potent. So this is exactly what one would like to see in a preliminary phase one study, which is where we are now.”

In his synthetic effort, Laali has also introduced fluorine into the structure of curcumin, a process that ultimately means a lower dose will have a much more lasting effect.

“Fluorine has become very important in medicinal chemistry, but it's very challenging to be able to selectively introduce it into a specific location in a molecule,” Laali said. “There's a lot of research activity worldwide in this area. Many drugs used today have fluorine atoms in their structures.”

To move the research forward, Laali is seeking grant funding and will continue to invite UNF chemistry majors to join his research group. He will soon lose his most experienced student Benjamin Rathman, who has been working with him for the past three years.

Rathman, who has been working with Laali since his sophomore year, graduated last spring with a BS in chemistry, then worked full time in Laali's lab during summer 2015. He will enter the chemistry graduate program at the University of South Florida in the fall of 2016. 

“It has been a great experience,” Rathman said. “Dr. Laali often has postdoctoral researchers come from around the world to work in his lab, so I've really had a global experience.”

Laali came to UNF in 2009 as founding chair of the then new chemistry department and was selected as a recipient of the John A. Delaney Endowed Presidential Professorship.

He relocated to Jacksonville after 24 years at Kent State University.

Around Campus

UNF's first doctorate program hits silver anniversary

Educational Leadership doctoral graduate For Heather Monroe-Ossi, receiving the light blue doctoral hood at Commencement last week stirred a mix of emotions. As for most graduates at that level, the hood and the moment represent years of hard work, accomplishment and opportunity - usually accompanied by a few tears and a well-deserved sign of relief.  Monroe-Ossi, interim associate director for program development and administration at the Florida Institute of Education at UNF, was one of three graduates receiving a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at the spring ceremony. The educational leadership degree was the first doctoral program offered at UNF, and this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. 

Today, the program boasts a current enrollment of more than 100 students - including 25 UNF faculty and staff members. It consists of coursework in leadership, research methodologies, interdisciplinary foundations, as well as cognate courses in a student's particular area of interest. The dissertation is the capstone of the degree program, and typically is completed in four to six years. The program is geared for working professionals. Though students commit quite a bit of time before receiving their degree, most will tell you they are immersed in researching their topics of interest from the start and are provided lots of opportunities to put their knowledge to work.

Rick Parker is an adjunct professor at both UNF and Flagler College and a member of the latest educational leadership cohort. Parker, who served 26 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said that after just a couple semesters in the program, he is already using what he has learned. Parker retired as an assistant chief in JSO's Homeland Security division and now teaches terrorism, criminal investigations and other criminal justice courses. “I've already started tweaking my classroom management because of this program,” he said. With an undergraduate degree in education, a master's in criminology from the University of North Florida, and lots of leadership experience, Parker said the educational leadership doctorate just made sense as his next career step. "It was a logical fit, and doing the program at UNF was like coming home," he said.

According to Dr. Janice Seabrooks-Blackmore, associate professor and interim director of the program, the educational leadership doctorate has always been interdisciplinary in its coursework allowing students to further explore and research areas important to them. While students take certain cognate courses on their own, the program is structured as a cohort model meaning the new students begin the program together taking core classes and progress as a group. "They start together, and most finish together," Seabrooks-Blackmore said. "It's a family atmosphere. They build strong relationships that remain long after they graduate."

She said the program also has evolved over the years to attract students other than just those working in teaching jobs and in school administration. Today, in addition to those working in education, the program also draws students from the military, government and nonprofit sectors. "Leadership is critical in every field, but so is the education component," Seabrooks-Blackmore said. "Education is not just confined to a school system; there is an education component in all job settings and all walks of life."

Ali Badibanga, assistant director of prospect management and analytics at UNF, began the educational leadership doctorate program in the fall. Badibanga, who has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from UNF, sees the value of collaboration and collective leadership in the workplace. He is fascinated by the workplace psychology, and how educational leadership can impact millennials, particularly in a nonprofit setting.

"I feel like this program fits my interests perfectly," said Badibanga, who has already had an opportunity to present research findings with faculty at the Eastern Educational Research Association annual conference early this year. He was also selected by his peers to serve on the doctoral steering committee. "It's been great," Badibanga said. "I am empowered by having a seat at the table, and appreciate the opportunity to help shape the direction of the program."

Monroe-Ossi said she researched lots of programs, but was attracted to UNF's balanced approach of qualitative and quantitative research. As a program leader for FIE, she looks forward to utilizing her expanded research capabilities to pursue grant funding and continue to further the Institute's mission. "I appreciate the opportunities provided here [at UNF] that really enable you to reach your full potential," she said. "I gained so much from Dr. Sandra Gupton, who chaired my dissertation and Dr. Cheryl Fountain, who was particularly knowledgeable when it came to research design," Monroe-Ossi said. "The support I've received here, both as a student and a staff member, is truly amazing."

Graduates, current students, faculty and staff are invited to come together to reminisce and share photos at the educational leadership doctoral program's 25th anniversary celebration on Friday, June 3 in the College of Education and Human Services (Building 57, Petway Hall). The cost is $25. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to register online.

Around Campus

Dive Into Amer Kobaslija's Studio Paintings

Artist  Amer Kobaslija at MOCAAmer Kobaslija paints his surroundings. But those surroundings are constantly changing.

He divides his time between New York City, Jacksonville, Switzerland, and Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where he is a professor of painting. He has also spent time in Kesennuma, Japan, the country where his wife's family hails. His work includes messy artists' studio interiors, bedraggled washrooms, tsunami-ravaged Japan and imperiled natural landscapes in his adopted Florida.

The meticulous renderings of studios where he and other artists have worked are fascinating.

“A painting of the studio can be perceived as a metaphorical reflection of the inner world of the painter and the site of a place where people create their own worlds,” Kobaslija told Patterson Sims in a series of interviews for a Q&A in a monograph of the artist's work. “My series of paintings of my various studio spaces operates as a visual diary - a chronicle of my changing states of mind.”

During the installation of his exhibition “Amer Kobaslija: A Sense of Place" at MOCA Jacksonville, a cultural institute of UNF, he pointed to the large-scale oil on panels that welcomes visitors when they first enter the space. “Sputnik Sweetheart of New Orleans and the End of the World,” 2006, combines the titles of surrealist author Haruki Murakami's books “Sputnik Sweetheart” and “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.”

Like many of his works, the space is painted from a bird's eye view. Two ladders depicted at either corner hint at the perch the artist took to capture the chaotic room, which is bursting with details. Kobaslija said he is a swimmer. He gestured to the goggles that appear at the bottom of the painting and told me to imagine climbing to the top of one of the ladders and diving into the pool of luggage, tossed clothing, stacks of books, smeared oil paint palettes, fuzzy pink slippers, mugs of cold coffee, partially opened boxes, paintings in progress, and other random items.
Surreal, indeed.

“It could be said that a studio is a painter's shrine, a place where one goes to practice their religion or their arts.” Kobaslija told Sims. “There is a certain routine to the process: one goes in and performs the ritual, which consists of the act of painting as well as the thought process that goes with it, the meditative aspect of the work. The studio as a subject matter gives the painter myriad possibilities in how to approach it, how to perceive and deal with it.”

Kobaslija's parents smuggled him and his sister out of Bosnia and into Croatia in 1993. They made their way to Germany, where they lived for four years watching the news of the atrocities in their homeland until their parents could join them. The family moved to the U.S. through a special immigration program for Bosnian refugees and chose Florida where they had some relatives.

“A friend told me that immigration is like a silent trial that never ends, and one is never completely at home either here or there. I am grateful to America and see it as a home, but I also know that there is a void somewhere inside that may never be filled.”

Get to Know

Jennifer Neidhardt

 Jennifer Neidhardt headshotDepartment: Human Resources   


Job title: Director, Benefits and Retirement


What do you do? I'm responsible for administering UNF's benefits and retirement functions. I work closely with state agencies in Tallahassee to ensure plans are administered correctly and efficiently. I also help employees who need to take leave, whether FMLA, workers' comp or disability.


Years at UNF: Almost 10 years.


Tell us about your family: I've been married to Chris for 16 years. We have two kids: Christopher, 10 and Brooke, 8. Also, my parents, sister, nieces, nephews and a big German-Italian family of in-laws. A very interesting mix.


If you could choose any other career, what would it be and why? Anything that would allow me to help people. Helping someone navigate through a difficult time in their life or doing something that positively impacts them in some way is incredibly rewarding.


What would you like to do when you retire: Move to a farm and breed golden retrievers.


What is your favorite thing about working at UNF? I truly appreciate the diversity of the employees with whom I work. I come across such different personalities and backgrounds and try to learn something from each of them.


What is the best thing you ever won? My girlfriends and I play trivia, and we usually win first or second place, which means a gift card of some sort. It's amazing how accomplished we feel when our collective useless knowledge comes in handy.


Who is your favorite fictional character, and why? SpongeBob. He is so sweet-natured and has a very strong work ethic.


If you won the lottery, what would do with the money? Give a chunk to St. Jude's, set up trusts for the kids in the family, buy a summer house in New England and visit my family whenever I wanted.


If you were not working at UNF, what would you be doing? I would still work in HR - maybe for a children's hospital or another service-oriented organization.


Describe your favorite UNF-related memory? My last class at UNF before I graduated - Mark Ari's fiction writing workshop. The class was one of my favorites, and to finish my career as a college student with that class was perfect.


What is your favorite way to blow an hour? Doing "nothing" with my kids. We are normally very busy, so those rare moments when our to-do list is complete are wonderful.


If you were asked to paint a picture about anything you wanted, what would you paint? My kids hugging each other, although with my painting skills it may look like they are strangling each other.


What was the best money you ever spent? Vacations. Whether it's with my family or with my girlfriends, I return recharged and better able to tackle daily life!


Is there a piece of technology that you just couldn't live without? Like most people, my phone. I try very, very hard to detach from it when I'm home, but I struggle.


What is the proudest/happiest moment of your life? The proudest is when I graduated from UNF! The happiest is definitely the birth of each of my kids.


Tell us something that would surprise people to know about you: I have a ridiculous memory for songs. I can usually name the song, artist and year it was made hearing just a few notes. Comes in handy playing trivia!


What was the first concert you ever attended, and what was the most recent concert you attended: Embarrassingly, New Kids on the Block in the early 90s. The most recent was a Night of the Arts performance at my kids' school. The latter was much more impressive.


What person had the greatest impact on your life? I can't name only one person! My parents, of course. Also, my husband. We met when we were young, and he has always had a very strong sense of what he wants from life. A little later in life - Rachelle Gottlieb. She has been my boss and mentor for nearly 17 years. The guidance she has shared through the years is immeasurable.


What are you most passionate about? Teaching my kids kindness and being a good role model for them. They don't miss A THING.


Who is the most famous person you ever met? Bret Michaels. We were on a flight together. The girl next to me kept arguing that he was David Lee Roth, but it was definitely Bret Michaels. And he was wearing the bandana.


Tell us something about you that even your friends don't know: I met an old soothsayer in Thailand during college. He told me to stay away from boys (my dad likely paid him to tell me that) but also told me I had bad feet. I'm normally very skeptical of those things, but 20 years and three foot surgeries later, he was right!


What do you hope to accomplish that you have not done yet? My sister is a pilot, and I would love to be a passenger on one of her flights. She took me up when she first got her pilot's license, but my eyes were shut. I missed the entire thing.


Last book read: City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. My son is reading it for school, and I like to ask him questions that he isn't expecting. Keeps him on his toes!


Faculty award winners named

Congratulations to the 2015-16 University of North Florida Faculty Award winners. All recipients receive a cash award and commemorative plaque at the 2016 fall convocation. Nominations come from students, faculty, colleagues, staff, administrators and alumni. The awards are funded through unrestricted gifts from the UNF Foundation Inc. and Academic Affairs. Osprey fountain

Distinguished Professor Awards
Winner:  C. Dominik Güss  (College of Arts and Sciences, Psychology)
Runner-Up:  Adel K. El Safty  (College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, School of Engineering/Civil Engineering)

Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Awards
Doria F. Bowers  (College of Arts and Sciences, Biology)
Reham A. Eltantawy  (Coggin College of Business, Marketing and Logistics)
James J. Gelsleichter  (College of Arts and Sciences, Biology)

Outstanding Faculty Service Awards
Mark Ari  (College of Arts and Sciences, English) 
John W. White  (College of Education and Human Services, Foundations and Secondary Education)

Outstanding Faculty Community Engaged Scholarship Award
Christopher A. Janson  (College of Education and Human Services, Leadership, School Counseling and Sports Management)

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Awards
Caroline A. Guardino  (College of Education and Human Services, Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreter Education) 
O. Patrick Kreidl  (College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, School of Engineering/Electrical Engineering)

Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Awards
Juan Aceros  (College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, School of Engineering/Electrical Engineering)
Emma J. I. Apatu  (Brooks College of Health, Public Health)
Daniel L. Dinsmore  (College of Education and Human Services, Foundations and Secondary Education)
Trevor T. Dunn  (College of Arts and Sciences, Art and Design)
Bryan A. Knuckley  (College of Arts and Sciences, Chemistry)
Erin Largo-Wright  (Brooks College of Health, Public Health)
Jonathan D. Matheson  (College of Arts and Sciences, Philosophy and Religious Studies)
Thomas J. Mullen  (College of Arts and Sciences, Chemistry)
Jody S. Nicholson  (College of Arts and Sciences, Psychology)
David L. Sheffler  (College of Arts and Sciences, History)


Osprey Profile: Jessica Deggans

Where are you from? St. Petersburg, Florida Jessica Deggans headshot


What is your major? Marketing


When will you graduate? Spring 2018


What attracted you to UNF? I was attracted to the natural beauty of UNF, as well as its location. I wanted to stay in state, but I didn't want to be too close to home.


Why did you decide to attend the University? A friend of my mom talked to her about UNF and how much her child enjoyed it here. I was a senior and didn't know where I wanted to go for college, so I looked into UNF and instantly knew it was the right school for me.


Why did you pick UNF over other schools? I realized that the larger schools that I was accepted to just weren't for me. I wanted to be at a smaller university, while still in a state school, and UNF was a good fit.


What do you do for fun on campus? Athletics, clubs, activities, etc.? I like to go to the gym and paddleboard at Eco Adventure, which I recently realized I really enjoy. I also like to go to athletics events with my friends, especially basketball and volleyball.


What's your favorite UNF tradition? My favorite tradition is the River City Rumble. It's always fun to see the campus come together in supporting UNF against Jacksonville University.


What is the best thing about UNF's faculty and staff? I think the best thing about the faculty and staff is how much they care. I feel like I am given all the possible tools I could need to succeed.


Do you have a favorite professor(s)? What makes them so great? My favorite professor was Professor Perkins who taught my Introduction to Fiction class. She was willing to work with the class in regards to what we had to get done, and she wanted everyone to succeed with whatever they wanted to do in the future.


What has been your favorite class? Why do you like it so much? My favorite class has been Introduction to Fiction. It was a class not relating to my major, and it was just plain fun. I got to write stories and get feedback from my peers. I feel that my professor genuinely wanted all of us to write and succeed.


When you're looking to de-stress and relax a bit, where do you go on campus? Why do you like that spot? I go to my room, honestly. It's the only place where I can be completely alone and have quiet.


What makes UNF unique? I think what makes UNF unique is the location of the campus. There is so much natural beauty around despite being located in a city as large as Jacksonville.


Is there anything you've learned about UNF during your time on campus that you think incoming freshmen should know? I think that one thing that I learned my first year was to open myself up to new people and ideas. This is the time to come out of your shell and try things that might seem out of character. You may surprise yourself.


What do you think of the campus' natural environment? I love the natural environment of campus. I love looking out from my building and seeing trees blowing in the wind and being able to go onto the nature trails and just enjoying nature.


When you look back at your UNF experience years down the road, what do you think you'll most remember? I think I'll remember all the great people that I've met here and the memories that I share with them.


What do you like most about Jacksonville? Any favorite places around town? What I like about Jacksonville is that since it is a large city, I don't feel like I'm too far from anything that I might want to do. I know people who go to school in smaller towns that have fewer options in what they can do outside of their school.


What are your plans for the future? Ha! I have absolutely no idea.


What does being an Osprey mean to you? To me, being an Osprey means being my best self and swooping up (pun intended) any opportunities that come my way.



What is your favorite thing to do on the Green? I like to sit there with friends and just enjoy the nice weather.


All your studying is done. Your homework assignments are turned in and you have an hour free. What do you do? I love to eat and sleep, in that order.


What are your tips for finding time to study? I'd say, as soon as I make it a priority, there is suddenly time in the day. I just have to jump in.



Do you have any tips you want to share for getting good grades? Don't be afraid to ask questions. No one wants to feel dumb, but if you don't understand, it's better to know and get a better grade in the long run.


Swoop Summary

Welcome to the Swoop Summary. Every issue of Inside, we'll be bringing you a recap of all the UNF Athletics accomplishments you need to know from the past month. These are just a few highlights. For a full breakdown, head to UNF Athletics for all the latest Osprey news, stats and info.

UNF womens golf champsUNF Women's Golf Heading to its First NCAA Regional
The Atlantic Sun Champion North Florida women's golf team is making the program's first NCAA Regional appearance in just its fourth season of existence. Tabbed the No. 16-seed in the upcoming Regional in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Osprey's will play at LSU's University Club on May 5 – 7. Learn more about women's golf.  

UNF Women's Golf Places Record Three Athletes on A-Sun All-American Team
The North Florida women's golf team made more history last month as three student-athletes were named to the Atlantic Sun Academic All-Conference team, marking the most from a single program in the award's five-year history. The trio of Osprey honorees included Mary Dawson, making her second appearance on the list after earning the distinction last year, and Emelie Alpe and Megan Wilshire, earning their first selections. Learn more about the All-American Team.

UNF beach volleyball champsUNF Volleyball Upsets Stetson to Win A-Sun Championship
The North Florida beach volleyball upset top-seeded Stetson, 3-2, to win the 2016 Atlantic Sun Championship, their third conference championship match win in the last five years. Senior Ambre Desaulnay and freshman Chaney Howard were named the Pair of the Tournament and selected to the All-Tournament team along with Katarina Raicevic and Courtney Miller. Beach volleyball is the NCAA's newest colliagiate championship and will consist of eight teams making the bracket. Learn more about UNF beach volleyball.

Osprey Women's Tennis Downs FGSU to Win Second Straight A-Sun
North Florida women's tennis won 4-2 against Florida Golf Coast University to claim its second straight Atlantic Sun Championship. Sophomore Luise Intert, who clinched the victory, also clinched a 4-3 match against the Eagles during the regular season that eventually helped UNF win the regular season title. Along with Intert, freshman Rafaela Gomez and junior Michelle Valdez also grabbed All-Tournament Team honors. With the victory, North Florida earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship and learns its opponent on Tuesday, May 3 on Learn more about women's tennis.

North Florida Men's Tennis Wins First-Ever A-Sun Championship
Freshman Sahil Deshmukh clinched the 4-2 victory against USC Upstate as the North Florida men's tennis team won its first-ever Atlantic Sun Championship. Deshmukh earned All-Tournament team honors, while sophomore Lasse Muscheites joined him and earned Most Valuable Player of the Tournament. The championship is the first for UNF during the Division 1 era. UNF now earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. The Ospreys will learn their opponent on Tuesday, May 3. Learn more about men's tennis.

UNF Osprey's Athletics Wraps Up 2015-16 Season with Student-Athlete Awards Banquet
The University of North Florida Department of Athletics held its annual Student-Athlete Awards Banquet April 20 at UNF's Adam W. Herbert University Center celebrating and honoring the athletic accomplishments for the 2015-16 season. Learn more about the awards banquet.

Faculty and Staff

 Regalia Brooks College of Health


School of Nursing:

Drs. Linda Connelly and Cindy Cummings attended the Sigma Theta Tau/National League of Nursing 2016 Nursing Education Research Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, and presented on Graduate Nurses Perceptions of Workplace Readiness.


College of Arts and Sciences


Art and Design
Vanessa Cruz won the 70th-year Fulbright logo contest. Her logo will be used throughout the anniversary year.

Alex Diaz is exhibiting at “Texas National 2016” at the Stephen F. Austin Art Gallery in Nacogdoches, Texas. He has another exhibition at “Art Now: Photography 2016” at Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Nofa Dixon juried at the Mandarin Art Show in Jacksonville, Florida.

Sheila Goloborotko and Vanessa Cruz's animated film, “Call + Response,” was selected by Portland animators and printmakers to be screened at the Southern Graphics Council (SGS) Conference in Portland, Oregon. Goloborotko also has an exhibition, “Flux,” in the collection of SGC International Archives, Portland State University and Pacific Northwest College of Art; and at a MOCA exhibition showcasing the work of 23 women printmakers, she presented “The Other,” which was the focus of a KBOO radio program, “Transpose.”


Jenny Hager has an outdoor sculpture exhibition at Yokna Sculpture Trails. 

Stephen Heywood is exhibiting in “Role Models” at the Belger Art Center, Kansas City, Kansas, during the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference.

Jason John is exhibiting his work at “Painting and Seeing” at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina. He also published work in International Painting Annual, Manifest Creative Research Journal and Creative Quarterly Magazine.

Kally Malcom has an image published in the photography and printmaking magazine The Hand Magazine.

Dr. Murphy presented “The Portrait of II Gran Cardinale Alessandro Farnese in the Palazzo dei Conservatori Scipio Frieze” at the annual meetings of the Renaissance Society of America in Boston, Massachusetts. Murphy was also designated one of 40 “Cultural Icons” by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the annual Arts Awards.

Dr. Dale Casamatta, P. Dvorak, E. Jahodářová, E. and P. Hasler published “Difference without distinction? Explaining gaps in cyanobacterial systematics” in Journal of Phycology.

Dr. Nicole Dix, with S. Badylak, E.J. Phlips, J. Hart, A. Srifa, D. Haunert, Z. He, J. Lockwood, P. Stofella, D. Sun, and Y. Yang published “Phytoplankton dynamics in a subtropical tidal creek: influences of rainfall and water residence time on composition and biomass” in Marine and Freshwater Research. With K. Dietz, S. Dunnigan, M. Monroe, and A. Noel, she presented “Northeast Florida Oyster Condition Assessment” in March at the Southeastern Estuarine Research Society (SEERS) Meeting, Bluffton, South Carolina.

Dr. Quincy Gibson gave three presentations at the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium in Savannah, Georgia: (i) with Carissa King, “Identification of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) critical habitat areas in the St. Johns River, Florida”; (ii) with Kristy Karle, Kristy, “The function of second-order male alliances in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the St. Johns River, Florida”; and (iii) with Cameron Keys, “Spatial patterns of second-order alliances among male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the St. Johns River, Florida.”

Dr. Chris Gabbard published a book review “Rachel Adams's Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability and Discovery” in the January – March issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies.

Dr. Clark Lunberry presented “Writing on Basho's Pond” at the American Comparative Literature Association Conference at Harvard University in March.

In March, Mr. Marcus Pactor published “A Giving Toilet” in Yalobusha Review and “Good Sense” in Fiction Fix.

Dr. Alison Bruey and her co-authors had their book, Tortura en poblaciones del Gran Santiago republished digitally by the Biblioteca Nacional de Chile's Memoria Chilena program.

Dr. Shannon C. Eaves presented “‘The Men Had No Comfort With Their Wives': Enslaved Men and Masculinity in the Midst of Sexual Exploitation” at the Southern Historical Association Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dr. Barry Albright and Dr. Alan Titus (i) published “Magnetostratigraphy of Upper Cretaceous Strata in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Southern Utah: The Santonian-Campanian Stage Boundary, Reassessment of the C33n/C33r Magnetochron Boundary, and Implications for Regional Sedimentation Patterns Within the Sevier Foreland Basin” in Cretaceous Research. (ii) He also gave the invited talk, “The Jones Branch Local Fauna: an Early Arikareean Mammalian Assemblage from the Upper Oligocene Catahoula Clay, Wayne County, Mississippi” at a symposium on “Fossil Vertebrates of the Gulf Coastal Plain” as part of the 50th Annual Meeting of the South-Central Section of the Geological Society of America, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Dr. Jason Haraldsen received a grant from the Institute for Materials Science at Los Alamos National Laboratory for student research on Magnetic Dirac Materials. He also published “H1R Antagonists for brain inflammation and anxiety: Targeted treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders” in Journal of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery Research. And he received a UNF technology grant to help purchase molecular dynamics software for undergraduate research opportunities.

Political Science and Public Administration
Dr. Josh Gellers and Dr. Christopher Jeffords (i) presented “Procedural Environmental Rights and Environmental Justice: Assessing the Impact of Global Environmental Constitutionalism” at the International Studies Association Annual Convention in Atlanta (March). (ii) He also served in March as an invited participant in the Winter Workshop on Conservation and Equity at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California.

Dr. Pamela A. Zeiser presented (i) “I want to make $80k When I Graduate: Career Preparation in the Classroom” and (ii) “The Ignored (Inter)Discipline: Emphasizing the ‘Interdisciplinary' in International Studies” at the 57th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association in March.

Dr. T. P. Alloway and Dr. M. Toglia, with their colleagues B. Wallace and K. Patterson, presented “The Gist of it: Sentence Recall in Children with ASD” at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, New Orleans, Louisiana in March.

Also in March, Dr. C. Leone, with his colleagues L. Gainey and R. Moulder, published “Angel or Demon? Self-monitoring differences in the mental representations of current versus former romantic partners” in Self and Identity.

Dr. J. Nicholson, with P. Deboeck and W. Howard, published “Attrition in developmental psychology: A review of modern missing data reporting and practices” in the International Journal of Behavioral Development.

Dr. J. Wolff, with her colleagues K. Rospenda and A. Colaneri, published “Sexual Harassment, Psychological Distress, and Problematic Drinking Behavior among College Students: An Examination of Reciprocal Causal Relations” in the online Journal of Sex Research in March.

Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work
Dr. David Jaffee and Dr. David Bensman published “Draying and Picking: Precarious Work and Labor Action in the Logistics Sector” in WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society.

Dr. Ron Lukens-Bull presented “When Pluralism Became a Value for a Muslim Militia: The Case of Banser (Barisan Ansor Serba Guna)” in March on the panel “Islamic Authenticity and Uncivil Society in Indonesia” (sponsored by the Indonesia Timore Leste Studies Committee) at the Association of Asian Studies meetings, Seattle, Washington.

Ross McDonough presented “Making a Difference to a Child in a Time/Resource-Limited Environment” to the Duval County Public Schools Association of School Psychologists and Social Workers in March.

Also in March, Dr. Jenny Stuber presented her research, “Inside the College Gates: Education as a Social and Cultural Process,” at the Aarhus University Danish School of Education.



College of Computing, Engineering and Construction

School of Engineering:
Dr. Brian Kopp received a $179,998 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, March 15, "Long Distance Wireless Radio Link for the FDOT Intelligent Transportation System Statewide Network."

Dr. Brian Kopp, Dr. Juan Aceros and Dr. Adel El Safty received a $107,113 grant March 30 from the Florida Department of Transportation, "Reinforced Concrete Foundation Remote Monitoring.”

Dr. Patrick Kreidl, in collaboration with Dr. Shigang Chen at the University of Florida, received funding in the amount of $50,000 for a one-year seedling project titled “New Technologies in Defense Maneuver against Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks” from the Florida Center for Cybersecurity.

Dr. Patrick Kreidl co-authored, with former students Jason Gutel and Mason McGough as well as Dr. Alan Harris and Dr. Nick Hudyma, a paper titled “Simulated rock profiles for surface weathering estimation,” presented at IEEE SoutheastCon, April, Norfolk, Virginia.

Dr. Patrick Kreidl is a recipient of UNF's 2015 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, recognizing excellence in the teaching and training of graduate students at UNF.

School of Computing:
The School of Computing held a “Hack-a-thon” on April 1. Thirty students on 10 teams competed for a $1,000 scholarship. Judges included Michael Potts, CEO of Feature[23]; Melissa Hong, CEO of VisualSolutions and CAB member; Micah Cooper of Hashrocket; and Jarred Wheeler of Beeline.

Dishi Shrivastava, Karthikeyan Umapathy, Haiyan Huang, Ching-Hua Chuan, Lakshmi Goel. A Study on Influence of Gender Differences on Social Presence Features. In Proceedings of the Southern Association for Information Systems (SAIS), St. Augustine, Florida, USA, 2016. Conference Best Paper – Finalist.

Albert D. Ritzhaupt and Karthikeyan Umapathy. A meta-analysis of pair-programming in computer programming courses: Implications for educational practice. Presented at the 2016 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, April 8 - 12, Washington, DC.

College of Education and Human Services

Department of Foundations and Secondary Education:
Dr. John White and Mark Ari, English Department, were invited/funded speakers at the National Education Association Conference in San Diego, California, April 1-3. Their presentation - "Seeking Equity for Invisible (non-tenure-track) Faculty: Negotiating and Selling the Idea of Promotable Ranks and Associated Merit Pay for Instructors and Lecturers” - was based upon the union's successful efforts to create the first-ever promotion system for UNF instructors and lecturers. In addition, Dr. White was selected as one of two recipients of this year's Outstanding Service Award. His union colleague, Mark Ari, is the other recipient.

Three faculty members from the Foundations and Secondary Education department attended the 2016 American Educational Research Association Conference held in Washington, DC, this April. Hope E. (Bess) Wilson presented her research on “Domain-Specific and Perspective-Specific Academic Self-Concept” at the conference. She also served as the Program Chair for the Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Special Interest Group. She was also elected Secretary of the SIG, and began her term at the end of the conference. Raine Osborne and Dan Dinsmore presented “Outcomes assessment methods for interprofessional education involving medical and physical therapy participants: A systematic review.” Additionally, Dan served as section chair for Division C, Section 3a this year. Dilek Kayaalp presented her paper "Hybrid and supra-hybrid: Complex and conflicting identities of immigrant youth in the Canadian nation-state" at the conference.

Department of Childhood Education, Literacy and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL):
Dr. Stacy Boote recently published an article, “Choosing the Right Tool” in NCTM's Teaching Children Mathematics. In this piece, Dr. Boote argues that grouped craft sticks, a groupable Base-Ten manipulative, are superior to pre-grouped manipulatives like Base-Ten blocks. Craft sticks grouped in singles (1's), bundles (10's), baggies (100's), and boxes (1,000's) provide a physical place value model to teach the long division algorithm, connecting procedural accuracy with conceptual understanding.

Department of Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreter Education:
Due to their interest in and commitment to our International Professional Development School partnership, the Belize Ministry of Education sponsored five educators to spend the first week in April in Jacksonville to learn about our Urban Professional Development School partnership with Duval County Public Schools. The Belize delegation included Kuxlin Ha Government Primary School Principal Shirline Wiltshire, Ministry of Education Coordinator of Teacher Education and Development Services Yvonne Howell, University of Belize faculty Dr. June Young, Dr. Maxine McKay and Ms. Catherine Wade. Drs. John Kemppainen, Susan Syverud, Debbie Reed and Cathy O'Farrell along with Resident Clinical Faculty Christie Stevenson, Darcey Gray and Dwayne Kohn showcased our partnership at Woodland Acres Elementary, Lake Shore Middle International Baccalaureate World School, and Kings Trail Elementary, presented a workshop titled Professional Development Schools: The UNF Model, and then discussed the continued development of our International Professional Development School partnership in Belize.

UNF was well represented at the 2016 National Association of Professional Development Schools Conference in Washington, DC. We had a total of 11 presenters: university faculty members included Drs. Susan Syverud, Debbie Reed, John Kemppainen, and Marnie Jones; school partners included Resident Clinical Faculty Christie Stevenson, Dr. Darcey Gray and Dwayne Kohn; Main Street America corporate representative Mark Friedlander, and Exceptional Education majors Julianna Santucci, Jenelle Vinachi and Brady Lipps. The following eight presentations showcased the depth and breadth of our Urban Professional Development School partnership with Duval County Public Schools: Service Learning in an Urban Professional Development School: A Qualitative Study; How Does Your Garden Grow?: Cultivating Minds and Plants in a PDS; Using Peer Supports in a PDS Context: Working Toward Inclusion of Students with Disabilities; Reading Matters: A University-School Collaboration that Evolved to Prevent Reading Failures; Expanding the Depth and Breadth of a University-School Partnership by Engaging Your Local Business Community: Our Success Story Can Be Yours; Preservice Teacher Candidates Impacting Literacy Skills of Struggling First Grade Readers, including English Language Learners and Children with Disabilities; Creating a Community of Learners: Resident Clinical Faculty, Directing Teachers, and Preservice Teachers; and An International Professional Development School Partnership between the University of North Florida and the University of Belize and Kuxlin Ha Government Primary School.

While visiting Florida to attend the Professional Development School National Conference in Orlando, a 23-person delegation from the Netherlands decided to spend a day in Jacksonville to visit and learn about the UNF Urban Professional Development School partnership at Woodland Acres Elementary. The Dutch delegation was led by Principal Marco Schaap from Julianaschool Rijssen and included faculty from Hogeschool Viaa (University) Zwolle and various faculty and administrations from the following schools: PCPO Rijssen, Willem Alexanderschool Rijssen, Elimschool Rijssen, Constantijnschool Rijssen, de Sprankel Zwolle, de ARS Hardenberg, Rehoboth Urk, de Schutsluis, and VGPO de Zevenster. After observing various aspects of partnership at UPDS Woodland Acres Elementary, our guests from the Netherlands and Belize enjoyed lunch with UNF administration, and then a workshop titled Professional Development Schools: The UNF Model presented by Drs. Susan Syverud, Debbie Reed, John Kemppainen and Cathy O'Farrell along with Resident Clinical Faculty Christie Stevenson, Darcey Gray and Dwayne Kohn.

Department of Leadership, School Counseling and Sport Management:

Dr. E. Newton Jackson Jr.'s conference paper won Best Paper at the 52nd Annual MBAA International Conference, Best Paper Award for: Sports, Events & Recreation Marketing Track on April 13-15 at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Illinois.

Office of Academic Advising:
The College of Education and Human Services was recognized at St. John's County 10th Anniversary of Career Academies on Thursday, April 14. Dr. John Kemppainen received an appreciation award from Superintendent Joseph Joyner for being a charter advisory board member of the Teacher's Academy at St. Augustine High School for his continued ongoing support of the academy. During the awards ceremony, Ms. Jasmine Douglas, a student at St. Augustine High School and a member of the Teacher's Academy, as well as a dual enrolled UNF student, received a scholarship from one of St. John's County sponsors and plans to attend UNF next fall as an education major.

Office of the Dean:
Dr. Marsha Lupi, Interim Dean; Amanda Laukitis, Assessment Assistant/Special Projects Coordinator; Jade Yuen, Graduate Research Assistant; and Christian Ramos, undergraduate student, participated in the 3rd Annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Symposium TLO Poster Showcase on April 11. Staff and students presented on short-term study abroad internships in teacher education and sport management. They shared personal and professional growth as a result of their study abroad placements in schools or sport agencies in Plymouth, England. Christian Ramos shared, “Working with the Plymouth Argyle Football Club strengthened my love for sports and gave me a fresh perspective of the work that goes into the industry. I am reassured that Sport Management is the right program for me.”


Milestone anniversaries Balloons Congratulations to the following employees who will celebrate a milestone anniversary at UNF in May:


25 years
William Taylor, Quality Control Inspector, Physical Facilities
Kellie Woodle, Director, Academic Center for Excellence


20 years
Melissa Bush, Senior Lecturer, Chemistry


15 years
Margaret Terrell, Library Services Specialist


10 years
Michael Chung, Assistant Director Education Training Programs, Small Business Development Center
Matthew Holcombe, Data Processing Associate, Registrar's Office
William Eckert, Coordinator Library Services, Library

Rachelle Gottlieb, Vice President, Human Resources
Jean Wondell, Director, Academic Advising Services, College of Arts and Sciences


5 years
Maria Cartolano, Executive Secretary, Administration and Finance
Colleen Sharp, Assistant Director, Fine Arts Center
Jarrett Zongker, Applications Programmer, Enterprise Systems
Casey Knowles, Senior Accounts Payable Receivables Representative, Continuing Education 
Cathy Harris, Custodial Supervisor, Physical Facilities
Virginia Smith, Custodial Worker, Physical Facilities
April Flores, Office Manager, Construction Management
James Mauch, Maintenance Superintendent, Physical Facilities
Douglas Leas, Assistant Professor, School of Computing


The following employees were either hired by UNF or were promoted from OPS positions recently:
Meghan Alexander, IT Support Techician, User Services
Samuel Bell, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance and Energy Management
Mary Bernardi, Administrative Secretary, School of Computing
Marsha Blasco, Assistant Director Marketing and Publications, Public Relations
Ryan Breaux, Senior Library Services Associate, Library
Jon Farrell, Groundskeeper, Grounds
Meredith Hixson, Accountant, Controller
Colin McKinney, Assistant Recycle Refuse Superintendent, Recycle
Whitney Meyer, Assistant Director Special Events, Public Relations
Johnathan Miller, Groundskeeper, Grounds
Lauryn Stark, Coordinator Events Planning, Taylor Leadership Institute
Frank Tappin, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance and Energy Management


Great Job
The following employees were promoted recently:
Ali Badibanga, Assistant Director, Prospect Management, University Development and Alumni Engagement
Katelyn Chapman, Assistant Director Academic Support Services, Admissions
Wanda Cockfield, Senior Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Yentl Dunbar, Office Manager, Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work
John Frank, Assistant Director, Taylor Leadership Institute
Artis Hartley, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance and Energy Management
Jeannine Prew, Business Services Financial Specialist, Business Services Administrative
Erica Rahman, Accounting Associate, Student Government Business and Accounting Office
Patricia Robbins, Executive Secretary, Education and Human Services
Jarrett Zongker, Applications Programmer, Enterprise Systems


Heartfelt well wishes in their new endeavors for the following employees, who left UNF recently:
Mary Allen, Custodial Worker, Physical Facilities
Tiffany Balat-Bueno, Coordinator, Student Financial, Controller
Richard Buck, Senior Associate General Counsel
Carol Juro, Coordinator Budgets, Florida Institute of Education
Teresa Kutylo, Custodial Worker, University Housing
Chere' Morella, Coordinator Recreation Operations, Teaching Gymnasium
Julianne Neumann, Financial Aid Specialist, Financial Aid Office
Gregory Petties, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Ashley Sedghi-Khoi, Office Manager, MOCA Jacksonville
James Wright, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services

The Goods


Cucumber closeupThe cucumber is a versatile food that adds texture and flavor to the diet. Cucumbers are easily grown in Florida gardens and readily available in grocery stores, farmers' markets and roadside stands. Dr. Judy Perkin, professor in the Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program, discusses myths and facts about cucumbers and provides tips for including them in a healthy diet.

Myth: The cucumber plant originated in Africa.

Fact: Food historians tell us that the cucumber had its origins in the south of Asia and then spread to other areas of the world. Cucumbers were popular in the ancient world as a food and a beauty agent for the skin.

Myth: Cucumbers taste good but don't have many nutrients.

Fact: Cucumbers are nutritious and contribute to the daily needs for a number of nutrients, such as fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C. Cucumbers are also low in calories, fat and sodium. Remember that if you eat cucumber in the form of a pickle, then the sodium content is greatly increased. If you love pickles but not the extra sodium, look for low-sodium pickle recipes. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Choose My website, a cup of raw cucumbers has 2 milligrams of sodium versus a spear of a dill pickle, which has 306 milligrams of sodium.

Myth: The United States is the major producer of cucumbers in the world.

Fact: Sources say that the largest producer of cucumbers internationally is China, where residents eat fried cucumbers. Botanists classify cucumbers as a fruit, although we typically think of them as vegetables. Cucumbers are divided into three main categories: field grown, green house and ones for pickling.

Myth: Cucumbers can't be frozen.

Fact: According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, cucumbers can be frozen, but only if they're marinated.

Myth: Cucumbers are not used to prepare desserts.

Fact: We're all probably more familiar with cucumbers used in salads and appetizers, but cucumbers can be an important ingredient in dessert recipes, such as cucumber cakes and cupcakes, cucumber popsicles, ice cream and sorbets.

“The Goods” is a monthly column about food myths and facts by faculty members in the Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program that runs in The Florida Times-Union's “Taste” section. Have a question about cucumbers? Contact Judy Perkin at

West Coast Pita Treat

4 whole wheat pitas, 6 1/2 inches in diameter
2 cups cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 cups fresh tomato, thinly sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 cup fat-free ranch salad dressing
2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped


Cut pitas in half. Open pita halves slightly and cut completely along edge to create 16 semi-circles. Portion out equal amounts of sliced cucumber, tomato and avocado on top of eight of the pita semi-circles. Mix dressing with onion powder and chili powder, then drizzle equally on top of the vegetables. Top with chopped lettuce and remaining pita semi-circles. Cut each pita sandwich in half. Serves 8.
Nutritional information per serving:
Calories: 165
Total Fat: 4.8g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Dietary Fiber: 6g
Sodium: 348 mg
Protein: 4g

Recipe and nutritional analysis used with permission of the Produce for A Better Health Foundation from the Fruit and Veggies More Matters ® website.

Bright Birds Know

UNF beach team takes conferenceBeach volleyball is one of 19 Division 1 sports at UNF. The team first began kicking up sand in the spring of 2012 and - in the short time since - has won three conference titles.

UNF is one of only seven Florida schools to have Division 1 beach volleyball, and one of only 52 nationwide.

In 2009, when the sport was placed on the list of emerging sports for women, it was called sand volleyball. In 2015, the NCAA changed the name to beach volleyball. It has now become the NCAA's newest collegiate championship, with the inaugural contest set for May 6-8 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Ospreys are awaiting the selection decision.

Here is the complete list of UNF Division 1 sports:
11 NCAA Division I Women's teams: Basketball, Softball, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer, Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Cross Country, Golf, Tennis, Swimming

8 NCAA Division I Men's Teams: Basketball, Baseball, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer, Cross Country, Golf, Tennis