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InsideApril 2020

Around Campus

Finding Solutions in Challenging Times

SOARS 2020

Difficult situations inspire creative solutions. Just ask Dr. Karen Cousins, the director of UNF’s Office of Undergraduate Research. As she was preparing for SOARS — the Showcase of Osprey Achievements in Research and Scholarship — the spread of coronavirus suddenly made face-to-face presentations impossible.

Yet instead of canceling the annual research poster event, Cousins and a team from the Center for Instruction and Research Technology developed an impressive website solution: a virtual conference that can be accessed safely by online visitors everywhere. Thus, SOARS will go on as planned, but in a new format. It will open online, Wednesday, April 8, at noon.

At that time, all the undergraduate and graduate student research posters will be made available to viewers visiting the website, with embedded audio files, and an option for viewers to submit questions and comments. Project of Merit awards will be posted using virtual ribbons.

For senior Caroline Howard, the work-around is remarkable. The sociology major had planned to present at SOARS as well as two other Florida conferences in April. Yet soon after Florida’s universities moved to online classes, she received cancellation notices — except for SOARS.

Howard said that she and other students she’s talked with are thrilled that all their hard work will be available online. She also isn’t too surprised that Cousins did not cancel. “She’s amazing,” Howard said. “She really puts a lot of effort into helping students on her team. For a lot of us, the website is really a best-case scenario. Now we have an opportunity to showcase our research, and we may be able to reach more people than ever before.” Also, because each project has an individual web address, Howard will be able to add her project URL to her applications for graduate schools.

She has worked on her research for nearly a year with faculty mentor Dr. David Jaffee. Howard analyzed several factors to determine if there was a correlation between redlining — designating an area as unfit for loans — and the disproportionate economic hardship between historically black and predominantly white areas. Her research is titled “'A State Sponsored System of Segregation': Examining the Contemporary Impact of Redlining.”

For Cousins, finding a virtual solution to showcase students’ research work has been exciting. “I think the website is really going to be cool,” Cousins said. “I don’t know how I got so lucky to work with the CIRT team. I never thought of canceling the conference, but I didn’t know it could be done in such an incredible way.”

Visit the SOARS Virtual Conference website, April 8, at noon, to see UNF undergraduate and graduate student research presentations.

Around Campus

UNF Virtual Learning for Young Children Now Available

Reader from the video program

Welcome to virtual learning! Whether you’re working from home with young children, or know families who are, UNF has some welcome news that we hope you will help us spread.

The campus community, the general public — anyone with an internet connection — now has free access to “A Virtual Early Learning Highway for Young Children.” This morning, the Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida launched this online program designed for three- and four-year-old learners, though storytimes may benefit older children as well. All learning activities can be accessed through smart phones, tablets or computers.

Why is this important?

  • The virtual program was created to help young children continue to feel connected and nurtured even though a significant part of their routine has been disrupted.
  • It provides families with weekly learning-focused activities they can do with their children, all designed to foster early learning literacy and learning success.
How to access?
  • You can access the virtual learning highway on its website
  • Once there, you will find road markers with videos, routines and activities.
  • Every week, Monday through Friday, families can use a daily plan that includes seven different road markers to view and do with their children. The daily schedule will change each morning at 7 a.m.

Who made this possible?
To reach as many families as possible, many partners have come together.

  • The program was spearheaded by The Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida. FIE provides leadership to improve education at all levels by working with a variety of state partners.
  • The University of North Florida
  • The Early Learning Coalition of Duval
  • The UNF Crawford Distinguished Professor Fund
  • Alliance for Jacksonville Early Learning (AJEL members include Community Foundation, Duval County Public Schools, Episcopal Children’s Services, Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville Public Library, Kids Hope Alliance, Lutheran Services Head Start, Mayor’s Office, City of Jacksonville, United Way of Northeast Florida, and citizens who advocate for high-quality learning opportunities in our city)

For more information, please send an email to Dr. Heather Monroe-Ossi.  

Around Campus

Five Tips to Help Cope with Social Distancing

Dr. Tracy Alloway offers tipsPhysical isolation may be the new normal temporarily, but technology is providing several good ways to cope. 


Dr. Tracy Alloway, associate professor of psychology, presented some tips on activities that will increase your well-being and yet keep you safe at the same time.

1. Connect on social media
2. Walk outside
3. Use expressive writing (to release those negative feelings)
4. Reach out to someone with text, phone or picture
5. Focus on the things you can control, such as contacting a friend or setting up a virtual coffee break

For all the details, you can find Alloway's TV interview online.

Around Campus

Ospreys Working Hard at Home

As we adjust to working from home, we thought it might be fun to visit some of the workspaces of our fellow employees — virtually of course. We asked for some tips and comments about their remote experiences. Below are their thoughts and photos, including a few pets helping out in the home office!


Dr. Matthew Ohlson Dr. Matthew Ohlson, director, Taylor Leadership Institute and associate professor: 


"Our rescue boxer, Lucky, loves all the people time with me as I'm working, leading and teaching remotely. For me, I absolutely love the opportunity to stay connected to our Leadership students through our Virtual Office Hours and providing them with a variety of leadership development resources including TedTalks, recorded training sessions and live Zoom sessions with campus and community leaders."



Jessica Wingate


Jessica Wingate, assistant director, social media, Marketing and Communications:


"Working from home has allowed me to spend more time with my dog, Bozley! My tip for working from home: Establishing a routine and sticking with it! Setting an alarm, taking a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast then settling in my dedicated workspace gets me in the mindset to focus on work."




Jacey Willbach

Jacey Willbach, assistant director of operations, OneJax:


"I was not sure what working from home would be like, but it’s really been productive and quite fun! I like being able to work in my at-home office for Zoom meetings with our OneJax team. When I need a change of scenery, I move to the kitchen table (which is dangerous with all the food so close). It’s a good way to have some change in the day. It’s also not bad being able to look up and see my fiancé’s face working at his makeshift working-from-home desk!"  


Diego Velazquez

Diego Velazquez, assistant director, graphic design, Marketing and Communications:


• Stay disciplined; have a set starting time and end time. Make sure to stand and walk outside

• Workspace — make it comfortable and inspiring!

• Take breaks, every two hours get up and go for a five-minute walk outside."




Dr. Stephynie Perkins


Dr. Stephynie Perkins, associate professor, School of Communications:


"To help students adapt to the digital environment, I post additional audio reminders to Canvas, and we're collaborating on team projects using Zoom or Big Blue Button. I hope that seeing each other's faces and hearing our voices prevents students from feeling as though they've been set adrift. We may be separated, but we're not alone."





UNF music students in virtual class



Dr. Erin Bodnar, assistant professor, School of Music:


"Here is a picture of some of our UNF music education students in Bassoon and Oboe Pedagogy class! Five bassoons and four oboes, one without video! We play muted as a group and individually for each other with the sound on."




Dr. Paul Eason

Dr. Paul Eason, professor and interim associate dean, director of MSERF, School of Engineering:

"See Speck sit in on a Zoom meeting. See Speck zone out in seconds. Speck finds engineering a bit dull." 

Around Campus

Exercise Can Be Done Anywhere

Man exercisingTo learn how to stay fit without going to a gym, we asked Jim Baur, associate director of the Student Wellness Complex, to give us some tips on exercising at home. It seems we went to the right person. Baur told us he has exercised for many years in UNF’s fitness centers, but when his children were small, he set up his gym in his garage with minimal, and even homemade equipment — and he's never left. Here is why and some tips he shared:

From Jim Baur:
The opening of the Student Wellness Center offered students cutting-edge fitness offerings unmatched anywhere within a 100-mile radius. Me — I stayed in my garage. My body weight, three rusty dumbbells, yard, living room floor, bicycle, running shoes, the sidewalk, road, beach or trails at Hanna Park, time and an open mind is all I needed.

Here are some things I tell people all the time:

  • Exercise can be done anywhere, anytime, but the best time to start is right now, not tonight, tomorrow or next week.
  • What your body needs is a stimulus. I’ve repeated this quote many times: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten. You need to give your body a reason to adapt." That one extra rep or one-minute longer is really the whole purpose.
  • Your muscles couldn't care less what the resistance is — whether it's a $3,000 Nautilus machine or your own body weight. In fact, most body weight exercises are superior to weight equipment because they are typically multi-joint, requiring many more muscles to respond, working in unison, especially the core muscles.

Online classes now available
Kacie Smith, our fitness coordinator, and her student fitness staff have put together classes online including HIT, Zumba, Tabata, Yoga, Booty Blast, at-home workouts and more. The schedule will be posted soon and will be available via Facebook and Instagram.

As for a good online resources, I recommend the website: It has great information and short video clips of how to perform exercises, particularly all types of calisthenics.

Here are some of the basics:

  • Pushups (or modified)
  • Lunges (or modified, assisted lunge, half-step lunge)
  • Body weight squats (modified by limiting range of motion)
  • Calf raises
  • Dips
  • Pullups/hangs/hangs with knee raises
  • Situps/crunches/planks 
With dumbbells, one could add:
  • Shoulder raises (front, side, rear)
  • Shoulder presses
  • Curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Chest press and dumbbell flies
  • Rows
More advanced:
  • Handstands or handstand pushups against wall
  • Jump squats
  • Burpees
  • Plyo lunges
  • Knees-to-bar
  • Plyo pushups
  • Hands-to-elbows
  • Dumbbell snatch
  • Mayweather sit-to-standups 

Around Campus

Student Emergency Relief Fund

UNF campus

In response to inquiries from the campus community on how best to assist students during the coronavirus crisis, the University recently launched an effort to raise funds for the Student Emergency Relief Fund. As the situation has evolved, many students are facing unexpected financial hardships. To support the critical needs of those students, Ospreys can donate to the Student Emergency Relief Fund, which will offer financial assistance to currently enrolled students with immediate need. Donations may also be made to Lend-A-Wing, our Student Government’s food pantry. 


Support our students with your online donations.

Around Campus

Generosity Reaches New Heights on Giving Day

Giving Day thank yous


UNF’s Giving Day 2020 reached a new record high.

The annual fundraising campaign held in March raised $338,404, more than tripling last year's total. Funds donated during the campaign will support student programs, cutting-edge research, athletic teams and scholarships. Ann McCullen, vice president for University Development and Alumni Engagement, said the generosity of donors will make a great impact on University programs and student success.


“A big thank you to all the donors who made UNF Giving Day a tremendous success," McCullen said. "Many, many Ospreys joined the effort, and when our UNF family comes together, we accomplish great things. Each of these gifts will make such a difference for UNF students and programs that need assistance now more than ever.” 


Learn more about ways to support our students and our beautiful campus.


Balloons with UNF logo

Congratulations to the following employees with a milestone anniversary in February:

20 Years
James Lambert, Associate Professor, Economics

15 Years
Nicole Sayers
, Assistant Director, Research Integrity, ORSP
Mary Stumph, Legal Secretary, General Counsel

10 Years
Sunshine Isbell, Program Assistant, Physical Facilities
Paul Newton, Maintenance Mechanic, University Housing

5 Years
Timothy Barnes, Accounting Associate, Student Government Business and Accounting Office
Justin Crandall, Instructional Specialist, English Language Program
Erin Davis, Coordinator, Accounting, Training and Services Institute
Darrick Gibbs, Head Athletic Coach, Women's Basketball
Doris James, Senior Custodial Worker, Student Union
Angela Johnson, Office Manager, Facilities Planning
Karen Lucas, Assistant VP, Enrollment Services
Megan Porter, Assistant Director, COEHS Operations, College of Education and Human Services
Pamela Wingard, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Damien Wise, Custodial Services Superintendent, Custodial Services

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

Kyla Alexander, Grants Specialist, TSI - IPTM and PSI Employees
Nyieta Charlot, Coordinator, Academic Support Services, International Business Curriculum
Ashley Chivalette, Coordinator, Annual Giving, Special and Major Gifts
Lauren Fogle, Assistant Director, Alumni Engagement, Alumni Services
Rachel Given, Coordinator, Athletic Video Production
Biljana Goranovic, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Stephanie Grant, Senior Procurement Associate, Procurement Services
Chanel Hamilton, Police Communications Operator, University Police Department
John Hamilton, Stores Receivable Clerk, Shared Cost
Ashley Helmick, Coordinator, Alumni Services, Alumni Services
Shania Hernandez, Academic Advisor, First-Year Advising
Jacqueline Jackson, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
James Justice, Degree Auditor, Undergraduate Studies
Brenda McClary, Coordinator, Special Events, Alumni Services
Gabriela Negron-Hoover, Student Financial Aid Coordinator, Financial Aid Office
Fatiyah Rahim-Williams, Assistant Director, Research Prog Services, ORSP
Angela Redd, Executive Secretary, Stewardship and Donor Relations
Whitney Riley, Assistant VP, Development, University Development and Alumni Engagement
Emily Roth, Assistant Director, Career Management Center
Adam Solomon, University Librarian, Library
Charcy Stiller, Assistant Athletic Trainer
Susan Trudeau, Coordinator, Academic Support Services, Center for Community-Based Learning
Stephen Vaughan, Law Enforcement Officer, University Police Department
Katherine Wagman, Program Assistant, Student Affairs
Ju'Coby Todd Washington, Director, Student Financial Aid, Financial Aid Office 

Rebecca Weiner, Program Assistant, Fine Arts Center
Bobby Williams, Floor Care Worker, Custodial Services

Great Job
The following employees were promoted recently:

LeAnn Anderson-Vincecruz, Associate Director, Academic Support Services, COAS Advising
Kathryn Ayres, Event Planning Specialist, Student Government, Student Union
Alexander Perez, Senior IT Support Tech, User Services
Erica Samples, Office Manager, Psychology
Joslyn Simmons, Administrative Assistant, Coggin College of Business
Brittney Van Deventer, Coordinator, Web Services, Marketing and Communications
Todd Vatter, Assistant Director, Communications, Administration and Finance

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

Heath Barker, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance and Energy Management
Nancy Brickell, Registered Nurse, Student Health Services
Qin Cao, Accountant, Training and Services Institute
Greshawn Collier, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Jaylin Daniels, Academic Support Services Coordinator, One-Stop Center
Frederick Dunaway, Law Enforcement Officer, University Police Department
Eli Fisher, Groundskeeper, Grounds
Jamoni Hill, Groundskeeper, Grounds
Lily Hinz, Assistant Director, Communications, College of Education and Human Services
Brankica Iljic, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Hollis Klein, Program Assistant, Taylor Engineering Research Institute
Jessica Lerman, Student Financial Aid Coordinator, Financial Aid Office
Jennifer Muller, Director, Academic Support Services, Enrollment Services
Andrew Pitts, Senior IT Support Technician, Florida Institute of Education
Shannon Reynolds, Event Planning Specialist, Student Government, Student Union
Jared Rosse, IR Analyst, Institutional Research
Susan Schlieben, Coordinator Athletic Business Operations, Athletics
Tarynne Scott, Office Manager, College of Education and Human Services
Lorraine Seidel, Executive Secretary, Physical Facilities
Elizabeth Strogoff, Academic Support Services Coordinator, One-Stop Center
Amiko Woods, Fire Alarm Technician, Maintenance and Energy Management

Faculty and Staff

Regalia for UNF faculty and staff accomplishments

Brooks College of Health
Heather McCann, Dr. Michele Moore, Dr. Elissa Barr and Kristina Wilson, published “Sexual Health Services in Schools: A Successful Community Collaborative” in Health Promotion Practice, 2020. 

Dr. Michele Moore, Dr. Elissa Barr and Heather McCann, “Sexual Health Services in Schools: A Successful Community Collaborative,” Community Sexual Health Education & Research Initiative, University of North Florida, March 2020.

The work of Dr. Sericea Stallings-Smith, Dr. Hanadi Hamadi, Breck Peterson, Dr. Emma Apatu and Dr. Aaron Spaulding was featured in an article titled “A Case for Public Health Initiatives” in Mayo Clinic’s Advancing the Science research news.


Coggin College of Business
Len Furman, adjunct professor, self-published an article on Linkedin to assist businesses as they try to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

College of Arts and Sciences

Art, Art History and Design
Stephen Heywood, professor of ceramics: Cup of Love – National Invitational Exhibition, Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design, St. Louis.

Lance Vickery, assistant professor, Installation of large-scale public artwork at the Jesse Ball DuPont Building in downtown Jacksonville. The sculpture is inspired by the mid-century modern architecture of this amazing building by architect Taylor Hardwick. It is meant to look to the past and to the future. The piece will honor Sherry Magill, who is retiring as president of The Jessie Ball DuPont fund, which funded the project.

Dr. Cliff Ross, professor of biology, and his colleagues K. Pagenkopp-Lohan, R. Dimaria, D. Martin and G. Ruiz, published the article “Diversity and habitat associations of Labyrinthula spp. in the Indian River Lagoon System” in the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms.

Dr. Cliff Ross, professor of biology, and his colleagues D. Reynolds, M. Yoo, and D. Dixson, published the article “Exposure to the Florida red tide dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis, and its associated brevetoxins induces ecophysiological and proteomic alterations in Porites astreoides” in the journal PLoS ONE.

Dr. Mike Aspinwall, assistant professor of biology, and his co-authors (>700 international collaborators) published ‘TRY plant trait database – enhanced coverage and open access’ in the January 2020 issue of Global Change Biology. 

Fatima Rehman, lecturer at the Department of Biology, published “A Chimeric Signal Peptide-Galectin-3 Conjugate Induces Glycosylation-Dependent Cancer Cell-Specific Apoptosis,” January 2020, Clinical Cancer Research, DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-3280

Dr. Hannah R. Malcolm, assistant professor in chemistry, presented the work of her students, Brittni Miller and Hannah Dickinson, and collaborators, Dr. Albina Mikhaylova and Dr. Brian Wingender, as an oral presentation “Mechanosensitive ion Channels in Paraburkholderia graminis” at the 64th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society Meeting in San Diego. 

Dr. Margaret Stewart, associate professor, communications studies, presented at the 10th annual International Crisis & Risk Communication Conference in March 2020, “Development of STREMII: Five Year Anniversary Review & Reflection of a Model for Crisis Communication and Social Media.”

Dr. Nick Curry, associate professor of cello, presented at the American String Teachers National Conference. Additionally, his pre-college cello student was one of two cellists in the country selected to play in the pre-college cello masterclass during the conference in March.

Around Campus

Swoop Summary

Student-athletes honoredHoop Duo Garners NABC All-District Honors
Senior North Florida basketball standouts Ivan Gandia-Rosa and Garrett Sams were named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) 2019-20 NABC Division I All-District 3 team as selected and voted on by member coaches of the NABC in NCAA Division I. Learn more about the All-District Honors.

Coach Matthew DriscollDriscoll Earns Extension Thru 2024-25 Season
University of North Florida head basketball coach Matthew Driscoll agreed in principle to a contract extension as announced by UNF Director of Athletics Lee Moon. The deal extends Driscoll from the end of his current contract in May of 2022 through May of 2025. Learn more about Matthew Driscoll’s career at UNF.

Escobar, Shaw, Jubran Earn ASUN All-Academic Indoor Honors
George Escobar, Spencer Shaw and Nathan Jubran earned spots on the ASUN All-Academic Indoor Track and Field team announced by the conference office. Learn more about the All-Academic Indoor Honors awarded.


Spread the Word

UNF History Graduate Program Ranked No. 7 in Nation

graduate studentsThe University of North Florida’s history graduate program was recently ranked seventh in the Top 10 in the nation by The Masters Program Guide. In this ranking, UNF is included with other leading educational institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and Columbia. The Masters Program Guide also noted that UNF is the youngest institution on the list. Learn more about the UNF master's in history program.

Inside UNF is a monthly publication produced by UNF Marketing & Communications
Marsha Blasco, Editor

April issue contributing writers: Emily Simon and Jim Baur