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InsideMay 2021

Around Campus

Sculpting an Art Program at UNF



When Jenny Hager moved from California in 2006 to teach at UNF, the University had decided to scrap its sculpture program. There were no students enrolled in the major, and the program existed in a small work space with few tools or equipment.

While that might have deterred some people, Hager, professor in Art, Art History and Design, saw it as an opportunity. With 10 years of sculpting experience and a master’s in sculpture and digital media, she felt she could handle the challenge and asked that the program remain. “I actually thought that was exciting,” Hager said. “I think other people thought I was crazy, but I thought, ‘I can build something here, because it’s like a blank slate. That’s kind of what I set off to do.” To help in that effort, Hager worked with husband Lance Vickery, who began as an adjunct at UNF and now serves as an assistant professor.

Jenny Hager and Lance Vickery assist with a sculpture installation downtownFast forward 15 years, and the program has made its mark at UNF. Together, Hager and Vickery attracted interest in the major and successfully created public art projects for the students, whose work now graces the campus, the Seaside Sculpture Park in Jacksonville Beach and most recently downtown at the James Weldon Johnson Park, formerly Hemming Park.

In addition, what started as about 1,100 square feet of workspace ― requiring some projects to be created on campus sidewalks ― has grown to about 15,000 square feet in the UNF Annex and includes a woodworking shop; two classrooms; and a metal lab, where students work with fabrication and gain experience casting metals such as aluminum, bronze, iron and stainless.

With sculptures out in community for all to see, the program has gained visibility for the University and provided students with the experience of creating art and sharing it with a public audience, something Hager said is not available for undergraduates at other universities.

Student installing Sculpture“It definitely puts us in a different category,” she said. “This is unique to UNF. Our students do very well when they graduate, and I think a lot of it is because of this public art experience they have.” Some graduates go on to master’s programs, often with full scholarship offers from several schools, Hager said. Others have taken positions as exhibition preparators, building and installing exhibits at MOSH, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, MOCA and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Many others have joined the workforce of local schools to teach art in K-12. And some have successfully opened their own studios.

The community presence has also brought another change. Hager said she has had more requests than ever before from prospective students wanting to tour the sculpture facilities. “That tells me that people are taking notice of what we’re doing, so I’m excited about that,” she said.

Preparing for an art auction
To make way for the five new sculptures that were placed in the Seaside Sculpture Park in Jacksonville Beach, five existing pieces had to be removed. The next step is to place the pieces up for auction. The revenue from the sale will support the UNF program and help create what Hager is calling a FAB Lab or maker space that will combine technology with art. With a new computer-numerically controlled torch, users would be able to add a drawing to the software and a machine would then cut the image from metal.

Hager said the auction money will help purchase the tools for a maker space that someday could be used by the entire University as well as architects, engineers and artists from the community. At the last sale, five of seven pieces sold, some to private residences and others for future sculpture parks. 


Here are the details for this year’s auction:
Location: Online at
Dates: May 17 through June 17
Minimum bid: $1,200 each

To learn more about the pieces up for auction, the website will go live on May 17.  

Around Campus

A Conversation with the Provost

Karen Patterson and Ozzie in UNF Arena, taken prior to pandemic

Even over Zoom, Dr. Karen Patterson’s calm disposition is easy to spot. So is her willingness to chat and honestly share her feelings. She doesn’t hold back and is quick to laugh at herself and some of the life situations that have tested her along the way. With 22 years of experience at UNF, Patterson is now focused on her new position as provost and vice president of academic and student affairs, after serving in an interim role since September 2020. But she’s brought along all her life lessons in order to navigate this new challenge. Here are a few insights gathered from a conversation with the provost.

How a family experience can shape the future
Patterson feels it’s a privilege to be at UNF. Yet, her path here was not a traditional one. Growing up in Jamaica, as the eldest of two daughters, she stepped up at an early age to help her mother run the household, while her father traveled to work on a farm in Massachusetts. He often would be gone for six months at a time. The owner of the farm then sponsored her to come to America to go to college, but after one semester she had to go it alone, getting scholarships, loans and working to complete her undergraduate degree at Kent State University. Those undergrad memories of faculty and staff support have stuck with her and made her sensitive to the needs of UNF students and the impact of mentorship at all levels, especially from faculty.

“I didn’t come from a family that had money,” Patterson said. “I am the first in my family to have had this opportunity to attend college, so I needed to make something of myself in order to help my family. So that kind of pushes you.” For Patterson that meant getting a teaching job and earning a master’s and doctorate while working in special education in the Cleveland public schools. Her choice of major was influenced by a childhood experience of seeing a child with physical disability being bullied, which led her to connect with special education training in college.

Approaching the job with a sincere disposition
Patterson believes in sincerity above all. “My mother used to say, ‘When you tell the truth, you don’t need a long memory, and you will always be consistent.’ So that’s still the way I try to approach things,” she said. In each role she maintains a genuine desire to serve with openness and integrity. In the role of provost, she believes it is even more important to be trustworthy.

To Patterson, there are many leaders at UNF and she is most fortunate to work with some of the very best. “I’m not pretending I always know what to do when faced with a difficult decision,” she said. “But I pay attention, and I work diligently to achieve the most successful outcomes … I am part of a great team ― we are connected, and we are all focused in the same direction. Leadership is just easier when you are working with a team who value the same things you do.”

Every day is unique
Ask Patterson to describe an average day, and she laughs. The days are all different, though most are filled with meetings. They also are long, often extending into the evening. The reach of the provost role is broad, touching all aspects of campus life. Patterson meets with the president, VPs, her executive team, deans, student government, the Council of Deans, students, and parents, among others. Meetings cover a range of topics including student concerns, budget, policies and procedures, accreditation and program reviews. She meets with Student Government and also attends the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors meetings. She is also doing what she calls “Conversations with the Provost,” so she can meet with academic units. “So in this role, I don’t want to start with any assumptions,” Patterson said. “Forget what you think I know, and tell me what I need to know and how I need to help. We are facing real and unique challenges in higher education and it is critical for all of us to rethink the many assumptions that we have and adapt to new realities.”

The most enjoyable part of the job
The new provost is happiest when she can get to "yes" and support the campus to get what it needs most. Rather than starting with "no," she approaches each situation with "why not?" “Let’s figure out how we can have the most successful outcomes,” Patterson said. “If things don’t work according to plan, at least we’ve explored the possibilities. The job becomes difficult, however, when decisions are about resources that could have a significant impact on students while making meaningful differences to faculty and staff, but you can’t do it because of limited resources and competing priorities.”

Time to relax
When time allows, Patterson said she relaxes by reading or watching British comedies and movies. Before the pandemic, she would be at the gym most mornings at 4:30 to exercise. With COVID, she decided instead to buy a treadmill. “But I’m not getting up at 4 o’clock to be on that treadmill,” she said, laughing. “So, now I do it whenever I feel guilty. Just being honest with you.” 

*photo taken prior to pandemic

Around Campus

Volunteers Set Up Homes to Attract Oysters

two UNF students carrying crab trap used for oyster restoration project

Dr. Kelly Smith and more than a dozen students arrived at Amelia River in Fernandina Beach early on a Saturday morning. Working in boots in the water at low tide, they were hauling crab traps filled with oyster shells and placing them in just the right location to create a new and inviting home for area oysters. In essence, these volunteers were helping Mother Nature.

If all goes as planned, they expect the oysters to attach themselves to the submerged traps and fuse together to create an imitation of a natural oyster reef. Referred to as a living shoreline, this new habitat is expected to grow and strengthen over time to help stabilize the coastline and reduce erosion.

Smith, an associate professor of biology at UNF, was there to offer her expertise, something she’s happy to do as a community volunteer in order to assist area organizations working to improve coastal resilience. At this river location, she was advising the St. Mary’s Riverkeeper organization, which was coordinating the project. Smith’s students from UNF’s Coastal and Marine Biology program worked with other Riverkeeper volunteers to place about 50 crab traps and in return gained valuable field experience.

Locating the oyster homes is not only muddy, but can be somewhat complicated. “You’ve got to put the structures at the right elevation, otherwise they get flooded too much or they don’t get flooded, so working at low tide allowed us to pick the best location,” Smith said. “Then what happens is we kind of hope, ‘If we build it, they will come.’”

Oysters, it seems, like to attach to hard surfaces. If they decide to move in, the reef they build also will create habitats for fish to hide in and feed. In addition, oysters are able to remove algae from the water, helping to reduce algal blooms and produce cleaner water for wildlife, fishing and recreation.

UNF students walking with crab trap for oyster restoration effortWith the new homes in place, some of the students will continue with the project as a research study. After Smith provides training in field monitoring techniques, the students will follow the progress of the living shoreline to answer a number of questions: How many baby oysters were able to attach and survive over time? Has the structure lessened erosion as compared with regions that were not restored? The research seeks information that will be vital in preserving reefs in the future.

In addition to the benefit students gain from helping with community projects, Smith believes the research study will combine important learning experiences with the exposure that will help them to land a job. During her 20-plus years of teaching at UNF, Smith said she has seen students struggle to find jobs.

“Grades are one thing, and that’s important, but a lot of organizations want to know that someone’s actually been tested in the field and can do the work,” Smith said. “One of my major goals for all my projects is providing on-the-ground training so the students can be job ready.”

Around Campus

STARS Awards Ceremony Concludes 2021 Research Week

Stars 2021The STARS award ceremony presented this year’s research winners with a bit of Hollywood and as much hoopla as possible for a virtual format ― a twinkling starry backdrop accompanied by award-style music and ceremonial announcements.

STARS, an acronym for Scholars Transforming Academic Research Symposium, highlights the work of faculty and staff across all disciplines within the University community. This year’s STARS was the 12th annual symposium, held April 6-9. It included sessions on finding grants, news from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, a Faculty Poster Competition and live discussions with poster presenters. Dr. John Kantner, interim associate provost and associate vice president for research, and Dr. Cheresa Y. Boston, director of sponsored research, led the award presentation.

Kantner credited Boston with the inspiration for the event and for finding a way to capture some of the atmosphere of previous in-person ceremonies. “We were concerned that just reading out awards would be really boring in a Zoom format, so we wanted to break it up with some short video segments,” Kantner said. “But really, the planning was all Cheresa’s doing.”


For Boston, finding the best way to recognize researchers was important. "UNF researchers are true STARS, so we wanted to showcase a lively, engaging, attention-grabbing, memorable Oscar presentation using a virtual platform," Boston said. "It feels great to be able to recognize the hard work and contributions of those individuals who help to propel research forward at UNF."

To begin the online event, Kantner shared graphs with research data that showed UNF’s steady increase in its R&D expenditures as well as its own research funding and rankings as compared with peer universities. “In the past several years, we’ve actually leapfrogged over 100 other universities in our rankings,” Kantner said. “And this is pretty pleasing to see. This is us compared with our aspirants, and we’re now tracking right alongside our aspirants. It’s very exciting.”

Kantner also presented information on faculty publications and the number of citations that they receive. “This is particularly interesting to me, because you can see that our articles are being cited much more significantly, much more impactfully than we see at our peers, and even more impressively, we’re actually even better than our aspirants,” Kantner said. “So this is all kudos to you.”

Boston then announced all categories and each of the winners:


High-Impact Research Article Award: Recognizes faculty who were authors within the past five years of a high-impact research article, as measured by total Web of Science citations. One award is given for each professional college, and in the College of Arts and Sciences, one each is given for the arts and humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

  • Inter-College Collaboration: Erin Largo-Wight (Public Health), Caroline Guardino (Exceptional, Deaf, and Interpreter Education), Katrina W. Hall (Teaching, Learning & Curriculum), and Julie W. Merten (Public Health)
  • Brooks College of Health: Mei Zhao (Health Administration)
  • Coggin College of Business: Nathan Kunz (Management)
  • College of Arts and Sciences:  Humanities: Bart H. Welling (English); Social Sciences: Curtis E. Phills (Psychology); Natural Sciences: Daniel F. Santavicca (Physics)
  • College of Computing, Engineering, and Construction: William F. Klostermeyer (Computing)
  • College of Education and Human Services: Matthew A. Ohlson (Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management)

Best Scholarly Monograph Award: Recognizes the best scholarly monograph published by a faculty member within the previous three years. The recipient is selected by a review committee.
Barry Albright (Physics)

Best Creative Work Award: Recognizes the best creative work publicly displayed or shared by a faculty member within the previous three years. The recipient is selected by a review committee.
Carolyne Ali-Khan (Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum)

Department with the highest number of principal investigators involved in research:
School of Engineering (marks the department’s 8th win)

Department with the most funding in sponsored projects: Florida Institute of Education ($4,803,466)

Faculty awarded patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Nirmalkumar Patel, Don Resio, Steven Stagon

Principal investigator with 5 years of continuous funding: Wanda Lastrapes, Otilia Salmon, Kelly Smith

Principal investigators who obtained research funding of $250,000 or more in one fiscal year: Michael Binder, Brian Knuckley, Wanda Lastrapes, Paul Parkison, Don Resio, Otilia Salmon, Frank Smith, Christian Winterbottom

Platinum Stars: O. Patrick Kreidl


Millionaire Stars: Janice Williams Donaldson, Cheryl Ann Fountain


STARS poster winners:

  • Junior Tenure-Track Faculty: Dr. Gregory Kohn
  • Tenured faculty: Dr. Curtis Phills
  • Student Choice Award: Dr. Michelle DeDeo 

Learn more about the winners and their research on the STARS website

Faculty Forum

Meet Dr. Gordon Rakita

Dr. Gordon Rakita headshot

Dr. Gordon Rakita, a professor of anthropology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, also serves as the interim associate vice president for faculty development. In 2020, he was honored as UNF’s Distinguished Professor. Rakita teaches a variety of courses in the program. One of his favorites is his Anthropology of Death course, which explores the variety of ways humans around the globe and throughout time have dealt with the inevitable loss of biological life. He also teaches the quantitative methods class, archaeology and physical anthropology courses.

Rakita is a bioarchaeologist, which is someone who studies human remains and their funerary treatment from archaeological sites. In his research, he has been exploring how mortuary practices changed over time among humans living in northern Mexico and the U.S. Southwest between roughly 800 and 1500 CE. He believes there’s a lot we can learn about people, their culture and society by looking at how they treat their dead.

What brought you to UNF? I came to UNF as an assistant professor in 2003. At the time, I was working for an environmental and culture resource consulting firm in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was looking for an opportunity to work at a university, and UNF offered me a wonderful position.

What’s one thing in your field of study that people might not know? Most people don’t know how much variation there is in the human skeleton. Bones are living tissues and respond in specific ways to things that happen throughout our lives. Bioarchaeologists can analyze skeletons to tell all sorts of things about people including their diet, what sorts of activities they engaged in, if they migrated from other areas, how related they are to other groups of people, and how healthy they were. We also examine mortuary practices, which can tell us about people's religious beliefs and ritual practices. There is so much we can learn from human burials, and that’s why we sometimes say there’s more information in a square inch of a human burial than in any other part of an archaeological site.

Do you have a favorite spot on campus? Well, I think many people enjoy the bamboo grove, and I do too. I also like spending time in the faculty lounge in Building 16. But I love spending time in my lab in Building 51 working with students on projects. I think my students will tell you I’m most animated in front of a dry marker board.

What’s the most rewarding academic experience you’ve had at UNF in or out of the classroom? I’ve had many rewarding academic experiences at UNF. I’ve helped organize study abroad trips, community-engaged courses and over 40 directed independent studies. I was one of the first faculty to receive a transformational learning opportunity grant, and I’ve chaired or been a member of nine undergraduate honors theses or capstone projects. I was even part of a group that went to Tallahassee last year where our UNF students presented their research to legislators. But the most rewarding experience is being in the lab or classroom with a group of students and seeing the light bulb turn on for them on some difficult topic. When it clicks for them and then we jump to a whole new level of conversation, it’s just so amazing and rewarding.

If you weren’t teaching, what else would you be doing? I have research projects and ideas that will keep me busy for decades. If I weren’t teaching, I would be working on those. But I would miss teaching and sharing the things that I am learning with students.

What do you like most about UNF? UNF is a great place to be because our faculty are not only incredible teachers, but they also do such fascinating research and creative endeavors. It’s a wonderful academic family to be part of. I have also had the chance to work within the Administration and Finance division, which gave me a window into all the amazing (and often unsung) staff who work behind the scenes to make sure students and faculty have what we need to explore, study, teach and learn.

Describe your teaching style. I am pretty demanding and have high expectations for my students, and they know it. I push them to really stretch to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding. I find that if I set the bar high, they really reach intellectually and make significant gains. I also try to use humor to ease stress and make class times engaging.

Who has been the biggest role model in your life?
On a professional level, my undergraduate and graduate mentors are my biggest role models. As an undergraduate, I worked with Mary K. Sandford at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. UNCG is a place very much like UNF, and I was Sandford’s TA for her Physical Anthropology course and worked in her lab. I learned human osteology from her and got my first opportunities to teach with her. As a graduate student, I worked with Jane Buikstra (then at the University of New Mexico). Buikstra originally coined the term “bioarchaeology” and she defined the field. I learned a great deal just being her research assistant and watching how she conducted her scholarship. These two role models had a transformational impact on me and my career, and I try to do the same for my students.

What advice would you give a student who is about to graduate? First, congratulations on completing your degree. This accomplishment represents a tremendous amount of hard work and perseverance on your part. Take some time to celebrate what you have done. Second, never exaggerate what you know or what you can do. Don’t be afraid to say: “I don’t know how to do that … but I’m ready to work hard to learn.” Having your degree shows that you have learned how to learn. That’s important. Finally, recognize that your first job is just the first step on a road toward your career aspirations. It might not be your ideal job; that’s OK. Work hard, keep learning, build your skills and experience. Keep your eye on the life you would like to have in the future, and keep working toward it.

If you could witness any historical event, what would it be?
Since bioarchaeologists are always dealing with incomplete reconstructions of prehistoric funerals, I would love to go back and witness any of the thousands of burials that I have studied. To be able to actually see what happened 800 years or so ago and how the bereaved prepared and treated their dead would be amazing.

What is your favorite memory from your undergraduate days? Well, my wife and I met as undergraduates, so definitely meeting and dating her are my favorite memories. But working in the human osteology lab was a transformational experience for me. Sorting, cataloging and analyzing the skeletons was a blast and really served me well. I also studied with fellow students for our osteology exams, which were crazy-difficult. We would be presented with a bone fragment and given a minute to identify it. Then the timer would chime, and you moved to the next fragment. Terrifying! But it focused our minds and really drove us to be our best.

Who is your favorite fictional character? Two of my favorite fictional characters are Nick and Nora Charles from the old black and white Thin Man movie series (the characters are originally from a Dashiell Hammett story). Nick and Nora are played in the movies by William Powell and Myrna Loy, and their on-screen chemistry and repartee is hilarious.

Where is the best place you’ve visited? Hands down … the Land of Enchantment … New Mexico! We lived there for seven years and both our sons were born there. It's a truly magical landscape with wonderful people, culture and food. We have delightful memories from our time there and good friends still live there. We like to visit as often as possible.

How do you recharge? My wife and I have a habit. When we each get home from work, we take our cat FedEx for a walk in our back yard. He chases lizards while we talk about our days and decompress.

What do you like most about Jacksonville? Where else have you lived?
I’ve lived in a lot of places including North Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico, Arizona and even Moscow and Hong Kong. What’s nice about living in Jacksonville are those times of the year when our weather is perfect. It can be so balmy and not yet too hot in April and May. So, while folks up north are desperate for relief from the winter, we’re having gorgeous weather.

Around Campus

Get to Know Michelle McGriff

Michelle McGriff headshot

Michelle McGriff joined UNF in August 2020 as director of Alumni Engagement. She is responsible for the supervision of all initiatives, programs, services and personnel of the Alumni Engagement office within the University Development and Alumni Engagement Division.

What do you enjoy about working here? I enjoy the collaboration with my department and other departments within the University. It helps to better advance the University.

How long have you lived in Jacksonville? Where else have you lived? I have lived in Jacksonville for 23 years, but grew up in Northeast Florida.

What one memory do you most treasure? Spending Thanksgiving at the home of my maternal grandparents. Up until my grandmother’s passing, all my aunts, uncles, cousins and as many extended family members who wanted to drop in would enjoy food and fellowship together. We would be in the dining room, kitchen, den, living room, screened-in porch and picnic table in the front yard. There was always enough room and food for everybody.

If you could have a dinner party and invite any four people, from the past or present, who would be on your guest list? I would choose two who are no longer with me and two who are still present. My maternal grandmother, my son, my mother and Michelle Obama. My grandmother taught me so many things, such as how to be a woman of faith, class and integrity. I would want a little more time to glean from her. My son, among many things, taught me how to persevere through sickness, and it helped to increase my compassion for others. I would want to spend more time loving on him. My mother is my strongest supporter and biggest critic. She balances me, and when I confer with her about something, her insight brings me back to this thought: “Michelle, don’t believe your own press.” My mother has the sweetest, yet most direct way of always getting me together. I can never spend enough time with her. Sorry Dad. I would invite Michelle Obama because she is such an influential person, and I would just be happy she would make time to break bread with me and my favs!

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be? I would like to write shows for television. Telling amazing stories and entertaining people. Stories that people can relate to and that bring them together.

What superpower would you like to have? How would you use it? The superpower I would like to have is enhanced senses or supreme “Spidey Senses.” It would keep me from all dangers, seen and unseen.

If you ruled the world, what would you change on Day 1? I would grant ease of access to resources essential to living, such as food, clean water and safe housing. The most basic needs being addressed shouldn’t be a privilege; they are a human right.

What would be the title for the movie version of your life? The title for the movie version of my life would be “Being.” Why? The nature and essence of me, the woman that so many of my friends, loved ones and peers have come to appreciate and maybe admire, developed because of many “unpleasant” things that were out of my control. My being, the soul of who I am, was brought out by life. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? To say I at least stepped foot on all seven continents.

What one food do you wish had zero calories? Chocolate Cake

Tell us something that might surprise us about you. I’m an introvert. Growing up I was a loner and spent a lot of time in a quiet space reading. I still read and journal a lot. It surprises most people because my career has been in outward facing roles, and I am very engaging in public. However, I must spend time alone to recharge before engaging again. I have taken the Myers Briggs many times, and I am always INTJ with very clear clarity of my preferences.

Where would you like to go on a dream vacation? Egypt, because it is one of the oldest civilizations on earth full of archeological wonders and stunning deserts. A trip to Egypt would be such an exciting history lesson.

Tell us a few of your favorite things.
Board game
: Scattergories
Book: “You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down” by Alice Walker
Color: Chocolate Brown
Quote: “Excuses are tools of the incompetent. Used to build monuments of nothingness. Those who choose to use them seldom accomplish anything.”
Season: Fall

Around Campus

UNF Announces Fall 2020 Presidential Excellence Awards

President Szymanski speaking at a podium

Here are the Fall 2020 Presidential Excellence Award recipients. All winners will be recognized at the Presidential Awards Ceremony Luncheon during the 2021 Professional Development Forum.

Presidential Excellence Award - Administrative and Professional
First Place: Corey Ulloa, Residence Life Coordinator, Housing and Residence Life
Second Place: Amanda Kulp, Director of Assessment, Academic Affairs

Presidential Excellence Award - USPS/Out-of-Unit Faculty
First Place: Jessica Russell, Office Manager, Economics and Geography
Second Place: Elizabeth Hardy, UNF Online Admissions Coordinator, UNF Online

Presidential Quality Customer Service Award
Winner: Office of Academic Support and Information Services

Presidential SPOT Award Winners:
Justin Begle
, Assistant Director, User Services, ITS
Fred J.R. Chambers, IT Network Engineer, Telephone Services
Nathaniel Farley, Senior Telecomm Tech, Telephone Services
Brooke Hammond, Coordinator, Career Development Services
Kishia Hill, Persistence Specialist, Student Academic Success Services
Kalilah Jamall, Student Affairs Specialist, DDI/Interfaith Center
Samantha Lento, Coordinator, Housing and Residence Life
Jason Lewis, Network Analyst, Systems Engineering
Sheila Lopez, Assistant Director Custodial Services, Physical Facilities
Keith Lynn, Life Safety Supervisor, Physical Facilities
Clay Maddox, Associate Director Net Telecomm, Systems Engineering
James McKoy, Irrigation Supervisor, Physical Facilities
Jessica Murray, Associate Director, Continuing Education
Doreen Perez, Instructor, Nursing
Andrew Rush, Course Media Developer, CIRT
Katie Sarria, Assistant Director, Undergraduate Studies
Colleen Sharp, Assistant Director, Fine Arts Center
Samantha Shaw, Online Learning Assistant, CIRT
Carolyn Stewart, Office Assistant, DDI/Interfaith Center
Danyelle Stokes, Student Affairs Specialist ICP, DDI/Intercultural Center for Peace
Ambrey Wilson, Academic Advisor, First Year Advising


To view the full list which includes nominees, visit the webpage

Around Campus

Faculty Association Awards for 2020-21

Congratulations to all the Faculty Association Award winners announced in April, who will be recognized at the 2021 Fall Convocation.

Distinguished Professor Award Finalists
Lynne Arriale
, College of Arts and Sciences
Mei Zhao, Brooks College of Health

Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award
Elizabeth Stotz-Potter
, College of Arts and Sciences
Rob Haley, Brooks College of Health
Quincy Gibson, College of Arts and Sciences
Wanyong Choi, College of Education and Human Services
Charles Closmann, College of Arts and Sciences
James Beasley, College of Arts and Sciences
Grant Bevill, College of Computing, Engineering and Construction
Erin Bodnar, College of Arts and Sciences
Grace Bosse, College of Arts and Sciences
Keith Ashley, College of Arts and Sciences

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award
Denise Bossy
, College of Arts and Sciences
Cynthia White-Williams, Brooks College of Health

Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award
Jenny Stuber
, College of Arts and Sciences
Josh Gellers, College of Arts and Sciences
Laura Heffernan, College of Arts and Sciences

Outstanding Faculty Service Award
Caroline Guardino
, College of Education and Human Services
Katherine Hooper, College of Arts and Sciences

Outstanding Community-Engaged Scholarship Award
Claudia Sealey-Potts
, Brooks College of Health

Outstanding Adjunct Teaching Award
Jelena Brezjanovic-Shogren
, College of Arts and Sciences
Brittany Fouche, College of Arts and Sciences
Randi Mitchell, College of Education and Human Services
Deana Barone, College of Arts and Sciences

Around Campus

Lee Moon Announces Retirement

Lee Moon headshot

After 12 years at the University of North Florida and 55 years in college athletics, UNF Athletics Director Lee Moon announced his plans to retire on June 30.

His impact on North Florida sports has been significant. UNF’s sixth athletic director, Moon joined UNF only four years after its entry into Division I athletics and just as the school became eligible for postseason competition. He guided the Ospreys through the transition, developing a highly competitive DI Athletics program. Here are just a few noteworthy achievements of UNF Athletics during Moon’s tenure as AD:

  • 46 regular season and tournament championships
  • 81 NCAA postseason appearances in team and individual competitions
  • Eight of the last 10 titles in the River City Rumble with crosstown ASUN competitor JU, capped by a victory margin of 25-5 over the past two seasons
  • Four years as ASUN Men’s All-Sport Champion and among top three nine times
  • Top three finish in Women’s All-Sport Championship three times

Moon also created a culture of academic excellence seeing that same success from student-athletes in the classroom. During his time at UNF:

  • UNF Athletics has maintained a cumulative department GPA of 3.0 or higher for 19 consecutive semesters
  • All 19 varsity teams have boasted cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher in eight of the last nine semesters
  • UNF produced 182 ASUN All-Academic Selections highlighted by 20 ASUN Scholar Athletes of the Year

“For the past 12 years, Coach Lee Moon has served the University with great distinction, integrity and devotion to our student-athletes, coaches and athletic programming," said UNF President David Szymanski, sharing that Moon’s culture of athletic and academic excellence has led to remarkable growth and success of UNF Athletics. “His legacy will leave a long-lasting impact on our Osprey community.”

Earlier this year, Moon was named an Athletic Director of the Year (ADOY) for the Division I-AAA level by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).

Learn more about Lee Moon’s accomplishments.

Around Campus

UNF Poets Accept the Haiku Challenge

Haiku with cherry blossoms behind themIf you believe you can paint a vivid picture using words with a total of only 17 syllables, then Haiku is for you. This short form of unrhymed Japanese poetry requires the writer to follow the rule of 5/7/5: five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. It may be the ultimate test of finding only a few select words, and syllables, that leave the reader with a strong impression or feeling.

This April, 75 faculty, staff and students accepted the challenge by submitting their Haiku poems to the second annual Haiku Contest hosted by the Thomas G. Carpenter Library. A panel of judges comprising library faculty and staff and special guests reviewed anonymous entries in order to select the winners, which were announced April 17, International Haiku Poetry Day.

Student Outreach Librarian Maria Atilano started the contest in 2020 when the library was closed due to the pandemic and all the planned in-person activities were put on hold. “I had been wanting to do some type of literary contest for a while, and our switch to online events and activities was the perfect excuse to try something new and creative for the UNF community” Atilano said. “A poetry contest was especially of interest to me because I graduated from UNF with my master’s in English.”

With a successful 2020 contest, the outreach team created a second contest in October focused on Halloween ― the Two-sentence Horror Story Contest. According to Atilano, plans are now underway for a Summer literary contest. Stay tuned!

This year’s winners:
First Place:
Cadrian Kennedy, undergraduate student, behavioral neuroscience
Black has been defined
By some random guy with pride
Why can’t black decide

Second Place:
Bryce Abell, undergraduate student, English
Open a bag of chips
Librarian glares at me
Mask stays on, hungry

Third Place:
Gabriella Senior, graduate student, exercise science and chronic disease
I try to walk fast
Pero el mundo corre (But the world is running)
Estoy cansada (I’m tired)

Read the runner-up entries and all Haiku submissions online.

Around Campus

Inside News Roundup

Dr. Dominik Güss with model

UNF researchers study the creative process
UNF researchers Dr. Dominik Güss, presidential professor for the Department of Psychology and UNF Distinguished Professor 2016, and Sarah Ahmed, psychology graduate student, along with Dietrich Dörner, professor emeritus at the University of Bamberg in Germany, have recently published their study titled, “From da Vinci’s Flying Machines to a Theory of the Creative Process” in Perspectives in Psychological Science, a journal by the Association for Psychological Science. Read more about the research.

UNF to offer new MSBA degree program beginning Fall 2021
The University of North Florida’s Coggin College of Business is unveiling a new Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program in Fall 2021. The MSBA curriculum will reflect industry demands for graduate business analytics education and is supported and championed by local and regional partner employers. Industries today rely on business leaders with strong technical and analytical skills who can make the best decisions based on a combination of business and data science. Read more about the new program.

New Developments and Initiatives for UNF MedNexus
In April, the University of North Florida (UNF), the City of Palm Coast and other MedNexus partners announced new developments and initiatives for UNF MedNexus in Palm Coast including the expansion of educational and developmental programs and scholarship funding to produce high-quality, trained nurses and medical professionals. Read more about the developments in UNF MedNexus.

Water view on campusUNF researchers find experiences with flooding affect climate change attitudes among Florida voters
Three University of North Florida faculty researchers recently completed an interdisciplinary project to study public opinion on climate change and assess the impact of personal experiences on political behavior and attitudes. This research was funded by the UNF Environmental Center’s Seed Grant program. Read more about the research.

UNF and DCPS receive VOYA Foundation grant for STEM educator training
The University of North Florida’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education and Human Services recently received a VOYA Foundation grant for their Quantum Physics Secondary Professional Development project, a collaboration with Duval County Public Schools. The project’s focus is to deliver high-quality professional development opportunities in quantum concepts for high-school teachers, with the ultimate goal to expand science pathways for DCPS students, thereby diversifying the STEM workforce in Northeast Florida and beyond. Read more about the project.

High national ranking for business major
The International Business undergraduate major at the Coggin College of Business was ranked No. 15 in the nation by on its "Best International Business Bachelor's Degrees." In describing UNF's program, wrote: "This program is a great choice for students who are looking to graduate with some solid experience already on their resume." Coggin's program outranked many top national universities on the list. Read the full listing of rankings.

Faculty and Staff

UNF's Osprey Fountain

Brooks College of Health

Nutrition and Dietetics

Dr. Lauri Wright, associate professor and chair, Dr. Jen Ross, assistant professor, and student Alexis Harp were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the field, winning three of six total awards presented in this year’s annual Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics award ceremony. 


  • Wright received the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award recognizing commitment to excellence made by an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to the profession. 
  • Ross received the Emerging Dietetic Leader Award recognizing the competence and activities of dietitians regardless of their age, who have made distinctive contributions early in their dietetics careers to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 
  • Harp received the Outstanding Dietetics Student Award to recognize the emerging leadership and achievement of students in ACEND-accredited dietetics education programs and encourage their participation in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Coggin College of Business

Dr. Mark Dawkins, accounting professor and Distinguished Professor for Excellence, has been named the President-Elect of the American Accounting Association’s Board of Directors and is the first African American to hold this position. Read more about the honor

Diane Denslow
, associate instructor of management, through a gift to Coggin from Swisher International, was able to develop and facilitate Swisher Startup for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs, a new program to teach individuals how to start and grow businesses. With the assistance of Gregory Grant, business analyst at the Florida Small Business Development Center, the eight-week cohort was completed in April after which a Pitch Competition was held.

College of Arts and Sciences
Art, Art History and Design
Sheila Goloborotko
, assistant professor of printmaking, received the College of Arts and Sciences 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Award.

Dr. Candice Tahimic, assistant professor, discussed her research on the effects of space flight on human health as part of the Science on Tap seminar series.

Dr. Stuart Chalk, professor, the final COAS Scholars Lecture of the year, “All’s FAIR in Love and War: What about Research Data?”

Criminology and Criminal Justice
Dr. Michael Hallett
, professor, discussed charter prisons in the Florida Times-Union

Dr. Jennifer Wesely, professor, discussed her book, Being Female: The Continuum of Sexualization, on Overdrive Radio

Dr. James Beasley, associate professor of English, published "Resisting Community with Kenneth Burke and Richard McKeon: Rhetoric and Poetic and Their 1970 Debate" in KB Journal: The Journal of the Kenneth Burke Society, March.

Dr. Chris Gabbard
, professor of English, published “Robinson Crusoe and Peter the Wild Boy: What Daniel Defoe Inadvertently Tells Us about Disability” in “Defining the Boundaries of Disability: Critical Perspectives,” March.

Dr. Tru Leverette, associate professor and director of Africana Studies, is the recipient of the 2021 Presidential Diversity and Inclusion Award. In her service, Leverette dedicates many efforts toward fostering diversity and inclusion, broadly construed. Read more about the award

Dr. Nicholas de Villiers, professor of English and Film, presented “Sleepy Cinema, Queer Phenomenology, & Tsai Ming-liang’s No No Sleep” at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, March.

Dr. Denise Bossy, associate professor, will co-host an 8-week virtual “coffeehouse” discussion on “Mobility, Emplacement, and Homelands” for the Omohundro Institute at William and Mary, the leading center for the study of early America. 

Dr. Chau Johnsen Kelly
, associate professor of History, gave a talk “The White Man's Madness, A Story about Flies: Sleeping Sickness Control and Village Concentration, 1934-1945,” Florida Conference of Historians, Feb. 19.

Mathematics and Statistics
Dr. Beyza Aslan
, associate professor of mathematics, published “Application of Support Vector Machines to Diagnosis of Late-Onset Glutaric Acidemia Type 2,” in Electronic Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications.

Dr. Denis Bell, professor of mathematics, published an article “Limit theorems for singular Skorohod integrals” by Denis Bell, Raul Bolanos, and David Nualart in the Journal of Theoretical Probability and Mathematical Statistics, March.

Dr. Randy Tinnin
, professor of trumpet, published his article, “The Case for Natural Trumpet: A Sabbatical with Jean-François Madeuf” in the March edition of the International Trumpet Guild Journal.

Dr. Joshua Tomlinson, instructor and area coordinator of Music Technology and Production, and choreographer Rebecca Levy's collaboration “Ringlets,” an electronic music composition for dance, premiered February at Florida State College Jacksonville. Tomlinson’s composition “Ringlets” composition has also been accepted for virtual performance UVA as part of the Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) 2021 conference.

Dr. Jason T. Haraldsen, associate professor of physics, published “Understanding the onset of negative electronic compressibility in single-band and two-band two-dimensional electron gases: Application to LaAlO3/SrTiO3” in Physical Review B with undergraduate student Aditi Mahabir, March. Also, Haraldsen and eight undergraduate students (Abigail Coker, Aditi Mahabir, Alexandria Alcantara, Peter Dyszel, Evan Wilson, Amelia Brumfield, Jose Pagan Munoz, and John Dimuna) presented talks at the American Physical Society’s Annual March Meeting, March. In addition, UNF’s Materials Theory Lab, led by Haraldsen, has been awarded $195,000 by the Institute for Materials Science at Los Alamos National Laboratory to support undergraduate research. Read more about the funding

Dr. William B. Lane, visiting instructor of physics, along with Dr. Terrie Galanti, Dr. Brian Zoellner, Dr. Daniel Dinsmore, Dr. Lev Gasparov, and Dr. Wanda Lastrapes, were awarded a $24,000 grant by the VOYA foundation for “UNF/DCPS Quantum Physics Secondary Professional Development.”

Dr. Devki N. Talwar, visiting instructor of physics, has published a peer reviewed research paper: "Temperature‐Dependent Optical Properties of Graphene on Si and SiO2/Si Substrates" in the journal Crystals, 2021, 11, 358. 

Political Science and Public Administration
Dr. Mike Binder
, associate professor, won two grants, totaling more than $100,000, from the U.S. Department of Transportation to study impaired driving awareness and motorcycle awareness. In addition, Binder spoke about voting law changes with First Coast News

Dr. Joshua C. Gellers, associate professor of political science, delivered a presentation titled “Rights-Based Approaches to Environmental Protection: Implementation, Translations, and Future Research,” at the IGU Biennial Symposium at Monmouth University. Gellers led a conversation on “Beyond Speciesism: On Rights for Robots” for the group Beyond Return. Gellers also co-presented a talk on “The Sustainable Development Goals and Jacksonville” along with USF student Thea Baker at the North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce in March. In addition, Gellers discussed resiliency to climate change in ADAPT Florida and chemical orders in the Murray Hill community on WJCT

Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar and director of UNF's Public Service Leadership Program, had an op-ed written by her students in Real World Policy Class published in the Florida Times-Union. 

Dr. Pamela A. Zeiser, associate professor of political science, presented a paper "COVID-19 at the Nexus of Social Media and Propaganda: Public Health Messaging Amidst Political Propaganda" at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, April. Zeiser also presented a talk on “Global Studies Research: Writing Interdisciplinary Case Studies,” via Zoom in April at Australian Catholic University in Australia, which is using Zeiser’s book “Global Studies Research” in their classes.

Dr. Tracy Alloway, professor, spoke to First Coast News about the psychology behind why people are resistant to wearing masks. Alloway also discussed the anxiety some are experiencing over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with First Coast News

Dr. Angela Mann
, associate professor, was recognized for exemplary service and leadership to the profession of school psychology by the Florida Association of School Psychologists.

Dr. Lindsay Mahovetz, with UNF master’s graduate Fatima Ramis, presented “Promoting Wellness in a Zoological Institution: Challenges and Breakthroughs.” They discussed how zoos produce and use the latest research to promote animal wellness.

Rebecca Marcon, Emeritus, was chosen as the Humanitarian of the Year by the southeastern region of the Head Start Association.

Dr. Lifan Yu, visiting assistant professor in the Psychology Department, participated in the discussion for the Paper Session titled, “Teacher Well-Being” at the 2021 American Education Research Association (AERA) Virtual Annual Meeting, March.

Sociology/Anthropology and Social Work
Dr. Jenny Stuber
, associate professor of sociology, published the book “Aspen and the American Dream: How One Town Manages Inequality in the Era of Supergentrification” with the University of California Press.

College of Education and Human Services

Dr. Rebecca Burns published the book “(Re)Designing Programs: A Vision for Equity-Centered, Clinically Based Teacher Preparation.”

Dr. Paul Parkison, professor and chair of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum, published his book “Unraveling the Assessment Industrial Complex: Understanding how testing perpetuates inequity and injustice in America.”

Dr. Debbie Reed, associate instructor in Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreter Education, received the On Campus Transition’s 2021 Advocate of the Year award in recognition of her advocacy for the students, community and OCT program.

Dr. Tara Rowe, director of the Thrive program, with disability services student Miranda Scott, presented “Experiences of a deaf student in postsecondary education" at the 2021 Florida Division on Career Development and Transition's virtual conference. Watch the presentation online

Dr. Nile Stanley, associate professor in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum, presented the paper “Digital storytelling and filmmaking for Improving upper elementary African American science learning” at the 2021 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Dr. Hope Bess Wilson, associate professor in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum, and graduate student Lily Exantus received the COEHS Vicki Cornett Award in recognition of their “random acts of kindness and deliberate acts of care."

U.S. News and World Report ranked UNF in the top 100 for Best Online Graduate Education programs (MS in ASL/English Interpreting, MEd in Ed Leadership: Early Childhood Education and MS Education Technology, Training & Development).

Thomas G. Carpenter Library
Tom Caswell
, associate dean, and Courtenay McLeland, head of Digital Projects and Preservation, contributed the chapter “Building Together: A Dedicated Space for Student Art Exhibits,” in Liaison Engagement Success: A Practical Guide for Librarians. (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.)

LGBTQ Center
Manny Velásquez-Paredes
, center director, has been selected to receive the 2021 Florida LGBTQ+ Leadership Award from the National Diversity Council during the organization’s upcoming Florida LGBTQ+ Unity Summit in June. Read more about the award.

Academic and Student Affairs
Lorin Thies
, assistant director of development, has been honored as one of Jacksonville’s ’40 Under 40’ for 2021 by the Jacksonville Business Journal. This annual list honors 40 of the most promising professionals in Northeast Florida and celebrates their accomplishments and contributions to their field of work. Honorees will be awarded virtually on Wednesday, May 19. Read more about the award


UNF balloonsMilestones

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


30 Years  

Kellie Woodle, Director, Academic Advising Services, First Year Advising 


25 Years 

Melissa Bush, Associate Lecturer, Chemistry 


20 Years 

Margaret Terrell, Library Services Specialist, Library 


15 Years 

Michael Chung, Assistant Director, Educational Training Programs, Small Business Development Center 

William Eckert, Coordinator, Library Services 

Liz Wondell, Director, Academic Advising Services, COAS Advising 


10 Years 

Maria Cartolano, Executive Secretary, Administration and Finance 

April Flores, Office Manager, Construction Management 

Cathy Harris, Custodial Supervisor, Physical Facilities 

Casey Knowles, Coordinator, Budgets, Physical Facilities 

Colleen Sharp, Assistant Director, Fine Arts Center 

5 Years

Sara Colosimo, Lecturer, Biology 

Tim Hunter, Database Administrator, Florida Institute of Education 

Andrew Johnson, Law Enforcement Liaison, IPTM 

Brittany Vining, Recreation Operations Coordinator, Field House Rentals 



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

John Burdine, Manager, Construction and Facilities Procurement, Procurement Services 

Heather Burk, Fiscal Business Analyst, Psychology                          

Rebecca Burns, Professor, Teaching, Learning and Curriculum 

Ryan Dobbertien, Program Specialist, Student Health Services             

Trevon Gale, Recycle Refuse Worker, Recycle 

Emily Gruber, Assistant Director, Admissions 

Kelly Hovinga, Virtual Learning Librarian, Library                             

Chonticha Martinez, Admissions Processing Specialist, Enrollment Services Processing Office 

Kismet Miller, Accounting Associate, MOCA Jacksonville 

Janet Newman, Admissions Coordinator, Admissions                          

Jaime Oliver, Director of Advising, CCEC Advising 

Thomas Ramsey, Manager for Clinical Research, Psychology                          

Austin Sprunger, Senior Library Services Associate, Library                             

Miranda Whitlow, Admissions Processing Specialist, Enrollment Services Processing Office 


Great Job

The following employees were promoted recently:

Lakshmi Goel, Associate Dean/Professor, Coggin College of Business           

Jillian Gooding, Associate Registrar, Registrar's Office                  

Colin McKinney, Assistant Director, Academic Support Services, Registrar's Office                  

Susan Perez, Interim Associate Vice President, Undergraduate Studies 

Michael Russo, Assistant Director, Online Learning Support, Distance Learning Fee 

Gary Sessoms, Senior Custodial Worker, Student Union 

Terrence Synnott, Associate Director, Prospect Research, Constituent Programs 

Michael Trotter, Manager, Shipping Receiving, Procurement Services 



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

Ammar Al Geboury, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance and Energy Management 

Regan Bartley, Administrative Secretary, Art, Art History, and Design 

Mary Ann Goodrich, VPK Regional Facilitator, Florida Institute of Education      

Matthew Harris, Coordinator Persistence, Undergraduate Studies 

Cristina Helbling, Assistant Vice President, Undergraduate Studies 

Jennifer Joyce, Assistant Director, Academic Support Services, Admissions                          

Arlene Levy, Senior Property Assets Rep, Controller                          

Emily Lopes, Academic Advisor, UGS Academic Advising 

Cheryl Lynch, Coordinator, Research Programs Services, Small Business Development Center 

Everett Malcolm, Associate VP, Student Affairs 

James Rowley, Senior Fire Alarm Technician, Maintenance and Energy Management 

Katherine Shalov, Assistant Director, Annual Giving 

Joseph Silvestri, Assistant Athletic Coach, Women's Basketball                  

David Sosnowski, Police Support Associate, University Police Department 

Mark Yarick, Coordinator, Research Program Services, Small Business Development Center 


In Memoriam

The UNF community is saddened to learn of the recent death of a UNF employee:

Stephen Sabia, Recycle Refuse Worker, Recycle 

Read his obituary.

Around Campus

Swoop Summary

UNF Volleyball players

Beach Volleyball Knocks Off Stetson to Win ASUN Championship
Needing to win four matches in a row to win the title after a loss on day one of the tournament, UNF Beach Volleyball scaled that mountain with grit to earn the program's first ASUN Championship since 2016. Learn more about the Beach Volleyball ASUN champs.

Mattiace Earns ASUN All-Academic Honor for Third Time
The 2021 ASUN Conference Men's Golf All-Academic Team was announced on Tuesday featuring five student-athletes from five institutions. For the third consecutive season, North Florida's Michael Mattiace was a member of the squad. Learn more about the ASUN honor.


Women's Tennis ASUN ChampsWomen's Tennis Crowned ASUN Champions
After an hour-long rain delay, the North Florida women's tennis team battled hard to defeat FGCU, 4-2, in the 2021 ASUN Women's Tennis Championship. This marks the Osprey's sixth-straight conference title and ninth in program history. Learn more about the ASUN win.

Women's Golf Tabbed 11th Seed at NCAA Louisville Regional
The North Florida women's golf team made more history when the Ospreys earned an at-large invitation to the NCAA Louisville (Ky.) Regional set for May 10-12 at U of L Golf Club. It marked the first time UNF has qualified for the postseason without the ASUN automatic qualifier status. Learn more about the golf team's success.

Five Ospreys Earn ASUN Honors, Berglund Collects Coach of the Year Award
North Florida's Head Coach Joanne Berglund landing the Coach of the Year honor highlighted the 2021 ASUN Conference Women's Golf Postseason All-Conference awards as voted on by the league's head coaches. Learn more about the honors for Berglund.


Gabrelcik Sweeps ASUN Awards, Ospreys Garner Multiple All-Conference Nods
North Florida's Nick Gabrelcik highlighted the ASUN Conference Men's Golf Postseason All-Conference honors being named both the Golfer and Freshman of the Year as voted on by the league's head coaches. Gabrelcik earned both the Golfer and Freshman of the Year accolade as he is currently ranked second in the nation among all collegiate golfers. Learn more about the honors for Gabrelcik.

Around Campus

Nutrition and Fermented Foods

Bowls of yogurt

Did You Know?
People have been fermenting foods like wine and bread since 4,000 B.C., making fermented foods the oldest processed foods. Before other methods of food preservation such as refrigeration and canning were discovered, fermentation of food was needed to preserve food. These ancient methods of fermentation were passed down through the centuries in nearly every culture around the globe. For example, soy sauce and fermented cabbage originated from China. The practice of pickling cabbage eventually spread to Europe and became the popular “sauerkraut” (“sour cabbage”) in Germany. Yogurt is also an ancient food, and likely originated from many different cultures around the world. The word “yogurt” is Turkish in origin, stemming from the verb “yogurmak” which means “to thicken.”

What is fermentation?
Fermentation comes from the Latin word “fervere,” meaning to boil. During fermentation, beneficial bacteria and/or yeast feed on sugar and starch in food, which creates byproducts like lactic acid, alcohol and other new compounds. These byproducts add flavor and aroma, and also preserve the food and extend shelf life by many weeks or months. Many fermented foods are rich in probiotics, the healthy bacteria that benefits our gastro-intestinal health.

What are some examples of fermented foods we eat today?
Today, fermented foods are considered a new superfood by many. This is not surprising, as word has spread of the health benefits related to consuming some of these foods. Consumption of kombucha, kimchi, kefir and pickled vegetables is on the rise with an increase of 50% over the last decade. Manufacturers are responding to this craze by offering a wide variety of fermented products. One of these popular items is Kombucha, a fermented black or green tea that is effervescent. Also rising in popularity is Kimchi, a vegetable dish made with napa cabbage and other vegetables and then fermented with chili powder, fish sauce and many other delicious spices.

What are the health benefits of fermented foods?
Possible benefits of fermented foods include proper digestion, improvement of gut microflora, immunity and reduced inflammation. Probiotics may also help with certain gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel disease and diarrhea, and aid in restoration of healthy gut microflora after taking antibiotics. Researchers also are finding connections with the gut microbiome and reduction in inflammation, and they hypothesize it may be protective against heart disease.

Submitted by Melissa Baron MS, RDN, LD/N, Instructor at UNF, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Juan Salcedo, Graduate Student at UNF, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics

Additional note: UNF researchers in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics are investigating the effects of fermented vegetables on the microbiome and heart health and are seeking men and women ages 35-64 to be a part of the study. Read more about how to participate in the study.

Around Campus

Spread the Word

UNF sign on campus UNF recognized with ‘Healthiest Company Award’ for 13th consecutive year

The University of North Florida has been honored with the Platinum Level Award, the highest designation, in the 2021 Healthiest Companies Awards by the First Coast Worksite Wellness Council. This is the 13th consecutive year that UNF has received the Healthiest Company Award, which will be presented at a virtual conference Wednesday, May 5. Read more about the award.


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Inside UNF is a monthly publication produced by UNF Marketing and Communications
Marsha Blasco, Editor and lead writer; Contributing writers: Melissa Baron MS, RDN, LD/N, Instructor at UNF, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Juan Salcedo, Graduate Student at UNF, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics; Isabel Pease, Assistant Vice President of Marketing