Faculty & Staff Resources

Faculty Student Stories

Caitlyn with Mentors

Caitlyn Coleman, Dr. Richard Pollenz, and Dr. Andrea Vianello

Caitlyn is majoring in Microbiology with a minor in Infection Control. She works on research in bioinformatics and plans to pursue a doctorate and a future career in science. She is a recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship.

Caitlyn found a mentor in Richard Pollenz, professor of cell and molecular biology at USF, when she was selected to USF’s HHMI SEA PHAGES program, which Pollenz led. SEA PHAGES is an undergraduate research program for beginning STEM majors where students isolate, characterize, amplify, and visualize a novel bacteriophage (viruses which infect bacteria). Each student who successfully isolates a phage also gets to name it. Pollenz opened more than the world of bioinformatics. He introduced her to the use of computers and codes to find patterns in genomes. It was his style of engaged and hands-on teaching that inspired Caitlyn to commit herself to teaching and mentorship in the future.

Caitlyn has also been engaged in a bioarcheology study with Andrea Vianello who has been at USF since 2020 as a research fellow in the Department of Anthropology. In this work, Caitlyn contributed first to literature review on proteomics and metabolomics and genomics in bioarcheology as a grounding to explore the drivers of the medieval pandemic otherwise known as the Black Death from bone samples curated from the Old Lazaret in Venice. Vianello has taught at the Judy Genshaft Honors College, and he too has welcomed Caitlyn to teach the sessions on proteomics in his course on ancient pandemics.

Willie and Marvin with Drone

Willie McClinton and Dr. Marvin Andujar

Willie McClinton majored in Computer Science and Engineering. While at USF, he focused on research in brain-computer interfaces (BCI) and artificial intelligence. Willie was awarded the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) and the Goldwater Scholarship. He is now in the Computer Science Ph.D. Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After returning from NIST-SURF, ONS Director Dr. Sayan Basu introduced Willie to Dr. Marvin Andujar. Willie obtained an undergraduate research position in Dr. Andujar’s Neuro-Machine Interaction Lab. He began his work there by leading development of a program that would allow users to paint in virtual reality (VR) using just their thoughts sent through a BCI.

The project was one part of a year-long collaboration between the computer science department, engineering professors, and Basu to help McClinton succeed in winning the Goldwater Scholarship.

Kayla and David

Kayla Rykiel and Dr. David Himmelgreen

Kayla Rykiel majored in Biomedical Sciences and Dance.Kayla wanted to change what it meant to be a ‘pre-med’ student by focusing not just on her grades, resume and medical school applications, but on making an impact on communities in need. After graduating, she worked in rural Alabama as part of a community health fellowship. The competitive program, offered by Project Horseshoe Farm, gives students the chance to help shape community health and contribute to a model for communities across the country.

Kayla was connected to Dr. David Himmelgreen through ONS because of their similar interests in alleviating food insecurity in Tampa Bay. They worked on community-based research projects together, including an anthropogical photo-voice project. Participants were given disposable cameras to take photos showing what it meant to be food insecure in Tampa.