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.


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.”

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

Members of the Mu Gamma chapter of Beta Alpha Psi gather outside the University Student Center.

Mu Gamma Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi earns superior status

The USF St. Petersburg Mu Gamma Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the honor society for accounting and finance students, has earned superior status by the international organization for the sixth year in a row.

The chapter will receive a $275 award by the KPMG Foundation in recognition of its superior status. Accounting Instructor Patricia A. Gaukel is faculty advisor for the chapter, which was founded six years ago.

“Recognition as Superior Chapter is a significant accomplishment,’’ Beta Alpha Psi President Jan Taylor Morris wrote in announcing the award. “Under the leadership of Patricia Gaukel the Mu Gamma Chapter has far exceeded the baseline requirements of Beta Alpha Psi and has excelled in the areas of academics, professionalism, and leadership.”

“Attaining superior status six years in a row is a particularly impressive accomplishment for a relatively new chapter with only 35 members,” said College of Business Dean Maling Ebrahimpour. “We are very proud of our students and thank Patricia Gaukel for her leadership.”

Vivian Fueyo, interim regional vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the accomplishment reflects the hard work and commitment that is characteristic of the College of Business. “The national recognition of our students by Beta Alpha Psi is the highest praise our dedicated students and their adviser can receive,” she said.

Superior status is awarded by BAP International each year to chapters whose members attain specific goals, including attending a minimum number of professional events and engaging in volunteer work in the community.

Left to right: Psychology Professor Christina Salnaitis, Ph.D.; William C. Nicks; Elizabeth Southard; and Anthropology Professor John Arthur, Ph.D., at the inaugural Student Research Colloquium at Poynter Memorial Library.

Student Research Colloquium Series begins at Poynter Library

Elizabeth Southard worked on three research projects, including two summers spent studying the Gamo people in Ethiopia, before graduating in December with a B.A. in Anthropology.

William C. Nicks, a double-major December graduate in psychology and political science, spent a year studying near-infrared spectroscopy technology and is preparing the findings for publication in a scholarly journal.

On Wednesday they presented their work during the inaugural Student Research Colloquium Series at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library.

Both said the chance to conduct research with top-flight professors as undergraduates was a highlight of their time at USF St. Petersburg and they encouraged their fellow students at the Colloquium to take advantage of such opportunities.

“I don’t think there are that many universities that give undergraduates the opportunities I’ve been given here,’’ said Southard. “Being able to work on three different research projects, one of which took me all the way to Africa, is a pretty amazing opportunity.”

Southard worked closely on her Ethiopia research with Anthropology professors John Arthur, Ph.D., and Kathy Arthur, Ph.D.. Nicks collaborated with Psychology Professor Christina Salnaitis, Ph.D.

Nicks said his research helped him decide his career path. Near-infrared spectroscopy technology is a non-invasive method to analyze the brain . His research found the technology is very reliable and “has so many applications, not just psychology.’’ He plans to attend graduate school and become a brain researcher.

Southard also plans to attend graduate school to become an anthropologist. Besides Ethiopia, Southard helped curate the “Butch” Evans artifact collection at the Poynter Library and studied ancient artifacts at Weedon Island in St. Petersburg. Earlier this year the Tampa Bay History Center awarded her the Leland Hawes Prize for best undergraduate research paper for “The Cultural Importance of the Prehistoric and Historic History of Weedon Island.” She also presented the paper at a conference of the Society for Ethnobotany in Denver.

Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., interim regional vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the Student Research Colloquium Series underscores the importance of student-faculty collaboration at USF St. Petersburg. “Giving our students opportunities to conduct research one-on-one with professors is what USF St. Petersburg is all about,’’ she said. “It’s a great way for them to expand the knowledge they gain in the classroom and increase their engagement in learning.’’

The library-sponsored colloquium series is designed to allow students to gain valuable experience by presenting their research, project or idea to their fellow students and to USFSP faculty, said Carol Hixson, Dean of the Poynter Library. “We are delighted to provide this opportunity for students to practice their presentation skills and to spread their knowledge with their fellow students,’’ she said. “In addition to providing the venue for a live presentation, we are further supporting student research by archiving the presentations in the USFSP Digital Archive.”

The series will be held in the library’s Poynter Corner on the third Wednesday of each month.

Adam Eisenberg is the first graduate of the Digital Journalism and Design Program.

First Digital Journalism and Design graduate already putting new skills to work

Adam Eisenberg was an online producer working at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel when he decided to pursue a master’s degree in journalism.

He went looking for a program grounded in the digital age that would take his skills to a new level.

“A lot of the programs I looked at were very theory-based and I wanted something really practical that focused on digital journalism, something that until now didn’t exist,’’ Eisenberg says.

He found what he was looking for at the USF St. Petersburg Digital Journalism and Design Program. So a year ago he left his job and joined the program’s founding class.

Last month he became the program’s first graduate and is back at the Sun-Sentinel applying what he learned.

Because the program is fully online, Eisenberg was able to take classes at his home in Pompano Beach on Florida’s East Coast without ever stepping foot on the USFSP campus.

“It really hits that sweet spot in terms of practicality,” Eisenberg says. “It was something I was really looking for: The skills that are really required of journalists today. And the fact that it was online made it the perfect match.”

The program, launched in fall 2012 under the leadership of Associate Professor of Journalism Mark Walters, has attracted a mix of students, from recent undergraduates to mid-career journalists looking to enhance their knowledge and skills.

 “You’re interacting with a really wide range of interesting people in these courses,’’ says Eisenberg.

The program uses technology to great effect to increase interaction among students and professors, he says, including video conferencing and course message boards. “I really feel like I know these people so well even though we haven’t met face to face,’’ he says.

Each of the program’s 12 courses addresses a different aspect of digital journalism, providing a solid foundation of skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the fast-paced world of online journalism. The topics include multimedia reporting, digital media technology, photojournalism, digital video and audio production, visual communication and entrepreneurial journalism.

Eisenberg says he is putting all the knowledge and skills he acquired in the past year to good use every day and has recommended the program to others.

“As we enter the second year of this program, we have been very pleased at the response we are getting from our students,’’ said Walters.

Vivian Fueyo, interim regional vice chancellor for academic affairs, said Eisenberg’s success is heartening and reflects the hard work of Walters and the rest of the digital journalism faculty. “This program is an example of the kind of innovative academic programs USF St. Petersburg offers to meet the needs of students, regardless of where they live, and to prepare them for today’s workforce,’’ she said.