USFSP Wins Florida Society of Geographers Awards

Three USFSP graduate students from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Geography (ESPG) were awarded prizes at the annual conference of the Florida Society of Geographers (FSG): Steven Douglas, Kimberly Lyons and Elizabeth Merton were recognized for their presentations. Douglas received an Honorable Mention in the Best Graduate Award category for his presentation on “Modeling of Groundwater Contamination Potential from Septic Tanks and Golf Courses: An Integrated Geospatial Approach.” Lyons and Merton won Best Poster awards.

ESPG Masters student Kimberly Lyons took home top honors for her poster depicting the "Using SWAT and MUSLE with a downsized climate model to predict sedimentation due to increased storm intensity in the Fajardo River basin, Puerto Rico."

ESPG Masters student Kimberly Lyons took home top honors for her poster depicting “Using SWAT and MUSLE with a downsized climate model to predict sedimentation due to increased storm intensity in the Fajardo River basin, Puerto Rico.”

“Of the 22 graduate students who presented at the conference—and where 80 percent of the grad students were Ph.D. students—three awards came to USFSP,” said Barnali Dixon, Ph.D., Associate Professor of GIS and Remote Sensing and Chair, Dept. of ESPG. “Other awards went to Ph.D. candidates from Florida Atlantic University and a University of Florida undergrad. I am really proud of our group.”

Dr. Dixon is faculty adviser to the three USFSP winners. Judges for the competition were from Florida State University and Jacksonville University.

“I am very proud of our students,” said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “And I am equally proud of the faculty who helped them prepare professional presentations for this important regional conference.”

The FSG marks its 50th anniversary this month; its first meeting was hosted by USF in Orlando in 1964. USF faculty Bob Fusion was the first president. Dr. Dixon currently serves as President of the Society.

Teaching Math With Technology: Professor Presents at National Conference

Fueyo SunBay

Dr. Vivian Fueyo, USFSP College of Education and interim regional vice chancellor for Academic Affairs

How can innovative classroom technology combined with well-researched curriculum materials and intensive teacher training affect a middle school teacher’s ability to teach math concepts? How can it improve a student’s ability to learn them?

The answers to those questions were among research findings Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., USFSP professor of Childhood Education and interim regional vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, delivered last week at the national meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators in California. Fueyo and fellow researcher George Roy, P.h.D., University of South Carolina, presented “Teaching With Technology: Two Tiers of Professional Development,” pointing to their research on how the methods of SunBay Digital Mathematics can make a difference in middle-school mathematics instruction.

“We found that students of teachers using SunBay to teach key mathematical topics showed consistently higher learning than students taught by traditional means,” said Dr. Fueyo. “Gains were consistently higher for lower-performing students.”

The SunBay Digital Mathematics project aims to set the direction of the future of middle school mathematics education, specifically to increase student achievement in grades 6-8 on the major math topics of Florida’s Sunshine State Standards.

The project is collaboration between SRI International and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), with funding support from the Duke Energy Foundation, the Next Generation Learning Challenges of the Gates Foundation, the Pinellas Education Foundation, and the Helios Foundation.

Florida Studies nature writing series planned at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

USF St. Petersburg Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D., is organizing a series of public readings and discussions at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve this spring focused on nature writing. They will read selections from their non-fiction work.

Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D. | Photo by Aaron Alper, '12.

Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D. | Student Photo by Aaron Alper, ’12.

Titled “Writers in the Preserve,’’ this three-day series is organized around the theme, “How Do We Find Nature in the City?”

The series is co-sponsored by the USFSP Florida Studies Program, the College of Arts and Sciences and Friends of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. It is co-organized by Boyd Hill ranger Andrea Andersen.

On February 21, Hallock joins award-winning Tampa Bay Times writer Jeff Klinkenberg, journalist Cathy Salustri, a USFSP Florida Studies graduate, and Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, a staff writer for Hernando Today/Tampa Tribune and a USFSP journalism master’s graduate.

On March 28, poets Gianmarc Manzione, Gloria Muñoz and Brian Duncan will lead a poetry night hike through the Preserve.

The series concludes on April 11 with “13 Ways of Looking at a City: Community Gathering,” as writers, environmentalists and community advocates celebrate the natural and built environment of south St. Petersburg.

“This lecture series demonstrates the extraordinary talent at USF St. Petersburg and our commitment to engaging the community with provocative programming,’’ said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I commend Dr. Hallock for his creative leadership.”

Each event is free and open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. For more information contact Thomas Hallock at or (727) 873-4954. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (727-893-7326) is located at 1101 Country Club Way S. in St. Petersburg.


New baseball club kicks off season at Al Lang Stadium

USF St. Petersburg’s new student baseball club kicks off its exhibition season against USF Tampa at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15.

Mayor Rick Kriseman will throw out the first pitch in what is being dubbed the “Battle of the Bay.” It is free and open to the public.

“We are very excited to have Mayor Kriseman participating in this history-making event for USF St. Petersburg,’’ said baseball club co-founder David Stern.

The USFSP Baseball Club was formed by Stern, fellow senior Tyler Thomas and sophomore Jeremy Burger. They are students in the College of Business.

“We all have a huge passion for baseball,” said Stern, an Entrepreneurship major. “I’ve always had the vision to start a club here and when I bumped into Jeremy, we decided to pull it together.”

Student government donated uniforms and the Division of Student Affairs will help cover costs of the game at Al Lang, including free food and t-shirts for students.

The club practices at city parks Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and will play the rest of its home games there. It has scheduled home games with clubs from Kansas, Iowa and Canada, among others this spring at city parks.

“We have a no-cut policy,” noted Stern. “But that said, we’re pretty competitive.”

For more information about the USFSP Baseball Club or the “Battle of the Bay,” email

First student exchange program is a bridge to Belgium

USF St. Petersburg’s first student exchange program began with an unexpected phone call from Belgium three years ago.

Erika Greenberg-Schneider, a visiting instructor at USF St. Petersburg’s Graphic Design Program who is such a renowned printmaker she was honored by France as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, was at her studio in Tampa when the phone rang.

Would she agree to be the keynote speaker at a major art event in Liege, Belgium? The caller was a professor at École Supérieure des Arts Saint-Luc de Liège, so before she said yes she asked if the acclaimed art school would be interested in a student exchange program with USF St. Petersburg.

And so began a long journey that ended last fall with USFSP graphic design seniors Carmela Zabala and Maria Cuahutle living and studying in Belgium for the semester and continues this spring with Belgium student Laurent Baarslag living and studying here.

“I think the students are gaining an immense amount from this,” said Greenberg-Schneider. “This is a real occasion for them to go out and explore. It’s really good for them to experience other countries and cultures.”

Zabala said the semester in Liege had a profound impact. “I learned a lot,” she said. “I became a better designer through it. I’ve seen my work mature. Looking at my work now and looking at it before, it’s just very different.’’ She wrote about her experiences in ‘burg Blogs.

Cuahutle agrees. “It was a growing experience personally,’’ she said. “It made me question what I wanted to do. It was eye opening.” It also gave her a new appreciation for the USFSP Graphic Design Program “The program is really good here,” she said. “It’s top notch.” And it bolstered her confidence and independence.

For Baarslag, the decision to spend this semester at USF St. Petersburg has been one of the best he has made. “It’s a big opportunity to be here,” he said. There is a spirit of teamwork in the program, he says, a lot of energy and focus. “Here it is more intense,” he said. “We work a lot more here.”

Zabala and Cuahutle stayed in private homes and Baarslag is staying with a couple of fellow USFSP graphic design students. The living arrangements are one of the best parts of the exchange program, the students say, because it immerses them in the culture and helps them learn the language and local customs.

While this is the first USFSP’s first student exchange program but likely not the last.

“This inaugural exchange program shows the extraordinary efforts the university is taking to prepare global citizens for the 21st century,’’ said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This is a model for other programs that could develop out of this.”