Faculty Engagement


Dr. Christian Wells


When Dr. Wells identified the abandoned properties contaminated with dangerous chemicals in the University area, he sought to take action. Dr. Wells began assessing the distressed properties around USF known as “Brownfields,” then developed a plan to re-purpose the areas overwhelmed with contamination and environmental pollution. Dr. Wells collaborated with the University Area Community Development Corporation (UACDC) to recognize Brownfields along with other community partners to develop a plan for redevelopment. Dr. Wells recently received the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award, the 2018 Faculty Outstanding Research Achievement Award, the 2018 Outstanding Community-Engaged Teaching Award, and the 2017 Global Achievement Award for Outstanding Global Student Success from the University of South Florida.

Dr. Catherine Wilkins
Museum Art/St. Pete


Dr. Wilkins developed the ‘How to Make History’ course, which represents a collaboration with the St. Pete Beach Public Library (SPBPL) and the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum (GBHM). She developed the course when she learned about roof damage and flooding suffered by the GBHM during Hurricane Irma. To help remedy this situation, Dr. Wilkins designed a class in which students learn how history is recorded, stored and shared. She fully embraced an experiential learning model, supervising students as they practiced recording oral histories, producing documentary photography, digitizing visual and print artifacts, cataloguing and contributing to an online historical archive.

Dr. Jonathan Gaines
Curriculum re-writing


Dr. Gaines, Mechanical Engineering faculty, has received formal training in Community Engaged Learning, subsequently re-writing the curriculum for his team. Dr. Gaines coordinates USF's creative thinking based first year engineering design course around problem-based learning. He also has revitalized his department's lab based courses around experiential learning and National Instruments hardware and software. In addition, Dr. Gaines developed student-centered curriculum with training in course gamification, cultural competency, and leadership development. He also promotes the incorporation of makerspaces in formal and informal educational settings as a founding committee member for the USF Design for X Lab. This lab provides undergraduate students with access to 3D printer and laser cutter technology to promote student projects.

Dr. Rebecca Burns
Mort Elementary School


Dr. Burns, College of Education Associate Professor co-created the Mort Teacher Leader Academy, a unique clinically centered program designed to develop teacher leaders for urban schools. Dr. Burns’ research examines the clinical pedagogy used in clinical experiences, roles needed to ratify clinically based education for teachers in partnerships between university-community collaboration, and how supervision in these partnerships promote necessary leadership skills to preserve the schools and the college of education. “The Teacher Leader Academy at Mort Elementary is a true exemplar of how schools and universities can partner in robust ways to make a difference in the lives of children. It is an honor to work alongside Hillsborough County Public Schools and the Mort community to improve the learning experience for all students. We are truly better together.” –Dr. Rebecca Burns


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