USF St. Petersburg students demonstrate how to create electricity from chlorophyll at last year's St. Petersburg Science Festival.

St. Petersburg Science Festival returning to USF St. Petersburg

The Third Annual St. Petersburg Science Festival, the largest community celebration of science in the Southeast, returns to USF St. Petersburg on Saturday, Oct. 19 with more than 100 hands-on exhibits along Bayboro Harbor.

Once again this year, USF St. Petersburg science students and faculty will present exhibits and research, including a hydrogen-fueled model car, chlorophyll solar cells and creating bio-diesel from waste oil.

The festival, held in conjunction with MarineQuest, drew more than 10,000 people last year. This year’s event includes an exclusive sneak peek for more than 1,000 school children on Friday, Oct. 18.

Saturday’s festival begins at 10 a.m. with an explosive science experiment on stage at Poynter Park at 10 a.m., led by USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and USF College of Marine Science Dean Jacqueline Dixon.

Along with a full day of science shows and music, the festival will feature activities ranging from crazy chemistry experiments to fighting robots. Visitors can board a research vessel, build a fire, run an underwater remotely operated vehicle, peer into a microscope at aquatic animals and archaeological artifacts, escape fishing nets, test an artificial limb, create art from science and launch a rocket.

USFSP’s exhibits will be coordinated by Madhu Pandey, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of chemistry, and will include student research on manatees, molecular modeling and crime scene analysis.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from USF St. Petersburg restaurants including The Reef, World of Wings, The Tavern at Bayboro and the Campus Grind. Food trucks will line 3rd Street South at Poynter Park. View campus maps.

The festival was created to encourage youth to develop a passion for science and engineering. It is a collaboration of more than 60 university departments, government agencies and private organizations, many of which are part of the St. Petersburg Ocean Team, a consortium of research groups employing more than 1,600 marine scientists in St. Petersburg.

Major sponsors include USF St. Petersburg, the City of St. Petersburg, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration Center and Aquarium, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the USF College of Marine Science, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Duke Energy, Eckerd College, Draper Laboratory, Rays Baseball Foundation,, and Science Festival Alliance. Media partners include Bay News 9, CBS Radio, Tampa Bay Times, WEDU, and WMNF 88.5 FM.

For more information go to, email Science Festival Co-Chair Howard Rutherford or call him at (727) 803-9799, ext. 202.

Internal Awards Program faculty grants announced, totalling nearly $80,000

Nearly $80,000 has been awarded to 10 USF St. Petersburg faculty members through the 2012 Internal Awards Program, Interim Regional Chancellor Bill Hogarth announced Friday.

The program provides “seed money” through a competitive process. The money allows faculty members to lay the groundwork for proposals to external sponsors such as federal and state agencies.

Nearly two dozen faculty members applied.  Each applicant was asked to explain the impact of the proposed project and identify sources of future funding. The USFSP Research Council reviewed the applications and recommended those it deemed worthy of funding.  Dr. Hogarth awarded the grants based on those recommendations, along with input from Norine Noonan, regional vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Seven awards were in the College of Arts and Sciences, two in the College of Business and one in the College of Education, totaling $79,270.

“The awards underscore the quality and scope of research underway at USF St. Petersburg,’’ said Dr. Hogarth. “I hope this program will help provide the momentum to continue the progress we have seen in the past four years, when research funding has grown from $800,000 to $6 million. I am very proud of our faculty and the research they are conducting, which benefits students and the community.”

Here is a list of the awards by college:

College of Arts and Sciences

  • Henry Alegria, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry, $8,000, Assessing the Impact of Sewage Discharge from Caye Caulker on the Belize Barrier Reef – Application of the FORAM Index.
  • Susan F. Allen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Work, $7,855, A Study of Factors that Affect Birth Mothers’ Adoption Plans in Private Adoptions.
  • Tiffany Chenneville, Ph.D., Associated Professor of Psychology, $7,892, Perceptions of HIV Criminalization Laws Among College Students.
  • Narciso J. Hidalgo, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Spanish, $7,728, Beyond the Boundaries: Orishas and Babalawos in Mexico and Spain
  • Heather Judkins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biological Oceanography, $7,950, Biodiversity Around the Borders.
  • Neil Matthiessen, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, $7,845, WAAS Gallery Exhibit.
  • James McHale, Professor and Chair of Psychology, $8,000, Perceptions of Parenting Coordination by Parents and Coordinators.

College of Business

  • Zheng (Chris) Chen , Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management, $8,000, Work-family Role Boundary Management: A Person Identity Perspective.
  • Varol Onur Kayhan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Information Systems Management, $8,000, Information Privacy: The Effect of Helplessness.

College of Education

  • AnnMarie Alberton Gunn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Reading and Literacy Studies, $8,000, Building A Culturally Responsible Literacy Pedagogy Through Authentic Texts and Community Engagement.


Carvalho Knighton Honored by Valdosta State University

Story by Talia DeAngelo, Class of 2015

In the 15 years since Kathy Carvalho-Knighton received her bachelor’s degree from Georgia’s Valdosta State University, she has strived to positively influence her students and create opportunities for their professional advancement in science. Her efforts and achievements have earned her the inaugural Outstanding Alumna Award from the College of Arts and Sciences at VSU.

Carvalho Knighton was one of the first chemistry faculty members at USFSP when she was hired in 2001 after she earned her PhD in chemistry from USF in 2000. Her desire to inspire students and help them achieve their professional and academic goals led her start the grant-funded STREAMS program, which stands for Supporting Talented and Remarkable Environmental And Marine Science Students Scholarship. STREAMS offers professional, academic and peer mentoring along with a scholarship to the program’s students.

“I want to be an inspiration to my students and others who don’t know what their path is yet,” Carvalho Knighton said. “I want to show them that they can enjoy every academic experience.”

Her enjoyment of the small school atmosphere during her undergraduate years at VSU inspired her to teach at USFSP, where the comparable campus size helped her feel at home.

She will travel with her family to Valdosta to receive the award on Oct. 13. Her last visit to her alma mater was in 2004 when she was invited to give a presentation titled, “Phytoremediation of Heavy Metals.” Carvalho Knighton’s research interests include water quality, phytoremediation of heavy metals by aquatic species, remediation of organic and chlorinated compounds and chemical education.