USF’s Solar Energy Fair

On Saturday Mar. 26, the Solar Energy Society at USF held their annual Solar Energy Fair. It is an event created to help teach the Tampa community about the latest innovations and technologies offered around the city. At this year’s event, there were Question and Answer panels with University professors and specialists; however, the true heart of the event lies with the students who make it all possible.

This year, two USF graduates presented their research to the public in order to share their new ideas. “I have always been a solar enthusiast,” said Arun Kumar. “I hope that these technologies and my research can be used in Third World countries to help other people.”

New breakthroughs are also coming from female students, such as Francesca Moloney who said: “From an early age I knew I wanted to focus my career on something in the environment.”

Both of these students hope to take their research and implement them at the university and across the Tampa Bay area. If their research and innovations succeed, they hope to apply them around the world. They aspire to build awareness in the community about the research being conducted, so that people can make wiser choices in their everyday lives.

Aspirations of Change For A University of South Florida Junior

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Chelsea Spampinato has always loved animals of all kinds. Last August, the then 19-year-old Chelsea and her father, Giorgio, circled a ranch looking for the newest addition to their family.

They had chosen to rescue a rehabilitated pet and Chelsea ultimately decided on a curious little gentleman who followed her around the ranch sticking his nose up her dress.

The technical term for his nose being his trunk, considering Chelsea’s new pet was an elephant. His name is Kariba, which means strength in Zimbabwe.

Chelsea is from Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. It is not uncommon in Zimbabwe to adopt wild animals, like antelope and rhinos, from wildlife sanctuaries, where they will grow up and their owners can visit them as often as they would like.

“She had already adopted seven puppies, so I figured why not add an elephant to the mix,” Giorgio said. “I was a safari leader and so was my son Vittorio, so I am glad that I got the chance to instill this love of animals in both of my children.”

Every summer Chelsea’s father takes their family on a self-guided safari in Hwange, the largest national park in Zimbabwe.

“We go out to the bush for about a week,” Chelsea said. “Since my dad and brother both used to be professional guides, we go out on our own routes, take our own cars and find the animals ourselves which is a really big deal now because a lot of safari’s are set up and kind of fake. I like being able to get the realistic view of Zimbabwe as a native.”

It is her love of animals that has brought Chelsea to schooling so far from home. She decided that if she ever wanted to own her own ranch, which is a great expense, she would have to get a high paying job first. She knew she wanted to attend school in America and chose the University of South Florida because of its warm weather.

The poisoning of water holes at Hwange national park, which killed nearly 300 elephants in the past year inspired Chelsea to work for change.

She wants to participate in the efforts to stop the mass poaching of elephants and other wild animals by one day work for the World Wildlife Fund or even the United Nations so she chose to pursue an international law degree.

Kariba’s mother was poached when he was three weeks old. The herd abandoned him and he was unable to learn how to use his trunk, an essential part of an elephant’s development. He was rescued by the Imire wildlife sanctuary, where he would gain use of his trunk and later meet Chelsea.

While it is hard being so far away from her pets and family, she is driven by her desire to protect the wildlife that is being hunted, not only in Zimbabwe but around the world.

Since coming to the University of South Florida, Chelsea has joined a sorority on campus. The fun fact that she often gives in the form of ice breakers during class or sorority activities is often about Kariba.

“At first I didn’t believe her,”Rachel Manning said, Chelsea’s best friend at school. “Then she showed me pictures and it is just so crazy that I know someone with an elephant as a pet. Now I tell all my friends back home about it.”

Chelsea has not been able to see her elephant since winter break last December. She receives photos and videos of Kariba, who is just over a year old now, from her father.

Giorgio visits Kariba at the ranch about once a week. He said Kariba is getting so big, the next time Chelsea goes to visit him she better be careful because he might accidentally sit on her.

 

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.

Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.

“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”

After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.

“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”

Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.

Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.

USF alumni eats like a caveman

 A young entrepreneur has taken her passion for eating healthy and combined it with her passion for cookies to create her own company Base Culture. This company is not like any other sweets retailer that sales brownies and banana bread; all of the products are paleo friendly, meaning they follow the popular Paleo Diet.

“The Paleo Diet is nicknamed the caveman diet for a reason” says Base Culture founder Jordann Windschauer, “If you were to follow the Paleo Diet, you eat meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.” Windschauer praises the diet and even goes on to say that she felt “more alive than ever and had more energy than she had had in years.”

While the Paleo Diet did have its ups it also had its downs. Windschauer enjoyed the new found energy boost, but she also missed all the sweets she used to eat.

“You know it got really hard not being able to just grab banana bread on the way to work in the morning. I looked for products that could satisfy my sweet tooth but would also satisfy paleo requirements but there were none” said Windschauer. It was that same day she took matters into her own hand and stated creating “sweets” that were made solely from seeds, nuts, and fruits.

She then took her paleo friendly sweets she baked to her local gym to share with her friends and they became an instant hit. People soon began offering compensation for her products, and overnight the company Base Culture was created.

Many customers have claimed to not even taste the difference between paleo friendly brownies and regular brownies. “I just tasted it and it’s actually really good and it’s awesome that it’s really healthy” said satisfied customer Lexi Ashby.

The idea of paleo friendly products has taken the market by force. Since the company’s beginning in 2013, Base Culture products are now available in over 50 stores nationwide and will soon be available in Walmart.

 

 

 

 

USF medical student makes lifelong dream a reality

USFSP student Novonaca Touch fulfills one goal, one a her path to achieving her lifetime dream.
USFSP student Novonaca Touch fulfills one goal, one a her path to achieving her lifetime dream.

Early one spring morning, after taking a biology exam, Novonaca Touch decided to take the Bull Runner home instead of her usual route. She was dropped off in front of her home where she found a white envelope with her name engraved at the top right corner.

She carefully opened the envelope and began to read the letter. Her eyes filled with tears when she saw the words “Congratulations you have been accepted.”

The 22-year-old had applied for Yale School of Medicine during her fall semester at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She had dreams of attending a prestigious medical school ever since she was a little girl living in Cambodia.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that something so monumental like this would happen to me” she said. “Throughout my four years in college I have worked extremely hard and it is just a blessing see how it has paid off.”

Touch was born and raised in Kampot, Cambodia. Her family moved to Tampa four years ago.

“I don’t consider myself a foreign exchange student, but I can relate to the culture shock,” she said. “Americans are open and liberal. People from my country, especially women are more reserved and want to live a private society.”

Touch is currently a senior and studying biomedical science. She plans to use her passion for emergency medical care to join Doctors Without Borders.

“I come from a country where medical care is not easily accessible to everyone in need,” Touch said. “My mission in life is to practice medicine in my home town and give back to as any people as possible.”

She has been accepted to numerous graduate medical schools, including USF College of Medicine. She has received scholarships and study aboard opportunities to further her career.

Myra Phal —a relative of Touch— has also graduated from USF, receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science as well.

“I couldn’t be happier for Novonaca,” she said. “She has such a kind heart and loveable personality. I’m going to be a bit broken hearted when she moves out of Tampa, but I know she will make us proud.”

Touch will begin Yale School of Medicine fall semester of 2016. She will be graduating from USF spring 2016.

“Nervous is the only word to describe how I am feeling,” she said. “Yale is not just an ordinary school… it’s kind of a deal here in the states. I really just want to take this journey one step at a time and make my family and other students with the same background proud of my achievements.”

Touch’s younger sister Dara is next in line to attend USF. She hopes to eventually work side-by-side with her sister.

“Novonaca and I have always had a close relationship. It would be awesome to work under her practice,” she said.

Yale School of Medicine has already begun to make Touch feel like part of the community. She has received royal blue and white decorated care packages to match the color of her new school as well as welcoming her to the next chapter in her life.

“2016 is going to be my year,” she said. “I am so grateful to be a positive role model to young women who are working hard to further their education.”

 

LEGO competition builds interest in STEM programs nationwide

An international robotics tournament geared toward promoting students’ interest in science and technology called FIRST LEGO League is holding a regional tournament in Winter Haven, Florida. Over a thousand participants came to compete for a chance to compete at the national level.

Students and their parents came from eight different counties in the region. The teams are composed of students between the ages of nine and fourteen.

We-Cycle is a team of gifted fifth-graders from Ormond Beach, Florida, that exemplify the type of students who attended the tournament. The students’ intelligence and determination shows on the competition floor.

“The first part of the season, they practiced maybe once or twice a week, but before the regional championship they practiced every single day after school about three hours,” said Steve Waterman, We-Cycle’s coach.

The main event is the robotics competition of the tournament. Teams have a set number of missions to complete using robots they have built in order to receive points within two-and-a-half minutes.

Additionally, teams were required to conduct a project that helps to solve a problem. Many teams geared toward recycling trash or lowering pollution. We-Cycle, for example, took used plastic bags and wove them into consumer goods like purses and floor mats.

The program has great influence on the children participating. Lead Programmer for We-Cycle, Matthew Monroe has been greatly influenced since getting involved with the FIRST LEGO League.

“I want to be a programmer. I want to program computers, games, anything really” said Monroe.

We-Cycle did not advance to the next level, but Coach Waterman was selected for the Coach/Mentor of the Year Award.

Schoenfeld relieves with running

Running between the crowds of cheering families and friends at Epcot, Steven Schoenfeld kicked it into high gear as he approached the finish line, completing his second marathon this past January.

Schoenfeld, a sophomore at the University of South Florida, ran track competitively throughout high school, but was forced to stop before beginning college due to a minor knee injury which restricted his abilities.

With a desire to keep running, despite no longer competing, Schoenfeld signed up for a marathon and began to train himself.

“When I realized I couldn’t compete anymore, I just knew I had to do something that would keep me running,” said Schoenfeld. “Training for marathons gives me a reason to keep going and just makes me feel more connected to running.”

The marathon that Schoenfeld trains for is the Walt Disney World Marathon which is held every January. During this marathon, participants run 26.2 miles through all four Disney parks.

“I’ve been going to Disney all my life, so it’s awesome doing what I love at the parks I grew up going to,” said Schoenfeld. “It’s motivating seeing the different Disney characters cheering you on throughout the marathon.”

On top of training for marathons, Schoenfeld is an electrical engineering major at USF who is dedicated to his studies. He is also actively involved in band and Phi Mu Alpha, a social music fraternity.

“Ever since I can remember, I have been extremely involved in school,” said Schoenfeld.

Being involved in so many different activities and having a rigorous major tends to leave Schoenfeld feeling extremely stressed. Running is what Schoenfeld uses to disconnect from the strenuous lifestyle of academics and student life.

“There are days where I just know that I’ll be spending my night studying at the library,” said Schoenfeld. “I turn to running for stress relief because when I run, all I think about is the road ahead of me and not about any of my problems.”

When training for marathons, it is extremely crucial to have the support of both family and friends. Keegan Wertz, Schoenfeld’s little brother in Phi Mu Alpha, was extremely supportive during the training process and stood by to cheer Shcoenfeld during the marathon.

“I woke up at an ungodly hour of the morning to see Steven off on the day of his marathon and provide him with emotional support,” said Wertz. “I was also there to cheer him on from the sidelines as he crossed the finish line at Epcot. I couldn’t have been happier for him because I knew it was something he had been training and working extremely hard for.”

Schoenfeld also receives praise and respect for how well he manages to balance training, studying and staying involved.

His roommate, Justin Mouriz, has watched him grow as a person since he began college and admires his work ethic.

“The amount of work that Steven has put in for his marathons is unbelievable,” said Mouriz. “I can remember several days that he ran over 13 miles to keep his endurance up, and then took part in several activities for different organizations afterwards. All in all, Steven puts in a lot of work into all he does.”

School may be getting more rigorous and time consuming for Schoenfeld, but that is not stopping him from training for his next marathon in January 2017.

“It gets really hard to manage my time between training for a marathon and keeping up with school,” said Schoenfeld. “None of the struggles I go through before the marathon matter once I cross that finish line. It truly is the best feeling in the world.”

With the continued support of his friends and family, Schoenfeld eventually plans on running in a, iron man triathlon which consists of biking, swimming and running.

“Staying active is extremely important to me and I am always thinking of ways to challenge myself,” said Schoenfeld. “An iron man triathlon sounds like the ultimate challenge and I cannot wait to take that on.”

Study abroad but explore locally

This generation of “millennials” has a newfound urge to travel around the world. Wanderlust has been redefined and University of South Florida students have multiple opportunities to study abroad.

Dr. Rick Wilber, a mass communications professor, has been taking students to Ireland for the past two to three decades.

“There are a lot of wonderful places to go and a lot of great people to meet,” Wilber said. “It’s not surprising that this generation of students is taking advantage of the opportunity.”

The trip originally started off as backpacking through Scotland. But over the course of three to four years, Wilber says they started to spend more and more time in Ireland and less time in Scotland that it became the Ireland trip.

The new generation has many aspirations to travel the world but often forgets that there are many wonders in the great state of Florida. Stacie Aviles, a graduate student from USF, has become accustomed to taking any adventure she can fit into her busy schedule.

“I don’t think Florida gets a lot of credit for its nature,” Aviles said. “Lettuce Lake Park and Flatwoods Park are just two of many places students can go within a 10 minute drive.”

If there is one thing that Aviles wants her fellow millennials to remember, it is to steer away from the social media realm.

“Don’t spend so much time on your phones when you’re up there.” she said. “I know the views can be really breathtaking but just remember to take it all in for yourself.”

Dinosaurs in Motion

Gaming technology can open up a new realm of ideas and possibilities to those involved in gaming, computer engineering, and for other fields and occupations. MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, is the prime example of its technology by bringing dinosaurs to life with levers, pulleys and the Sony PlayStation controllers in their new exhibit “Dinosaurs in Motion.” 

Grayson Kamm, the communications director of MOSI, explained the concept of the mechanics of the way the dinosaurs are manipulated. 

“Controls can get more complex and machines can get more complex,” said Kamm. “So you start with a lever moving the T-Rex all the way up to a PlayStation video game controller, and getting that to work to where you’re using these controls to run electric motors to coordinate everything is not an easy task. 

It’s an interesting experience to everybody who visits MOSI, especially the employees who work at the exhibit. Stephen Shuey, a MOSI employee, has witnessed the visitors’ experiences and expressions with how the PlayStation controller controls the dinosaurs. 

“It’s like manual and game control both are fun,” Shuey said. 

This exhibit expands visitors imagination of what game controllers can do besides controlling something in a video game. Things like controlling robots, a crane, or anything in the real world.  

“By getting to think about new ideas, fresh ways to do different things, that’s what it’s all about at MOSI because the possibilities down the line are going to be totally different and totally endless,” Kamm said.

 

Poetry fights against black on black crime

 

Andrea Little and Hector Angus are not your typical college students. They are owners of a grocery store, 1 Apple Grocery.

The University of South Florida students put their money together to help a low-income neighborhood thrive in this “food desert.”

Phil Scott has been president of Black on Black Rhyme Tampa for the last three years.  The poetry troop is the longest running in the Tampa area.

The troop assembles every third Friday of every month at Joffrey’s Coffee House. Their aim is to help the people in the poorer side of the community be able to express themselves in a healthy way.

When asked, “is it worth it,” Phil Scott answers, “Undoubtedly. From the neighborhood that I come from, it’s vital to our survival as a community, in order to have these outlets for us”.

Located at the corner of 8th and 15th street in downtown Ybor, Joffrey’s Coffee House hosts the Black on Black Rhyme shows every third Friday of each month.

Phil Scott is FAMU graduate, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Music. He is currently the band director at Van Buren Middle School.

He says, “I didn’t choose Black on Black, Black on Black really chose me.  It was kinda like they just welcomed me with open arms”.

Black on Black Rhyme Tampa show times are available on the Tampa Bay Poetry page on Facebook. Be sure to check out there show this Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.

USF St. Pete celebrates 50 years of learning

St. Petersburg, Fla – It’s a semicentennial celebration and the proud colors are green and gold.  USF St. Pete campus is celebrating its 50th year of operation in 2015.

The campus kicked off the year’s celebration in June with a ceremony and street renaming. Those who attended the event included USF President Judy Genshaft, Regional Chancellor of USFSP Sophia Wisniewska, Mayor Rick Kriseman, students and alumni.

“It marks 50 years of extraordinary students, brilliant faculty and dedicated staff.” said Sudsy Tschiderer,  USF St. Petersburg Alumna. “It’s about our students that are here now and up to 50 years ago.”

The school campus has a rich history that lies with the students and the buildings on campus. The campus features three main colleges. The College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences and the Kate Tiedemann College of Business, which is currently being built.

Student life has grown over the years of the university’s operation. When first opened in 1965, the school welcomed 260 students bused in from local cities. The student body population has expanded to an average of 6,000 students per semester. Even with the expansion, USF St. Petersburg has a vast size difference compared to the Tampa campus.

“I love that the class sizes are a little bit smaller so the teachers are into their students.” said Nicole Ward, a USFSP student. “It’s definitely a more intimate setting that I need in a class.”

Through the remainder of the year USFSP will host several events and seminars reflecting on the anniversary.

“Since I’ve been at this campus there are so many things that I love and I’m so glad I’m here to participate in this special year.” said Tschiderer.

For more information on upcoming anniversary events and celebrations visit USFSP.org/50years

 

 

Students Escape Stress at USF Botanical Gardens

Located just steps from some of the most popular spots on the University of South Florida campus lies a hidden gem, the USF Botanical Gardens.

From whimsical plant displays and breathtaking views of the water to educational facilities, the gardens have been offering a wide variety of services to USF students for over three decades.

The gardens were established in 1969 and were used primarily as a research and education facility. Throughout the 1970’s the biology department was the only educational group to conduct research within the gardens.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980’s that the area was expanded, incorporating the palm garden, wetland forest and many of the other displays seen today. During this expansion period university staff aimed to create an area that all students could use. Garden Director Laurie Walker says that today almost every college utilizes the space.

“We have classes from the college of fine arts, arts and sciences and engineering,” Walker said.

However, as the gates opened to the public in the 1990’s the gardens shifted to incorporate aspects of relaxation and recreation.

“We also have picnic tables, benches, beautiful places to sit and relax and study or have lunch drawing in the public for a unique look at Florida’s natural beauty,” Walker said.

University of South Florida sophomore Mack Galdames says it is the perfect place for him to take a break from the stress of school work.

“I usually come out here by the lake and sometimes just stare or I’ll read a book or play guitar,” Galdames said. “It’s just a wonderful peaceful place. It’s isolated and it’s not isolated, it’s got a balance to it.”