USFSP Partners With Police on New Internship

Police work is different these days. Like so many fields, law enforcement is developing ways to use new technologies to increase effectiveness and efficiencies.

USFSP Criminology student Timothy Saldibar shares a data mapping exercise with Dean Biafora.

USFSP Criminology student Timothy Saldibar shares a data mapping exercise with Dean Biafora.

The St. Petersburg Police Department is using technology to improve public safety perception, prevent or deter crime and  enhance the City’s social capital overall. Research skills, data mapping and analysis have become critical to the work.

Enter USFSP Criminology student Timothy Saldibar. Saldibar was selected to become the first IT Services intern with the St. Pete P.D. and as such, is working closely with senior crime analysts like Richard Ferner.

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Dr. Richard Ferner

“College students today are typically more adept at learning and using new and emerging technologies and the learning curve can be far less steep,” said Ferner, DBA, who is a senior management methods analyst with the St. Pete P.D. “Considering the challenges in today’s society, incorporating student interns and hiring college graduates can serve as an essential component of a broader strategy in both building and preserving a law enforcement agency that is equipped to deal with divisive issues, resource scarcity and general uncertainty.”

Ferner says that by the end of the internship, Saldibar will be able to work as member of a project team, and produce analytical reports and resources that promote situational awareness among officers in the field. He will have developed leadership skills that will provide a foundation for success in any chosen profession.

“The bulk of the credit for solidifying this important partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department goes to Dr. William Ruefle in the USFSP Criminology program,” said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Over the past few years Dr. Ruefle and his faculty colleagues have updated the curriculum to include greater opportunities for students to gain valuable research, hi-tech, and hands-on training, preparing students like Timothy for a wide array of new career opportunities.”

USFSP Professor Presents Research at AERA

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Dr. AnnMarie Alberton Gunn

USFSP Assistant Professor of Education, AnnMarie Alberton Gunn, Ph.D., presented research at the national conference of the American Education Research Association (AERA) in Philadelphia. Gunn’s presentation, “Teacher’s Moving Forward on Their Self-Cultural Awareness Spectrum: Museums and Diverse Children’s Literature,” attempts to answer this research question:

Does participation in a multicultural children’s literature course that includes a cultural literacy civic engagement project with the FL Holocaust Museum influence students’ teaching pedagogy?

It would appear that it does. “Initial findings show that our graduate students, most of whom are practicing teachers, are looking for issues of inequity when developing their own lesson plans,” said Gunn. “In turn, we’ll know better how these social and political issues may impact K-12 students.”

Next semester, Gunn will continue to measure impact by visiting the classrooms of former students. “What’s exciting is that in analyzing diverse, multicultural issues, my students are feeling more empowered to teach,” she said.

“Dr. Gunn’s work is having a measurable impact on the teachers in the College of Education’s graduate programs,” said Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., interim regional vice chancellor of Academic Affairs. “Integrating research in multicultural children’s literature with community engagement with the Holocaust Museum is a notable example of the applied research for which USFSP faculty are becoming increasingly well-known.”

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USFSP Professor Awarded Princeton Fellowship

— Dr. V. Mark Durand

USFSP Psychology professor Mark Durand, Ph.D., traveled to Princeton last week as a recipient of the highly regarded 2014 Princeton Lecture Series Fellowship. As a tribute to his career in the field of autism, Dr. Durand was selected to be a keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary of the Princeton Lecture Series on Autism, where experts are invited to present new findings and future possibilities for the treatment and awareness of this complex developmental disorder.

“This is an impressive accomplishment for Dr. Durand and an honor for USFSP,” said Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., interim regional vice chancellor of Academic Affairs. “This award simply confirms what we’ve long understood — that Dr. Durand is one of this country’s leading authorities on autism.”

Durand’s body of work includes the publication of three books since November: “Sleep Better! A Guide to Improving Sleep for Children with Special Needs,” “Autism Spectrum Disorder,” which is aimed at helping clinicians screen for and treat the disorder, and “Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach,” Seventh Edition, a textbook required by universities across the country. Yet a fourth book, the seventh edition of a second text, “Essentials of Abnormal Psychology” is due in the fall.

For his Princeton lecture, Durand drew largely from his research and the resulting popular book, “Optimistic Parenting,” which guides parents and teachers of challenged children on how to develop more positive thoughts and perceptions — a key ingredient of successful parenting and effective behavior management.

“Trying to change difficult child behavior is much more complicated if families are struggling themselves,” says Durand. “What we are learning is that confidence and optimism — having hope — are prerequisites to successful parenting.”

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

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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.