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USF Singapore Urban Ecology
Alexander Mercier has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship program
Alex is the first Rhodes finalist from the University of South Florida and is also
a Marshall Scholarship finalist.
Alex is a USF Honors College student who has been working with IB faculty member Dr. Andrew Kramer for the past 3 years on using network mathematics to advance understanding of the spatial patterns of epidemics.
He hopes to continue pursuing those interests as a PhD student at Oxford University.
Kramer Lab Webiste
Dr. Ryan Carney receives the Outstanding Research Achievement Award, the largest internal recognition of its kind at USF. As stated in the following press release:
Dr. Carney leads two innovative research programs, one in paleontology and one in epidemiology. In 2020, he was PI of a newly-awarded NSF proposal for more than $900,000 to fight mosquito-borne diseases worldwide using artificial intelligence. A first- and senior-authored paleobiology publication in Scientific Reports on the iconic Archaeopteryx fossil feather received substantial international recognition, including from The New York Times, and ranked in the 99th percentile in global coverage by Altimetric. A second paper describing the automation of mosquito identification using AI, which is crucial to disease-control efforts, has already been cited multiple times. His collaborative research in 2020 resulted in two new invention disclosures with plans for multiple patents. Dr. Carney's dinosaur research was featured in National Geographic Magazine, National Geographic Learning's global curriculum, and three international outreach activities with total viewership of 150,000.
More recently, Dr. Carney and his students have launched a citizen science campaign to fight mosquito-borne diseases around the world using smartphones and AI, through collaborations with NASA and iNaturalist.
Two-year research positions for this mosquito-borne disease project are now available for a postdoc, masters, and undergraduate student. Interested individuals can find more information and submit their CVs at CarneyLab.org.
Dr. Carney's Archaeopteryx fossil feather research is also featured in the September 2021 issue of National Geographic Magazine.
Alex Kirk receives the Philip J Motta Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in Integrative Biology for 2020-21
The IB Graduate Admissions and Policy Committee presents Alex with this award for
his teaching in Digital Dinosaurs and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy.
Alex has gone above and beyond as a TA, particuarly meeting the challenges of the COVID pandemic head on. He has taken the lead in the lead in planning, filming, directing, editing, and/or narrating a collection of dissection lab videos produced by CVA TAs. Based on his work in Digital Dinosaurs, Alex was invited to cohost a workshop at an international conference, which led to him coauthoring a paper, now in review, on the pedagogical utility of virtual reality and augmented reality in the college classroom.
The nomination letter for Alex sums up his contributions well, "Alex is an exemplary TA who inspires the other TAs with his work ethic, dedication, and positive attitude. He has been a joy to work with, works well with the other TAs, and has truly been an asset to the courses. The students rave about him on evaluations every semester as well. Alex is extraordinarily caring and empathetic toward his students."
Thank you for the outstanding teaching, Alex, and congratulations!
USF Forest Preserve featured in a short documentary film
Located north of Fletcher Ave., the USF Forest Preserve protects over 600 acres of imperiled sandhill and wetland ecosystems and nearly two dozen endangered or threatened plant and animal species. On April 1st, 2021, the USF administration released a Request for Information for development proposals on the plot encompassing at least 118 acres of upland habitat. In response, three USF Integrative Biology graduate students – Jeannie Mounger, Christian Brown, and Stephen Hesterberg – founded Save USF Forest Preserve to oppose any measure that would diminish or destroy the ecosystems, Indigenous heritage sites, or educational opportunities within the Preserve, and to push for permanent protections on the land in the form of a conservation easement. They recently released a short documentary film, ‘Choke Point,’ created by recent USF MFA graduate Luke Myers, which follows the students as they work to highlight the importance of the USF Forest Preserve and fight to prevent its destruction.
More than 400 native plant species can be found within the USF Forest Preserve, along with an estimated 194 bird species, 31 reptile species, bobcats, otters, fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, and countless other wildlife. For decades, the Preserve has functioned as a core research facility and natural classroom for many departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. More than 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and 20 theses and dissertations have been published on research conducted within the Preserve. The property, along with the adjacent golf course, “The Claw,” and USF Riverfront Park, serves as a critical link in a wildlife corridor that joins the Cypress Creek floodplain to the Green Swamp. This land also contains sensitive Indigenous cultural and spiritual sites, including nine Native American historical sites and cemeteries.
NOAA features the work of former IB students
In a 3-part series, NOAA highlights some of the 125 projects they supported through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the socioeconomic benefits they have brought to coastal communities across the country. One of these projects, and the only one funded in the Tampa Bay area, was designed and implemented by the Ecosphere Restoration Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization led by Tom Ries, a former undergraduate student in the Biology Program at USF. The project involved the restoration of nearly 70 acres of wetlands in the Lost River Preserve through activities such as cleaning the area, removing exotic vegetation, planting native wetland species, and reconnecting the wetlands to the Tampa Bay waters, among others. In the article, NOAA also emphasizes how this funding was crucial in the career development of former graduate students at our Department, Dr. Jenny Hinton and Dr. Aaron Brown.
Sunset over Cockroach Bay - By Jeff Stark (Own work, Public Domain,
Research by Dr. Brad Gemmell featured in the New York Times and Discovery Channel
New research by Dr. Brad Gemmell (Tampa campus) on how Jellyfish swim has been featured in New York Times, check out the podcast/radio interview with an international broadcast based in Canada, soon to be featured on the Discovery Channel !
Study by Dr. Sean Doody featured in Science News
A new study lead by Dr. Sean Doody (St. Petersburg campus) and published in Ecology was featured in Science News. The study explores how other inhabitants of the monitor lizard’s habitat in Australia use its burrows. The invasive cane toad is depleting monitor lizard populations, and concern is rising that the toad invasion could affect other animals that use the lizard burrows.
NEWS FROM 2020
Dr. Heather Judkins receives the Outstanding Reserach Achievement Award
Congratulations to Meredith Krause!
Meredith is the recipient of the Philip J. Motta Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in Integrative Biology for 2019-20. The IB Graduate Admissions and Policy Committee is presenting Meredith with this award for her teaching in BSC 2011 Biological Diversity and BSC 4933 Learning Assistants for Biological Diversity.
Meredith has gone above and beyond as a teaching assistant during a course redesign and development of a new course. She has taken initiative and done outstanding work in all areas, including developing learning modules, contributing course content, recording high-quality presentations, giving technical help, deploying content online, and providing feedback on effectiveness of class activities. She also worked tirelessly to make the transition to online teaching due to COVID-19 as smooth as possible, something noted by students. Meredith's work has resulted in tangible learning gains for students.
Her nomination letter sums up her contributions nicely, "Meredith has had a positive impact on thousands of students through her work in BSC 2011 in the last two years, both through direct interactions with them and due to the work she has done to improve the course. She has been a great asset to the course and the department."
Thank you for the excellent teaching, Meredith, and congratulations!
Jessica Balerna, Christian Brown, and Jeannie Mounger receive the 2020 Tharp Summer Research Fellowships
Christian Brown receives the 2020 Mushinsky Award