Sailing - Photo by Thomas Hamby

USF St. Petersburg co-hosting College Sailing Spring National Championships

USF St. Petersburg will co-host the 10-day 2013 College Sailing Spring National Championships starting Tuesday, May 21.

The USF Women’s Sailing Team, which is based at USF St. Petersburg, is among 27 teams from across the country that will compete May 21-24 for the national Gerald C. Miller Trophy.

Other races include team competitions for the Walter C. Wood Trophy, 25-27, and co-ed competitions May 28-30 for the Henry A. Morss Trophy.

USF St. Petersburg is honored to host the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association spring nationals along with Eckerd College and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, said Zac Oppenheim, USFSP assistant director of Student Life and Engagement.

“This is a big deal,’’ Oppenheim said. “In the college sailing community, it’s the biggest deal.”

All the events start about 9 a.m. and will take place in Tampa Bay near the Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove at the southern tip of Pinellas County. Spectators can watch from the beach at the cove.

Students in the Field Experiential Methods course worked with this underwater sensing device.

Students call experimental course on field research a big success

By all indications, an experimental environmental science course taught for the first time during the spring semester was a big success.

The undergraduate selected topics course, “Field Experiential Methods,” combined time in the classroom with hands-on field research in Tampa Bay. It was designed by David Fries, director of the Ecosystems Technology Group at the College of Marine Science.

“This is a terrific example of recent collaborations and expanding opportunities that exist between USF St. Petersburg and the USF College of Marine Science,” said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., dean of the USFSP College of Arts and Sciences.

Students used an underwater sensing device to gather data about water in parts of Tampa Bay. The device, created by Fries originally to gather data about red tide, is “like having a human in a can,” Fries said. The data gathered by the students can be fed into computer models used to predict tides and storm surge, said Fries, who hopes the student work will be published in a research journal.

“This is what we should be doing given recent advances in technology,” said graduating senior Mason Jeffers, one of seven students in the class. “It would be ridiculous to try and learn environmental science only inside the classroom.” He thinks taking the course will help to better position him for graduate school.

“It’s an amazingly good idea,” said Ben Prueitt, a graduating senior who plans to attend the College of Marine Science in the fall. “I think it sets up a balanced teaching model for the future.”

“Applied environmental field sciences is growing in importance, especially for our geographic area and an increasingly important learning objective put forth by the faculty within the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Geography,” said Biafora. Future collaborations between USFSP and the College of Marine Science are already being considered, Biafora said.

College of Arts and Sciences to offer new Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Cultures

USF St. Petersburg will offer a new Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Cultures in the fall to provide students with the language skills and cultural expertise they need to compete in the global economy.

It is the only degree like it in the State University System. The degree will offer undergraduate students applied learning experiences here and abroad while encouraging them to engage in relevant community-based activities that will enrich and strengthen classroom experiences. This approach will allow students to apply their learning to real-world situations, culminating in a cross-disciplinary research project.

Students will take a sequence of core courses in language skills and choose electives that best suit their career aspirations, from international business and commerce to international law and public relations, among many others. They will be encouraged to complement the World Languages and Cultures major with minors in other fields of study to better prepare their professional futures.

“The new BA in World Languages and Cultures is the culmination of months of work and planning and will benefit students seeking a greater understanding of our increasingly interconnected world,” said Martine Fernandes, Ph.D., associate professor of French and coordinator of the World Languages Program. “The degree will prepare students for a broad array of job opportunities.”

Norine Noonan, Ph.D., USFSP vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the new degree reflects the university’s increased focus on global citizenship. “We want our students to be prepared to take on the challenges of the 21st Century, and that means gaining a better understanding of the world around them,” she said.

USFSP already offers minors in French/Francophone Studies and Spanish/Hispanic Studies and has seen demand increase in recent years.

Any questions can be directed to Dr. Martine Fernandes for French and to Dr. Frederic Leveziel for Spanish. Read more about World Languages and Culture.


Kimberly Kopnitsky placed second in the education category.

Nine students participate in first Statewide Graduate Research Symposium

Nine USF St. Petersburg students participated recently in the first Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium that brought together graduate students from across Florida to showcase their work.

USFSP Masters of Reading Education student Kimberly Kopnitsky placed second in the education category for her research project, “The Effects of Peer Editing and Response in a First Grade Writer’s Workshop.”

Eight of Florida’s 12 public universities participated in this first-ever event hosted by USF Tampa.

While the primary purpose of the symposium was to showcase the impressive research by graduate students at Florida universities, it also gave the participating students and faculty members a rare chance to network and to discuss possible research collaborations.

“We are extremely proud of our USFSP team,” said Norine Noonan, regional vice chancellor for academic affairs, who served as a judge at the symposium.

Other judges from USFSP were Anna Lewis, Ph.D., visiting associate professor of science education in the College of Education; and Alison Watkins, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate and certificate programs in the College of Business.

The other USFSP students participating were:

  • Masters of Environmental Science Student Rita Beckhorn.
  • Masters of Business Administration student Christopher Brown
  • Masters of Liberal Arts student Veronica Carroll
  • Masters of Environmental Science and Policy student Lauren Drakopulos
  • Masters of Arts in Reading Education fall 2012 graduate Brian Flores
  • Masters of Liberal Arts fall 2012 graduate Jennifer Probst
  • Masters of Environmental Science student Lindsey Schmidt
  • Masters of Arts in Reading Education student Allison Wickman


Visiting Graphic Design Instructor Erika Greenberg-Schneider with James Foster (left) and Sierra Schneider (right).

Two Graphic Design Program students place first, second in printmaking competition

Two USF St. Petersburg Graphic Design Program students were honored recently by the local chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters at its annual Career Awards program at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

Sierra Schneider of New Port Richey won first place and $3,000 and James Foster of St. Petersburg won second place and $2,000 in a competition sponsored by the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters. Schneider will compete nationally in Pittsburgh next month for a top prize of $15,000.

Both are students of USFSP Visiting Instructor Erika Greenberg-Schneider, an internationally renowned printmaker who has been honored by France as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. Greenberg-Schneider was the keynote speaker at the April 13 awards program and discussed the intense focus and hours of work required to refine printmaking skills.

“These students remind you why you teach,” Greenberg-Schneider said of Schneider and Foster. “They never put thinking in their pocket. They are curious and are aware of the work that it takes to be really good at something. They take criticism as others would enjoy chocolate because they want to get better.

“They know why they are in college,” she added, “what they want to come away with and most of all, why they work so hard.”

Norine Noonan, Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, praised the work of the students and their professor. “USFSP places high value on these kinds of student-faculty creative collaborations,” she said.  “The achievements of these students clearly illustrate the high quality of work being done in our Graphic
Design Program.”