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InsideMay 2017

Around Campus

UNF literacy professor enters the world of Garfield

When Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield - the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world - invites you to Muncie, Indiana, to meet with him, who says no? Dr. Katie Monnin posed the question and then answered it: "I didn't say no; I went straight up there!"
Drawn image of Dr. Katie Monnin
An associate professor of literacy at the University of North Florida, Monnin shares a professional interest with Davis - using comic books and graphic novels to teach language arts in the classroom. In fact, Monnin has written eight books on the subject. Davis, a supporter of literacy efforts internationally, sought Monnin's educational expertise on using Garfield - still beloved and read by 200 million people each day - as an innovative way to enhance classroom learning.

The meeting led to Monnin's latest project, a book for educators titled "Teaching Garfield in 21st Century Language Arts." The humorous orange cat who likes coffee, lasagna and his remote control will be portrayed throughout the book with images provided by Davis. Monnin expects the book to be published in 2018 or early 2019.

Though Monnin is writing the book, Davis - whom she describes as "the most humble, approachable, kind and sincere man on the planet" - has oversight on the work, but is mainly interested in keeping the project moving along, she said. Monnin plans to ask him to write the forward for the book.

Her previous books span early childhood to high school with a main focus on graphic novels as well as new literacies with comics and animation film, theories backed by research that support reaching out to children through a variety of mediums.

"Graphic novels are somewhat different than comic books in that they embrace all the key elements of stories that we teach in language arts - plot, setting, imagery, tone and more - so bringing them into the classroom aligns with all the modern standards," Monnin said. "With so many being created now, they can be used to teach in diverse disciplines, across content areas: science, math and social studies."

Without a doubt, the Garfield project ranks as a top career highlight, yet Monnin has another event this summer that may compete as a close runner-up: She has been invited to the San Diego Comic-Con to judge the 43rd Masquerade Ball, in which people from around the globe compete to win best-made costume. It will be her third invite to judge at the San Diego Comic-Con. "It's an amazing behind-the-scenes look at what happens and also provides VIP access to everything," Monnin said.

Who says no to that?

Around Campus

Veterans' stories bring history to life at UNF

John Francis Frank at UNF eventFor John Francis Frank, some World War II memories have remained vivid - even 73 years later. As a U.S. Navy soldier, Frank participated in D-Day, the invasion on Omaha Beach in northern France, on June 6, 1944. He was just 19 years old.

"In one day - 24 hours - 9,000 allied servicemen lay dead," Frank said. "I don't know if you knew that."

Frank was one of 10 WWII veterans who spoke at the University of North Florida in April, a first-ever event of this type on campus that was hosted by UNF's Military and Veterans Resource Center. The Center is the primary campus advocate for military affiliated students, providing services to ensure academic success to more than 1,200 veterans, dependents and active duty in spring 2017.


The panel of distinguished veterans told their personal stories of the war, from bombing targets, to escaping POW camps, to suffering brutality and starvation while building the Burma Railway - later the subject of the movie "The Bridge on the River Kwai." Many enlisted or were drafted as teenagers, fresh from high school. Now in their 90s, the men brought history to life as they told personal stories - some tragic, some humorous.

The audience of more than 100 people of all ages listened silently as John Frank explained that after D-Day the bodies of the slain soldiers could not be removed for weeks because the beach was full of mines. "The smell of decaying bodies was something you just had to live with," Frank said. "As I speak, I can smell it, it comes back." On the table in front of him sat a German helmet with a bullet hole. He had found the dead soldier several days after the invasion. "He took a direct hit, unfortunately," Frank said. "He wasn't much older than I was."

The veterans' stories varied; each had witnessed the war from a different role. Several were pilots with the Army Air Corps. Howard "Mike" Spencer flew 93 missions and described the P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft as "the plane that I think licked the Germans." The aircraft flew with 500-pound bombs under each wing, Spencer said, always with one mission - to destroy things. "We could make quite a mess of things when we were after a target," Spencer said. 

Ken Crocker, serving with the U.S. Army, said he was called a "forward observer," a position known today as "Boots on the Ground." "I could see the Germans and the Germans could see me," Crocker said, explaining that he spent three months in combat and two months in a hospital in France.

Dr. Don Farshing, a former UNF professor with the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, told a story of his time on a Dr. Don Farshing at UNF's Military and Veterans Resource Centerdestroyer near China. "Every day we had raisin bread for lunch, and I kept wondering why we were having so much raisin bread," Farshing said. He later learned that beetles had started hatching in the flour stored in the ship's hull, and the ship's medical staff said it was safe to use and that beetles were high in protein. "So the cooks figured out if they put some raisins in with them, we wouldn't know what was happening," Farshing said.

Several students, who said their grandfathers had served in WWII, asked members of the panel if they had heard of their units. Other audience members asked questions, while some simply wanted to say thank you.

"You went up against some the best professional armies in the world," a man in the audience said. "And you're still alive, and you beat them all. I just want to say thank you to the greatest generation, and I'm just happy to be in the same room with you."

Panel veterans listed left to right: Andy Ramotnik, Army Air Corps; Bill Ingram, U.S. Navy; Harold Ryce, U.S. Army; Manuel Dias, Army Air Corps; Howard "Mike" Spencer, Army Air Corps; Robert E. Connelly, Army Air Corps; John "Francis" Frank, U.S. Navy; Ken Crocker, U.S. Navy; Al Malitz, U.S. Army; Don Farshing, U.S. Navy  


Presidential search begins

The search for the University of North Florida's sixth president is officially underway. 

The Presidential Search Committee, appointed by UNF Board of Trustees Chair Joy Korman, held its first meeting in April to discuss how the search will be conducted for the successor to President John A. Delaney, who recently announced his plan to retire from the presidency in May 2018. 
"There are few things more important to the University of North Florida than the selection of its next president," said Korman, when she officially charged the panel at the first meeting. "To be successful, the search process must be transparent, inclusive and robust."

Presidential Search Committee MembersThe 15-member panel includes five members of the campus community: Drs. Radha Pyati, Andres Gallo, Karen Patterson and Judy Rodriguez and student Bella Genta. The Search Committee is chaired by Board of Trustees member and vice chair Kevin Hyde, and also includes several other members of the Board of Trustees, a member of the Florida Board of Governors, a UNF student, Foundation Board members, a representative of the UNF Financing Corporation, civic leaders and alums.

The committee reviewed the timeline for the search, which includes enlisting the assistance of a compensation consultant and an executive search firm. The Florida Board of Governors requires the search committee to submit at least three candidates to the UNF Board of Trustees for consideration. On-campus interviews of the top candidates are expected to take place in January and February of 2018, followed by the Board of Trustees selecting a best candidate. The Florida Board of Governors is scheduled to meet on UNF's campus March 28 – 29, 2018, and will likely confirm the president-elect at that time.
"Every step of the way includes opportunity for input from the campus community," said UNF General Counsel Karen Stone, who is assisting the Search Committee with the process. The first faculty forum was held April 26, and more campus forums will be scheduled in the fall. 

At the first Search Committee meeting, Dr. Matt Corrigan, professor and chair, Political Science and Public Administration spoke during the public comment period, thanking President Delaney for his service and asking the committee to focus on three important qualities: political skills, management abilities and fundraising expertise.

President Delaney also addressed the committee, expanding on Dr. Corrigan's list of qualities needed to successfully head UNF. "The next president needs to have a history of strong leadership, the ability to manage, an understanding of the political structure in Florida, and the personality and skills to raise money," Delaney said. "He or she also needs the expertise in understanding complex budgets." 
The final quality described by Delaney is the ability to understand academics, shared governance and the culture of the UNF campus. "Of these six qualities, many of the responsibilities can be delegated to a VP, except leadership and management," he said. 

The campus community can stay abreast of the search by following developments on the Presidential Search webpages, which include agendas and minutes of each meeting. The site also includes a survey, which the campus community is strongly encouraged to take.

Around Campus

Osprey research SOARS to new heights

UNF student Ricder Ricardo poses with art
Sophomore Ricder Ricardo, a fine arts major, stood before the black and white woodcut portraits displayed on his research poster. This was his second presentation of the year. "The first one was very nerve-wracking," Ricardo said. "There weren't many artists around then either, so it can make you feel very insecure standing with other presenters in biology and other sciences." 

But including artists like Ricardo and students of many disciplines to participate in SOARS - the Showcase of Osprey Advancements in Research and Scholarship - was very important to Kelsey Eagen, coordinator of UNF's Office of Undergraduate Research, which hosts the event. As the organizer this year, Eagen invited departments beyond those that normally participate and, as a result, was able to add an Interdisciplinary Hour featuring the Digital Humanities Initiative, International Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Ricardo was one of 175 presenters and an estimated 600 attendees who gathered in April at the University of North Florida's Student Union for the 16th annual universitywide conference. For his research, Ricardo chose to interview Cuban relatives and translate their life experiences into imagery. He spent hours interviewing, then drawing and then perfecting his woodcut technique. "I'm originally from Cuba, and I wanted to pay tribute to the women in my family," Ricardo said. "I wanted to represent not only their physicality but also their struggles with poverty, domestic violence and political oppression." Ricardo hopes his work will empower others living in these same conditions.

Senior Jason Smith, a computing and information sciences major, chose research that combined Virtual Reality-Based Visualization technology with medical data sets in order to analyze data in an efficient way. "Companies track everything so they have these large data sets, and there's not really meaning to them," Smith said. "So I figured combining the two emerging fields would shine some light on how to use them to further research."

Using cancer research data that included MRI images of tumors as well as a virtual reality headset and hand tracking and hand recognition software, Smith was able to create a novel 3-D scatter plot. A scientist wearing a virtual reality headset would be able to reach out and touch each tumor to examine its size, which might help identify a trend based on shape, Smith said, something not possible with an ordinary 2-D representation.UNF senior Jason Smith presents at SOARS

Other students presented research related to anthropology, biology, physics, psychology, nutrition and dietetics, education, chemistry, political science and more. SOARS also included graduate students, faculty and staff.

Eagen, who previously worked as a senior research fellow in the Office of Undergraduate Research, knows personally how much time research requires. "I believe that students need recognition for their research," Eagen said. "It's a good feeling to know that you're being recognized for all the hard work you do."

To acknowledge their efforts, Undergraduate Studies added seven $300 scholarships for showcase winners as well as three overall awards: one for the Undergraduate, one for the Post-Baccalaureate Researcher of the Year and an award for Mentor of the Year.

This year's SOARS also added a few other firsts: a graduate school fair featuring programs from UNF and other colleges from the Southeast; an Internship/job fair with business from around Jacksonville; and STARS faculty presentations.

SOARS is one of several events held during UNF's Research Week, which celebrates research, creation and innovation across all disciplines at the University.

Here are this year's winners: Undergraduate Researcher of the Year: Vincent Volante, Biology; Post-Baccalaureate Researcher of the Year, Charles Fitzsimmons, Psychology; and Mentor of the Year, Stephen Stagon, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering; Poster award winners: Ricder Ricardo, Art and Design; Kai Lister, Chemistry; Trevor Kennedy, Nutrition and Dietetics; Andrew Faus, Biology; Vincent Volante, Biology; Monica St. George, Psychology; and Veronica Hall, Psychology.


Educators share methods between continents

Dutch educators observe in Jacksonville classroomSpend a few minutes talking with Dr. Susan Syverud about her work and you quickly realize just how passionate she is about training teachers. As a UNF professor in residence at Woodland Acres Elementary, Syverud spends most of her time on-site working with UNF's pre-internship education students - guiding these future teachers as they do real work with real children.

This UNF model for teacher preparation played a big role in attracting a delegation of 61 education representatives from the Netherlands in April to see the University's partnership with Duval County Public Schools in action.

"It's evidence that we're doing good work," said Syverud, who works in the Department of Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreter Education within the College of Education and Human Services. "Faculty members at many other universities don't go into the schools. Our model has been this way since its inception more than 20 years ago."

The Dutch visitors - from 16 primary schools and their university partner - were led by Principal Marco Schaap and included mostly primary educators, principals and university faculty. "Our delegation was very impressed by the extensive cooperation between the school and the university in the context of professional development," Schaap said. "Ultimately it is about every child getting the best teacher. And we enjoyed the students in the classrooms. They're shining eyes were significant."

Dutch teacher with two studentsIn addition to observing Syverud and her students, the delegation visited Lakeshore Middle School where UNF Professor in Residence Dr. Debbie Reed focuses on special education and math and science methods.

The Dutch guests also saw the career progression that takes place for UNF students: They talked with interns and met former interns who had become classroom teachers, some of whom were even directing new UNF interns. "It's a nice model for teacher preparation, because you're creating a cycle of continuous improvement," Syverud said.

In the spirit of collaboration, the Dutch educators shared reading curriculum and teaching methods from their university-school partnership in the Netherlands.

"They have an excellent award-winning program," Syverud said. "Although we have a lot of strengths, we can improve without a doubt, so we look forward to an opportunity to visit and to learn even more from them."

Around Campus

MOCA Jacksonville: We are Family!

MOCA Jacksonville: Family Day, photo courtesy of Thomas HagerCelebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break at MOCA Jacksonville's Family Day on May 6.

Make your own artworks, visit the galleries, and experience multiple family-friendly organizations - all for free! The event takes place inside the Museum, in Hemming Park and on Laura Street (which will be closed off in front of the building for the day). Sample a wide variety of activities throughout the day for all ages: sidewalk chalk competition, performances by local students, a special menu from NOLA MOCA, local food trucks and much more.

Visit our We are Family Webpage for more details!


Program to train STEM teachers receives $1.4 million grant

Jacksonville Teacher Residency student helping a high school studentThe University of North Florida was awarded a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Fellowship to support the Jacksonville Teacher Residency program in the College of Education and Human Services.

The JTR program, in collaboration with Duval County Public Schools, prepares graduates of science, technology, engineering and math disciplines and professionals working in STEM fields to become math or science teachers in urban schools. With the support of this grant, JTR is currently recruiting 15 Noyce Teaching Fellows who will receive a $20,000 living stipend during their apprenticeship year. The grant also supports collaboration between COEHS and COAS faculty to deepen STEM content and instructional practices, and provide resources for an induction and professional development program to support the new teachers in their first four years of teaching. The Noyce Fellows will receive a $10,000 salary supplement each year to support their involvement during the four-year induction program.

"The NSF awards are highly competitive and prestigious," said Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey, COEHS dean. "By being selected to receive this award, the National Science Foundation recognizes the important work that DCPS and UNF are doing together. We are truly partners in the work of improving education by strengthening student and teacher learning."

The team that submitted the grant and will oversee the project is headed by Dr. Wanda Lastrapes, UNF program director for the Jacksonville Teacher Residency. Team members include Dr. Dale Cassamatta, professor in the Coastal and Marine Biology Flagship Program; Dr. Pali Sen, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics; and Drs. KoSze Lee and Brian Zoellner, both assistant professors/program coordinators in the Department of Foundations and Secondary Education.

"We're honored to receive this support for JTR from the prestigious National Science Foundation. This grant will allow us to broaden and deepen our preparation and support of new math and science secondary teachers," Lastrapes said. "Faculty from the COEHS and College of Arts and Sciences will explore innovative strategies to make STEM relevant and engaging for students in Duval County high-needs urban schools."

Since JTR's creation in 2014, the program has prepared 26 secondary math and science teachers for work in the county's urban public schools.

Interested individuals with a degree in a STEM field should contact JTR Recruitment Coordinator Emily Putnam at for application information.

Faculty Forum

Dr. Paul Eason

Dr. Paul Eason, Director of the Materials Science and Engineering Research FacilityDr. Paul Eason is director of the Materials Science and Engineering Research Facility (MSERF) and an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction.

What brought you to UNF? I was working in Jacksonville as a consultant when an opportunity to teach as an adjunct arose. I enjoyed it so much I applied for the next tenure track opening.

What courses do you teach? I've taught a number of courses in engineering and for the honors program over the years. Typically I teach the Materials Engineering course required for all mechanical engineering students and Senior Capstone Design. The remainder of my teaching usually falls to materials electives like materials selection, forensic engineering and materials characterization.

What research are you doing? I'm working in an area of metals processing called "cold spray." This process uses supersonic gases to spray solid metal powder onto surfaces at such high speed that the particles fuse to whatever they hit. It's like spray-painting with solid metal.

What's one thing in your field of study that people might not know? Materials science is not very well known outside of engineering circles in general. There is a world of interesting stuff that nobody knows about the materials they use every day.

Do you have a favorite spot on campus? Skinner Jones Hall (currently under renovation) has been the focus of much of my energy for the past several years. I have been working with administration to secure the money for the building and the Materials Science and Engineering Research Facility (MSERF). I am excited about the laboratory space we have created in the ground floor of SJH and the state-of-the-art electron microscopes that will be housed there. It's the realization of many years of effort, and we should be moving in this June. I hope it will be a game changer for research at UNF, and ultimately it's a testament to persistence and optimism.

What's the most rewarding academic experience you've had at UNF in or out of the classroom? I love so much about this job, I can't think of a single experience. When I know a student really gets something, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. That could be an engineering topic, or a communication skill or a cultural experience. I've been fortunate enough to take students overseas for engineering service projects, where the lessons are so fundamental and pure, you can't help but see the change in the student's perspective. That's just as potent to me as seeing a student's face when they understand a difficult topic in the classroom.

If you weren't teaching, what else would you be doing? I maintain a forensic engineering consulting practice, and I find it very rewarding. It's what I was doing before coming to UNF, and if I weren't teaching, I'm sure I would spend most of my energy doing that. I love the problem solving aspect of it, working with the attorneys and testifying in trials. It's fascinating to me.

What is your personal philosophy? You don't get what you don't ask (or work) for.

What do you like most about UNF? UNF is still of a size where a single faculty member can make a big difference. There is so much opportunity for faculty involvement, and such an appreciation for faculty who engage governance and service. It may get downplayed in our job duties, but I truly feel it's where we can make the biggest difference.

Describe your teaching style. Do you like to integrate tech, or are you more comfortable with a lecture-style classroom? I am "old school." I teach from the board, I don't use technology and don't let students come in late. With that said, my classes are not boring. I try to entertain as much as teach by providing real-world examples and a fair amount of humor to keep everyone engaged. And if that doesn't work, I just give a pop quiz.

Who has been the biggest role model in your life? I don't believe in role models. I set a high standard for myself and try to live up to it. My parents shaped my ideals and standards, but they always made it clear to me that my life was mine to live, and my responsibility. I never sought to model my life after anyone else.

If the world were silent for 20 seconds and all ears were turned to you, what would you say? Reform education in this country and start funding the science behind big ideas again. We need another moon landing or polio vaccine or electric light bulb. We aren't training kids to think science is either "cool" or something everyone can do if they just work hard. We are losing a generation of innovators.

What advice would you give a student who is about to graduate? Learn how to promote yourself and project confidence. Without confidence and solid communication skills, the smartest people can easily become marginalized.

If you could witness any historical event, what would it be? I would love to have been in the NASA control room for the moon landing. I think it was a watershed moment in humanity, and one of the greatest feats of engineering ever achieved.

What is your favorite memory from your undergraduate days? It cannot be shared in print.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Sterling Archer. If you know who he is, you don't have to ask why.

Where is the best place you've visited? I love traveling, and I don't know that one place is the "best." The next new place I get to go is the best because there is nothing like experiencing a new place for the first time.

How do you recharge? Fine food and wine with friends

What do you like most about Jacksonville? Where else have you lived? I grew up here. After grad school I worked in Tallahassee for a few years, then moved here for a consulting job. Jacksonville is home and always will be. It's familiar and comfortable, and I am never far from family.

What would you most regret not having done by the end of your life? Just like role models, I don't believe in regrets. There is not enough time in one life to experience all the things I would want to do. Looking at those future missed opportunities as future regrets seems defeatist. I would prefer to take every opportunity that presents itself and die without regrets.

Get to Know

Brandi Winfrey

Brandi Winfrey HeadshotBrandi Winfrey, coordinator, Department of Diversity Initiatives

What do you do at UNF? I advise the student cultural organizations that comprise the Student Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion, which include Asian Students in Alliance, Black Student Union and Latin American Student Organization. I am also responsible for coordinating the department's overarching events and programs such as the "Let's Talk About It …" discussion series and the QUEST program.

What do you enjoy about working here? The best thing about working at UNF is the people. There are so many fascinating people with inspirational stories and diverse life experiences. I love getting the opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life.

How long have you lived in Jacksonville? Where else have you lived? I moved to Jacksonville in 2014. I grew up in Dallas, went to school in Hampton, Virginia, and lived for a short while in Atlanta.

What one memory do you most treasure? Welcoming my daughter into the world last July is now one of my most treasured memories. I have never felt such an immense love for someone I hardly knew. She is truly a blessing and makes life worth living each day.

If you could have a dinner party and invite any four people, from the past or present, who would be on your guest list?
Lucille Ball – Growing up, I loved watching "I Love Lucy." It was one of my favorite shows.
Walt Disney – Whether you agree with some of the beliefs he may have had or not, Disney left behind a legacy that has transcended boundaries he likely never imagined. I would love to soak up some of his creative genius and hear more about his leadership model.
Gerald Levert – He is my favorite singer. I wish I had been able to see him perform live in concert before he died.
Bayard Rustin – As an advocate for social justice, I would love to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Rustin. He was such an unsung influential leader in the Civil Rights Movement, and I would welcome the opportunity to have him share his wisdom with me.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be? There are several jobs I wish I had the opportunity to try, including being a Disney princess for a day, but if I had to choose just one, I would like to be a stay-at-home mom. In my opinion, it is one of the hardest, but most underappreciated, jobs.

What superpower would you like to have? How would you use it? I always wished I could wrinkle my nose like Samantha Stephens and make anything happen. However, if I had to choose one superpower I would want the ability to fly. I mean who would not want to save all the money spent on airfare.

If you ruled the world, what would you change on Day 1? I would mandate that fall, winter, spring and summer breaks are national paid holidays required of all employers regardless of field or industry. Realistically, we spend the majority of our time working. Achieving true work life balance sometimes proves to be impossible, and I think it would be nice to ensure that employees have the chance to take a break from their professional responsibilities at some point in the world. Unfortunately, not everyone would be able to break at the same time, but I would ensure we all had the opportunity.

What would be the title for the movie version of your life? I would have to borrow a title from a 2011 movie with Sarah Jessica Parker, "I Don't Know How She Does It." I love to push myself and try to be all things to all people like most women I know in my life. Even though I try to tell myself, "You cannot be all things to all people," I have a feeling this is one habit that will continue to persist.

What's at the top of your bucket list? I want to write a fiction novel and/or a film script. I love creative writing. While I do not have as much free time to author stories as I did before, I still find myself getting lost in my ideas for characters, settings and plots.

What one food do you wish had zero calories? Thin Golden Oreos. Nabisco was very smart with that design. They are like potato chips; so I tell myself I will have just one, and before I know it, I have eaten half the pack.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you. People are always surprised to learn that I do not like cheese of any kind, rice, or eggs; some would consider these to be staples of American cuisine. I am a very interesting eater. Some like to describe me as picky, but actually, I like to think I just know what I like.

Where would you like to go on a dream vacation? I want to swim in the caverns of Greece, specifically the Blue Cave of Kastelorizo, Cave of Papanikolis and the Caves of Poseidon. The water of the Mediterranean Sea is absolutely gorgeous, and it comes in so many unique shades of blue and green. I think it would be an excellent oasis getaway for me and my husband.

Tell us a few of your favorite things.
Color: Pink
Ice cream flavor: Cookies and Cream
Movie: "My Best Friend's Wedding"
Quote: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."- Maya Angelou
TV show as a kid: "Rugrats"


Swoop Summary

UNF women's tennis team poses after winning titleThree-Peat! Ospreys Rally for ASUN Championship Title
No. 2 North Florida battled out from a 3-0 deficit to defeat top-seed FGCU, 4-3, in the April 23 ASUN Women's Tennis Championship Final. ASUN Tournament Most Valuable Player, Michelle Valdez, clinched the match with a three-set victory at No. 1 singles, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The victory marks the third-straight ASUN Women's Tennis title for UNF. Learn more about women's tennis.

Osprey Baseball Sweeps FGCU for the First Time in School History
The Ospreys pulled off the sweep over Florida Gulf Coast, 10-5, for the first time in school history on April 23 at Harmon Stadium. Learn more about Osprey baseball.

UNF women's golf wins ASUN championship

ASUN Champs!! Women's Golf Goes Back-to-Back For the second consecutive year, the North Florida women's golf team captured the ASUN Championship and earned the automatic bid to NCAA Regional play. The Ospreys had four players finish in the Top 10 led by freshman Sydney Shrader's third-place showing. Learn more about women's golf.

Findel-Hawkins Repeats as ASUN Player of the Year
Senior Jack Findel-Hawkins earned his second straight ASUN men's tennis Player of the Year honor, while head coach Mark Finnegan was named the league's Coach of the Year, as the pair highlighted six North Florida postseason accolades. Learn more about Jack Findel-Hawkins.

Faculty and Staff

Regalia for UNF faculty and staff accomplishmentsBrooks College of Health

Department of Clinical and Applied Movement Sciences
Dr. James Churilla will be recognized in May by his undergraduate institution, Towson University, for his career accomplishments. Dr. Churilla will be the honorary recipient of the prestigious Dean's Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Health Professions at Towson University on May 5, 2017.

Department of Public Health
Dr. Tes Tuason and graduate students F. Mosal and I. Sughayer published a book chapter "Prevention" in the A. Wenzel (Ed.) of The Sage Encyclopedia of Abnormal and Clinical Psychology, Sage Publications Inc., 2017.

Dr. Cynthia Williams will serve as guest editor for a special issue of Sage Open titled, "Healthcare Informatics: Data, Innovation and Delivery." The issue will focus on application of health care technologies and big data to bridge the gap between data/technology and outcomes, thus supporting the application of big data and technology. The manuscript deadline is August. Please submit papers here

Coggin College of Business

International Business Flagship Program
Alyssa Kyff and Erika Gallion will present a session on the international business minor for nonbusiness majors as an innovative way to increase study abroad participation at the NAFSA Association of International Educators Annual Conference, Los Angeles, May 28 – June 2.

College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Art and Design
Paul Karabinis has an exhibition called Alternative Processes: Handmade (peer curated by Dan Burkholder) at PhotoPlace Gallery in Middleburg, Vermont.

Chris Trice had a photograph selected for the juried exhibition "Water" at the Midwest Center for Photography in Wichita, Kansas.

Jenny Hager exhibited sculpture in "Humanity: The Value of a Life" at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Jacksonville.

Vanessa B. Cruz and Shelia Goloborotko performed "Synaesthesia" a collaboration with the Jacksonville Symphony in the UNF Recital Hall.

Department of Biology

Dr. Vladimir Mashanov gave a presentation "Developing the genomic toolkit to study echinoderm regeneration" at Bioinformatics and Genomics Seminar Series at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. With student undergraduate Maleana Khoury, Dr. Mashanov also gave an interview to the Florida Times-Union in March.

Department of History

Dr. Theo Prousis published a book, "Lord Strangford at the Sublime Porte (1824): The Eastern Crisis" (Istanbul: Isis Press, 2017), and two essays, "A Russian Pilgrim in Ottoman Jerusalem" and "Pilgrimage, Connection, Community," in "Thresholds into the Orthodox Commonwealth: Essays in Honor of Theofanis G. Stavrou" (Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2017), 101-125, 675-679.

Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Rumana Ahmed and Dr. Mahbubur Rahman (mentor) published "Mathematical modeling analysis to simulate the dynamics of Immune cells, HIV, and Tuberculosis" in the American Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 14(1) 35-48 (April).

School of Music
Dr. Erin K. Bennett served on the conference planning committee for the recent Music Teachers National Association annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland and presided over several sessions. In addition, Dr. Bennett was accompanied to the conference by graduate music student Sarah Hartley and undergraduate student Jordan Earle. (March)

Dr. Nick Curry was a featured clinician along with the cello professor from the Eastman School of Music at CelloFest at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. (April)

Professor Barry Greene presented two master classes and a concert at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico in San Juan. (April)

Department of Physics
Dr. Daniel Santavicca co-authored a paper with colleagues from MIT titled "Single-photon imager based on a superconducting nanowire delay line" in the journal Nature Photonics (March).

Dr. Nirmalkumar G. Patel has been awarded U.S. Patent No. US 9,606,078 B2 for his Patent Application No. 11/938,290 on "Nanocrystalline Indium Tin Oxide Sensors and Arrays" by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on March 28, 2017. This patent has 13 claims.

Dr. Nirmalkumar G. Patel was awarded the U.S. Patent No. US 7,930,923 B2 on April 26, 2011.

Dr. John W. Hewitt was selected for the Community Scholars Program as part of the 2017-18 cohort.

Dr. Jason T. Haraldsen and undergraduate student Thomas LaMartina presented "Understanding the magnetic and electronic properties of transition-metal chalcogenides" at the American Physical Society's March Meeting in New Orleans (March). At the same meeting, Dr. Haraldsen and undergraduate student Daniel Boyko presented "Determination of the spin dynamics and magnetic Dirac nodes in a Heisenberg honeycomb lattice," and Dr. Haraldsen presented "Impurity bands and half-metal states in Mn-doped GaS layers." Dr. Haraldsen has also published "Cyclic E2 and P4 on Alzheimer's Disease Pathways" in Advances in Alzheimer's Disease (March).

Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

Dr. Anne E. Pfister published "Forbidden Signs: Language Socialization and Therapeutic Approaches to Language in Mexico" in Ethos (March).

Dr. Anne E. Pfister, with her colleagues A. Cannon and J. Joanou, facilitated a workshop, "Applied Qualitative Research Using Multimodal, Arts-based Methods" at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (March).


College of Computing, Engineering and Construction

School of Computing
Dr. William Klostermeyer
published "An Eternal Domination Problem in Grids," with M.E. Messinger and A. Ayello in Theory and Applications of Graphs, Volume 4 (2017).

Dr. Ching-Hua Chuan organized the first International Workshop on Deep Learning for Music, in conjunction with the 2017 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (JICNN 2017), held in May in Anchorage, Alaska.

Dr. Karthik Umapathy presented a paper titled "Data Analytics as a conduit for progressing Information Systems Research in Nonprofit Organizations" at the Southern Association for Information Systems (SAIS) conference in St. Simons Island, Georgia, in March.

Dr. Karthik Umapathy has been appointed to serve as managing editor of the Journal of Southern Association for Information Systems (JSAIS), starting in April.

School of Engineering
Dr. Patrick Kreidl, with students Blake Nazario-Casey and Harris Newsteder, co-authored a paper titled "Algorithmic Decision-Making for Robot Navigation in Unknown Environments," presented as a poster at IEEE SoutheastCon in April, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dr. Patrick Kreidl, jointly with Dr. Shigang Chen at the University of Florida, gave a presentation titled "New Technologies in Defense Maneuver Against Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack" at the Florida Center for Cybersecurity's Research Symposium on April 4. Dr. Kreidl was also invited to chair the "Human Factor" session at this same conference.

Drs. Paul D. Eason and Murat Tiryakioğlu, with Matthew Weber and Hüseyin Özdeş, published "The effect of surface corrosion damage on the fatigue life of 6061-T6 aluminum alloy extrusions," in Materials Science and Engineering vol. 690 (2017) pp. 427-432.

Dr. Murat Tiryakioğlu, with Hüseyin Özdeş, published "On estimating high-cycle fatigue life of cast Al-Si-Mg-(Cu) alloys from tensile test results," in Materials Science and Engineering vol. 688 (2017) pp. 9-15.

Dr. Brian Kopp is conducting a study for the FAA's Center of Excellence on how best to utilize commercial satellite communications resources to support the new generation of low-earth orbit satellites, in conjunction with UNF now being an affiliate member of the Federal Aviation Administration's Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation.

Dr. Brian Kopp was invited to speak as a panelist at the American Meteorological Society's annual Washington Forum for a session on radio frequency spectrum used by NOAA for communications with its GOES satellites. The session was titled "Demystifying Spectrum – How will 1675-1680 MHz Spectrum Sharing Impact the Enterprise?"

College of Education and Human Services

Department of Childhood Education, Literacy and Tesol
Dr. Christine Weber
was recognized at the Scholars Transforming Academic Research Symposium (STARS) as a principal investigator who obtained cumulative funding of $1 million or more in grant awards over the past 10 years through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Dr. Kim Cheek wrote a chapter titled, "Processes Shaping the Earth" in a new e-book, "Mastering Science Content for Middle School Teaching and the NES General Science Exam." Even though the book was not specifically written to address FTCE competencies, the science content in the book will be useful for elementary teacher candidates preparing for the subject area exam on the FTCE.

Dr. Stacy Boote with co-author Dr. David Boote, presented their published paper, "ABC Problem in Elementary Mathematics Education: Arithmetic Before Comprehension" involving prospective elementary teachers (PSTs) (n=121) (6 semesters, 7 classes) engaged in a problem solving activity each week in class, at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' (NCTM) Research Conference in San Antonio in April. They presented PSTs' solution methods for one intentionally misleading mathematics problem, analyzed using a convergent parallel mixed methods content analysis. Two-thirds of PSTs (n=80) misunderstood the problem scenario and directly translated numbers from the problem text. PSTs who answered correctly (n=41) used a problem model strategy to comprehend the scenario and were more likely to use multiple models, draw a diagram, and draw a diagram before using another model; however, a large number of PSTs who answered incorrectly also used multiple models and drew diagrams. Self-correction was not common (8 of 121), because their equations did not provide feedback or support comprehension. Three kinds of imprecision also affected problem comprehension and were evident in both correct and incorrect solutions. Intentionally misleading problems helped PSTs see consequences of their mathematical habits and highlighted the importance of sense making and precision when creating problem models.

Department of Foundations and Secondary Education
Dr. Hope E. Wilson
and student Marilyn Heth were honored by the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council this year as part of the Young Women of Distinction event. Dr. Wilson was awarded the Volunteer of Excellence award, and Heth earned her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting, for her project involving awareness of allergies among young children.

Congratulations to Drs. Wanda Lastrapes, KoSze Lee, Brian Zoellner, Pali Sen, and Dale Casamatta for receiving an award expected to total more than $1.42 million for their NSF Noyce grant project titled "Jacksonville Teacher Residency Noyce Fellows: Empowering Urban Learners through STEM Education."

Clay County School hosted University of North Florida at its Spring Mock Interview experience. This event, coordinated by Clay County's SPRINT Specialists, provided a real-world interviewing experience for graduating COEHS students. The interns rotated through four rounds of interviews with district administrators and had the opportunity to be interviewed, as well as observe the process as their peers were interviewed. Time was allowed at the end of each round for debriefing, thus enabling the interns to hone their interview skills through the feedback provided.

Department of Leadership, School Counseling and Sport Management
Drs. Kristi Sweeney
, Luke Cornelius, and Jennifer Kane were all successful in their application for tenure and/or promotion.

More positive press for CAMP Osprey! Read more about the good work of Dr. Matt Ohlson.

Visiting Professor Rudy Jamison successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in March.

The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate has accepted the University of North Florida among its 22 new graduate schools of education as members into the consortium. Dr. David Hoppey and others wrote the successful application. Learn more about the Carnegie Project

Dr. John Kemppainen received an award at the St. John's County Career Academy Awards night in April for representing UNF as a charter advisory board member to the St. Augustine High School Teacher's Academy.

Center for Instruction and Research Technology
Jamie Chaires
, instructional designer, presented "Streamlining the Migration of Courses to Canvas" at CanvasCon 2017, held at the University of South Florida. Ross Bell, assistant director of online learning support, also co-presented "Canvas without Borders: Inviting Guest Users" with Scott Peden of ITS.

Allison Archer and Megan Bracewell, instructional designers, presented two emerging ideas sessions at the 2017 OLC Innovate conference in New Orleans: "5 Essential Strategies to Support Student Engagement Online" and "Revamping Faculty Development: Bridging the Divide Between Distance and Blended Learning."

Thomas G. Carpenter Library
Maria Atilano
, assistant University librarian, has been invited to present a webinar for the Northeast Ohio Regional Library System on May 30. Titled "Shut Up and Listen: How We Used Social Listening to Connect with Customers and Build a Community," the webinar will explain how the Thomas G. Carpenter Library refocused its social media efforts to concentrate on listening and engagement.


Dateline balloons to celebrate our faculty and staffMilestone anniversaries
Congratulations to the following employees with a milestone anniversary at UNF in April:

35 years
Shawn Brayton, Director, Academic Support Services, Academic Affairs

25 years
Nancy Boyle
, Assistant Director, Research Program Services, Small Business Development Center

20 years
Angela Lee
, Coordinator, Training, Administration and Finance, Communications and Training

Keith Martin, Associate Director, Arts and Sciences

10 years
Christopher Brantley
, IT Support Tech, Training and Services Institute
Tracey Luke, Office Assistant, Enrollment Services Communication Systems
Lauren Newton, Associate University Librarian
Nina Smith, Instructor, Nursing
Cherisse Sumner, Human Resources Specialist, Human Resources

5 years
Carolyn Ball
, Adjunct, Exceptional Deaf and Interpreter Education
Tarik Merkhi, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance and Energy Management
Robert Truglia, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance and Energy Management

The following employees were either hired by UNF or were promoted from OPS positions recently:

Cheryl Bethune, Administrative Assistant, Florida Institute of Education
Joshua Buckley, Parking Attendant, Parking and Transportation Services
Adam Chalmers, Coordinator, Library Services
Tera Edwards, Groundskeeper, Maintenance and Energy Management
Torris Griffin, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Tanner Ives, Coordinator, Sports Media Relations, Athletic Communications
Joshua Jasterzenski, Custodial Supervisor, Custodial Services
Marc Kaiser, Director of Development, Computing Engineering and Construction
David Kersey, Academic Advisor, Advising
Lauren King, Office Assistant, Student Government Business and Accounting Office
Pernell McGhee, Maintenance Helper, Maintenance and Energy Management
Jennifer Murray, Director, Library Systems
Kelly Rhoden, Events Coordinator, Alumni Engagement
Paul Stewart, Director, University Facilities Planning
Catherine Swindell, Curatorial Assistant, MOCA Jacksonville
Marcellus Vanderhorst, Senior Custodial Worker, Maintenance and Energy Management
Rachel Winter, University Conduct Officer, Office of the Dean of Students
Djit Yarbro, Custodial Supervisor, Custodial Services
Devin Zvosec, Assistant Athletic Coach, Women's Soccer 


Great Job
The following employees were promoted recently:

Mary Bernardi, Office Manager, School of Computing
Timothy Cheney, Associate Director, Research Program Services, Center For Community Initiatives
Denean Gray, Senior Parking Services Supervisor, Parking and Transportation Services
Alexandra Iannone, Assistant Director of Development, Athletic Department
Robert Marble, Parking Services Supervisor, Parking and Transportation Services
Patrick Moore, Senior Applications Systems Analyst, Enterprise Systems

Heartfelt well wishes in their new endeavors for the following employees, who left UNF recently:

Michelle Adams-Manning, Coordinator, Residence Life, The Flats
Jan Camino, Recycle Refuse Worker, Recycle
Julie Chabrian, Laboratory Technician, Art and Design
Larry Coggins, Law Enforcement Liaison, TSI - IPTM and PSI Employees
Alberto Cubillas Capote, Custodial Worker, Physical Facilities
Roger Glenn, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Calvin Hines, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Blair Romain, Executive Secretary, Academic Affairs
Nancy Spaid, University Librarian, Library
Kameelah Spence, Coordinator, Equal Opportunity and Diversity
Le Shawn Spruiell, Office Manager, Disability Resource Center
Lori Stanton, Office Manager, Computing Engineering and Construction

The Goods


Saffron thread from flowersThe spice saffron is derived from the dried threads of the crocus sativus flower that is known as the saffron crocus. Although saffron is mainly known as a seasoning and coloring agent in foods, its health benefits also have been acknowledged historically. Today numerous health claims have been attributed to saffron, including its beneficial effects in cancer prevention, vision improvement, energy enhancement, immune strengthening, asthma relief, depression treatment, Alzheimer's protection and menstrual cramp relief. However, in many cases, more research is needed to support these claims. Dr. Ali Jahan-Mihan, assistant professor of nutrition in the Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program, shares more about the myths and facts of saffron.

Saffron includes more than 150 aroma-yielding and volatile compounds. Dried saffron contains 65 percent carbohydrates, 6 percent fat, 11 percent protein and 12 percent water. Saffron contains vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron and vitamin B6. More importantly, saffron contains a great number of bioactive components that are accountable for most of the health benefits that are attributed to saffron. Carotenoids, including zea-xanthin, lycopene, a- and ß-carotenes, safranal and crocin are among these components.

Myth or Fact? Saffron can improve age-related vision issues.Saffron flowers
: This can be explained by the antioxidant properties of several bioactive components in saffron. In one study, a significant increase in sensitivity to light was reported in response to a 20 mg dose of saffron that was given to patients who were diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration for three months. This effect can be attributed to the B-carotene content of saffron.

Myth or Fact? Saffron can improve signs of depression.
: Several studies have supported the antidepressant effects of saffron in patients with major depressive disorder; however, the deficient quality of these studies due to poor designs, small sample sizes and short duration make their results unreliable.

Myth: Saffron has some anti-cancer properties.
: Anti-cancer effects of saffron have been shown in several studies and this effect is mainly attributed to its bioactive components, including crocin and crocetin. The proposed mechanisms are stimulation of apoptosis and inhibition of cell production in cancer cells. In studies on patients with various types of cancers, including lung, gastrointestinal tract and reproductive system, extracts of saffron showed potential chemotherapeutic effects. However, more study needs to determine which component(s) of saffron are accountable for this effect and also to determine the optimal dose.

Myth or Fact? Saffron can treat asthma symptoms.
: Some animal and clinical studies showed the beneficial effect of crocetin, a bioactive compound in saffron, in treatment of asthma. Anti-inflammatory and the muscle relaxant effect of crocetin have been shown in several studies.

Myth or Fact? Saffron can help to reduce blood pressure.
: The results of the studies aren't consistent. In one study, saffron lowered blood pressure, while it increased systolic blood pressure in another study. However, the lowering effect of saffron on blood pressure didn't last for a long period. So, it could be assumed that saffron has no long-term effect on blood pressure. High doses of saffron can stimulate the uterus and, in severe cases, may cause miscarriage. Therefore, saffron should be avoided during pregnancy.

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 "Taste" section of The Florida Times-Union. Have a question about saffron? Contact Jahan-Mihan at

Saffron Rice 

(serves 5)
Uncooked long-grain rice: 2 cups
Crushed saffron thread: 3/4 teaspoon
Butter: 4 tablespoons
Cardamom seeds: 6 whole
Cloves: 4 whole
Cinnamon sticks: 3
Onion: 1 chopped
Boiling vegetable broth: 3 cups
Salt: 1 teaspoon
1. Soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes.
2. Soak saffron threads in 2 tablespoons boiling water.
3. Melt butter over medium heat; then add cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Fry for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir in onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the color turns to golden brown. Stir in the rice, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
5. Pour in the boiling broth and stir in the salt and saffron.
6. Cover and cook until rice is cooked and all liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes.

Bright Birds Know

UNF student working on a laptopFor the second time in two months, the University of North Florida's online programs earned bragging rights for national recognition.

In April, Affordable Colleges Online recognized UNF as a Best Online College of 2017 for its excellence in online learning. The University was ranked for Best Online Master's in Nutrition and Best Online Nutrition Degrees, both in the Brooks College of Health's Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program; and for Best RN to BSN Program in the School of Nursing Flagship Program also within Brooks College of Health.

In March, ranked UNF's Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics online degree program No. 9 in the country based on affordability, program prominence, student success, flexibility and related degrees. UNF was the only university in the state to make the ranking.

Advantage Ospreys!