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How one professor is challenging the way teachers approach the classroom Reducing Caregiver Burden Tourism Trends Cybersecurity Threat Response Next-Gen Research









USFSM plans an Integrated Science and Technology Complex.



Jody McBrien, PhD, advocates for future teachers to see the world through refugees’ eyes.



Jane Roberts, PhD, looks into the unique struggles facing caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.



Technology and automation are changing hospitality.



Entrepreneurial resilience can stabilize developing economies.



Researcher studies human toll on the environment.



Cyber forensics is the enemy of hackers.



Students dive into real-world risk assessment.



Faculty mentorship inspires experiential learning.



Students undertake meaningful research projects.



USFSM preps students for employers’ coveted skill set.



The spotlight shines on student research projects.










USFSM CAMPUS BOARD Byron E. Shinn, Chair Dr. Anila Jain Bill Mariotti Rick Piccolo REGIONAL CHANCELLOR Karen A. Holbrook, PhD REGIONAL VICE CHANCELLORS Eddie Beauchamp (Business and Financial Affairs) Brett Kemker, PhD (Academic Affairs and Student Success) Lee Williams, CFRE (Advancement) OFFICE OF RESEARCH Sandy Justice EDITORS John Dudley Shawn Ahearn Greg Smogard, PhD

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ART DIRECTION Krista Lee EDITORIAL BOARD Murat Haner, PhD, Co-Chair Melissa Sloan, PhD, Co-Chair Katerina Berezina, PhD Richard Borghesi, PhD Wilma Davidson, EdD Jennifer Mariano, PhD CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Deborah Bandy Melanie Bass Deborah Circelli Joseph Kays Morgan Richie Su Senapati, PhD Rich Shopes







elcome to Research: USFSM, our annual publication showcasing the University of South Florida SarasotaManatee’s expanding profile as a research-active institution where faculty and students actively engage in research in STEM fields, business, education, IT and cybersecurity, the arts, social sciences and hospitality and tourism. We are proud of our research successes during the past year, which include an annual doubling of proposal submissions, more than a 300 percent monetary increase in research awards and five research equipment grants. All are indicators of our commitment to produce research that matters to the education of the student, serves as an economic engine for the community and contributes solutions for some of our most challenging local and global problems. Last year marked our inaugural edition of Research: USFSM, and this latest issue offers insight into more of the great work by our faculty and 3


students, along with something new – a special pull-out section that tells the story of USFSM’s many community engagement initiatives and our valuable and growing partnerships across the Sarasota-Manatee region. Together, these two publications demonstrate USFSM’s unique role within the community as an institution that is part of a large, preeminent research university system, yet is small enough for students to collaborate with faculty on significant research activities. Our faculty arrive with diverse research backgrounds, often continuing their work from a previous institution. They develop research activity with colleagues at other institutions and with our graduate and undergraduate students. Our students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty as early as their freshman year and to build on those relationships throughout their academic careers. Their work is featured here, encompassing a broad range of issues: easing refugees’ transition into our country’s education system, meeting new challenges created by cyber criminals and cuttingedge technology emerging in hospitality and tourism, entrepreneurial resiliency in developing countries and human impact on climate change. We hope you find these stories about USFSM research discoveries interesting and enjoyable, and we invite you to engage with our incredible faculty and students.

Karen A. Holbrook, PhD Regional Chancellor, USF Sarasota-Manatee






egional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Success Brett E. Kemker, PhD, joined the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee in July 2018. He brings experience from a number of institutions as a tenured faculty member, accomplished researcher, department chair, dean, assistant provost and vice president. Kemker is committed to growing USFSM’s research infrastructure by creating and expanding opportunities for faculty and student research endeavors. He works in partnership with the Office of Research to support faculty as they pursue research and scholarship goals. USFSM faculty produce impactful results that inform and benefit the region, state and nation. He has helped lead USFSM through the USF System consolidation process, helped strengthen a sense of community and served as a champion for an academic community that cultivates an environment in which students join the research enterprise and faculty can pursue their scholarship. Kemker’s research background includes investigations of student persistence in higher education and the effects of auditory and visual stimuli on cognitive resource allocation, as well as a strong record of grant-writing with awards reaching into the millions. He has published and presented more than 100 original papers in top-tier journals and conferences worldwide.



andra Justice arrived at the University of South Florida SarasotaManatee in April 2017 to oversee the university’s newly-created Office of Research. She and Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook have a shared vision to build a robust research enterprise reflective of a global, preeminent institution at USFSM. Justice is creating infrastructure to support a solid, vibrant research enterprise that builds on the positive momentum generated by previous work in areas such as literacy, education, the health of Gulf coast waterways, terrorism, cybersecurity and aging. She works with sponsors and the Cross College Alliance to support specific campus initiatives, develops long-range grant proposals, assists faculty with funding requests and collaborates with professors on large, project-based grant applications. She is committed to supporting the research environment in alignment with USFSM’s vision for students to become global citizens through internships, workforce development and inquiry-based learning. Since arriving at USFSM, Justice has established internal awards, workshops focused on grant writing and compliance, research internships for students and faculty research talks, and has supported the annual Student Showcase for Projects, Research and Innovation. Before joining USFSM, she served in research roles with USF’s Center for Urban Transportation Research and College of Arts and Sciences and the Emory University School of Medicine.






“There is no sense designing something for today. You have to design for the future.� -Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, Regional Chancellor The proposed Integrated Science and Technology Complex (ISTC) will be much more than the center for STEM learning on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. It will be a catalyst for transformational experiences in and out of the classroom. Please visit to support this initiative.

We imagine a place where significant discoveries are conceived and where recent high school students, returning veterans and working adults prepare for new careers by working with first-class faculty in STEM programs integrated with business, humanities and social sciences. 5


The ISTC plan includes flexible lab space to promote hands-on learning, makerspace/discovery labs, social learning spaces for informal exchange and collaboration, reconfigurable classrooms, large-scale gathering spaces and glass walls to create a sense of openness, energy and vitality.

CLOSING THE GAP USFSM recognizes the vital role women play in the continued growth of STEM-based careers, where they are underrepresented despite comprising more than half the population. USFSM is helping to address this shortfall by creating Women in STEM, a committee made up of successful women who will serve as role models, mentors, advocates and fundraisers for the proposed new Integrated Science and Technology Complex. Women in STEM committee members will encourage girls and young women to pursue opportunities in STEM and support the development of ISTC to produce careerready science and technology graduates with the skills and knowledge to help businesses thrive.

An integrated STEM education requires highly specialized facilities to provide substantial programs that attract first-class students, faculty and research projects. Building plans call for a 75,000-square foot, multilevel complex with a price tag of $46.5 million. USFSM.EDU/RESEARCH




LANGUAGE By Joseph Kays


hen Jody McBrien, PhD, pursued her doctorate at Emory University in 2001, she came to fully appreciate how difficult refugees’

PHOTO Jody McBrien, PhD, works with volunteers at the Ritsona Refugee Camp in Greece.


lives could be. “I volunteered as a tutor at a refugee organization and quickly fell in love with the kids,” said McBrien, a full professor in the School of Education, with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Social Sciences. “Refugees are at their largest population since World War II. It is critically important that the world understands who they are and how to support them to become


contributing citizens in their new societies.” McBrien says it took time to gain the trust of refugees from war-torn areas. “Eventually, they started to tell me about their lives. Some of their background stories were devastating,” she said. “They also dealt with discrimination from some of their U.S. peers and teachers, particularly Muslim students.” McBrien has kept in touch with several of the students she worked with in Atlanta while at Emory and says she is inspired by their successes. “One of my research participants has her master’s in education from the University of

to return to New Zealand in 2019 to conduct an evaluation of the newly built Mangere Refugee Reception Centre. “Resettlement countries have similar challenges. We must learn from one another,” she said. “It’s important to consider successful programs so that we can compare and adapt best practices.” McBrien says language is always a major challenge for newcomers, something she learned first-hand while participating in a USF immersive Spanish program in Panama in 2008. “I wish all my students could have that opportunity because then they might realize that when their foreign students fall asleep in class, it’s because they’re exhausted from trying to understand English,” McBrien said. “In Florida, we have a tremendous number of immigrants, so teachers are always going to have these students in their classes. When teachers do not have courses and experiences in international cultures and languages, it’s more difficult for them to know how to support immigrant and refugee students. Unfortunately, the Florida Department of Education has eliminated required courses on social issues from teacher preparation programs.”

Georgia, and another has a medical research master’s from Vanderbilt,” she said. “Two others have undergraduate degrees in education. All are now American citizens.” Over the past 17 years, McBrien has visited nine countries to research and evaluate educational policies for refugees and identify best practices. She spent time in August 2018 at a Greek refugee camp, and in 2017 she was a visiting scholar at Sōka University in Japan. Her book, Educational Policies and Practices of English-Speaking Refugee Resettlement Countries, was released in June 2019. She was selected as a Fulbright Specialist and plans

Refugees are at their largest population since World War II. It is critically important that the world understands who they are and how to support them to become contributing citizens in their new societies. USFSM.EDU/RESEARCH


McBrien says New Zealand, where she was a policy fellow in 2014, “has a uniform, research-based, and successful English language program implemented throughout the country. Unfortunately, we do not have anything like it in the States, so we keep reinventing the wheel.” McBrien also helps her students appreciate the challenges of diversity by requiring them to participate in an activity that challenges their beliefs. For example, a student who identifies as a Democrat might go to a Republican meeting. A student who is monolingual might go to a Spanishspeaking restaurant. “I want my students to experience something outside of their beliefs and perspectives,” she said. “The vast majority respond that they had no idea about how the other side looks at things. They reflect increased empathy because of the experience.” In addition to her teaching and research, McBrien has been active in promoting refugee

PHOTO Jody McBrien, PhD, with children at the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana.



events at USFSM, such as last year’s World Refugee Day commemoration. “Our understanding of refugees and who they are is problematic,” McBrien said. “Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation, and many people have come to believe refugees are terrorists. In fact, refugees flee terrorism. Citizens need correct information about how much refugees appreciate resettlement in the United States to begin their lives anew, how hard-working they are, and how much they contribute to the U.S.” Another problematic belief is that conservatives are all against refugee resettlement. “This is just not true,” McBrien said. “The CATO Institute, a well-known conservative thinktank in the U.S., produced a highly researched analysis in 2016 examining murders caused by terrorists in the U.S. between 1975 and 2015, including 9/11. The research discovered that the chances of being killed by a refugee in the U.S. is one in 3.64 billion. By an undocumented immigrant, one in 10.9 billion per year. It is literally

I want my students to experience something outside of their beliefs and perspectives.

more likely that one will be killed by lightning than by a refugee or undocumented immigrant.” Marcia Willingham-Wines, a former adult education teacher and now high school English teacher in Manatee County, has seen her share of teen and adult students over the years who were “either brought here by an adult when they were children, or who fled their country of origin.” “I only wish there were more classes like Dr. McBrien’s due to the changing population teachers are encountering every year,” said Willingham-Wines, a USFSM graduate student. “The material in her classes serves as a solid foundation for a healthy appreciation of diversity.” Interdisciplinary social sciences student Yolanda Woody worked with McBrien on the World Refugee Day project and through The Global Society, an organization at USFSM dedicated to developing students as “global citizens in a globalizing world” and to raising global awareness. “Dr. McBrien is a wonderful professor who cares tremendously about her students,” said Woody, who took McBrien’s online international human rights course. “I joined the class because the subject of human rights interests me and I would love to work in that field following graduation.” McBrien says the administration at USFSM has been “incredibly supportive” of her work, underwriting some of her international travel and giving her the flexibility to pursue her research. Since joining the faculty at USF in 2005, she has produced over 40 research publications, with over 1,400 citations from international scholars. “In March 2019, I was surprised with an invitation by the Turkish government to pay my travel to Istanbul in April to consult about best educational practices for Syrian refugees,” she said. “Turkey currently resettles the largest number of refugees in the world. I was honored. My dean and chancellor are fully supportive.”




UNITED KINGDOM (65.6 MILLION BY THE END OF 2016) Statistics from World Economic Forum, June 2017







Statistics from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Florida Department of Children and Families



Caregiver Burden

By Deborah Circelli



atching caregivers early in her social work career struggling to take care of their loved ones left a lasting impression on Jane Roberts, ACSW, LCSW, PhD. Roberts, an instructor in the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, spent 25 years prior to joining academia in 1998 as a medical and psychiatric social worker providing outreach and counseling services to families through various hospice programs in both Florida and Virginia. “All of this opened my eyes to the need to continue to research best practices in helping (mostly older) caregivers to navigate this part of their lifelong challenges. And sometimes, with the closeness and sharing that can come with helping another person, to see even a bright spot or two in the caregiving process,” said Roberts, chair of the Duvall Family Studies Initiative in the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, which brings university-generated research findings to clinical social workers, mental health therapists, case managers and other workers in human services fields. Roberts, a licensed clinical social worker who is registered with the Academy of Certified Social Workers, has a doctorate in gerontology and has volunteered, organized and served on various hospice and other community service boards. She’s made it her life’s work to try to improve the lives of caregivers through continued research, including, most recently, caregivers of those with mid- to late-stage dementia. Her clinical and administrative career has included psychotherapy, hospice and hospital administration, and employment by the federal government as a health research scientist, where she coordinated the Virginia portion of a multi-state study of veterans with Alzheimer’s-type dementias. “Caregivers of dementia patients are uniquely faced with a frustrating and evolving set of behaviors that render their loved ones almost unrecognizable. Although there are few options

for alleviating the symptoms of dementia itself, reducing “caregiver burden” is perhaps the next best option,” said Roberts, who likes to engage in applied research where outcomes are readily applicable in people’s daily lives. Roberts has spent the past 6½ years studying and analyzing results from a recent collaborative study on caregivers of dementia patients in the Sarasota area, which has resulted in changes being implemented in Jewish Family and Children’s Service of the Suncoast’s ( JFCS) six-county region and all over the United States. Social workers and mental health professionals from hospitals to churches are reaching out for copies of the Community Practitioner Caregiver

Although there are few options for alleviating the symptoms of dementia itself, reducing ‘caregiver burden’ is perhaps the next best option.”

Guide – a 40-page booklet of tips and resources for caregivers that is a result of the research. The guide, which was developed in conjunction with Wilma Davidson, EdD, a Professional and Technical Communication instructor at USFSM, is helping to alleviate caregiver burden and anxieties and lessen the sense of isolation caregivers feel. Thousands of people have also been trained in caregiving and have attended informational workshops. Caregivers of adults with and without dementia, and even caregivers of children, have asked for the guide, which is distributed at no charge due to funding from the Duvall Family Studies Initiative. “USFSM has a real mission to be useful to the community,” said Roberts, who also teaches in the social work master’s program. “This research


is a prime example of that endeavor, and it is really a rewarding experience to see it touch people’s daily lives.” An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages were living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018, according to Alzheimer’s Association Facts & Figures. More than 15 million unpaid family, friends and neighbors provide care to those individuals. By the year 2050, more than 70 percent of Alzheimer’s patients will need caregiving at home. Through funding from the U.S. Administration on Aging and U.S. Department of Health and

and a second study evaluating the effectiveness of the outcomes ended in 2017. The research served as a demonstration model of human services and family practice with caregivers of dementia patients in Sarasota, one of the regions with the highest rates of elder population in the U.S. at 35 percent. The New York University Caregiver Intervention counseling and support intervention model was used, including various assessments, surveys and questionnaires. The model was based upon the work of Mary Mittelman, DrPH, a research professor from NYU School of Medicine, who consulted with Roberts on the implementation of her model. Roberts, who was the project’s designated researcher, evaluated data gathered from JFCS of the Suncoast’s records, meeting notes and staff conversations to determine the effectiveness of the agency’s interventions with caregivers of dementia patients. “Caregivers will often have a good deal of guilt because they are feeling angry at the care recipients, and then they feel bad about that,” Roberts said. “They still love the person, but it’s almost not the same person you used to AMERICANS LIVE WITH know.” ALZHEIMER’S DEMENTIA The study produced measurable outcomes showing FAMILY, FRIENDS AND that adding in-home services, NEIGHBORS PROVIDE CARE individual and group therapy by licensed clinicians, support Human Services, Roberts has analyzed and groups, ad hoc visits and telephone interviews conducted research data stemming from a as well as family social support were positive for demonstration project conducted with JFCS of the caregiving individuals. The addition of services Suncoast. significantly helped to alleviate or reduce caregiver The caregiver intervention study from 2011 burden and enhance the perception of support, as to 2015 looked at 213 families and the caregiver well as decrease isolation and feelings of despair. burden, caregiver depression, quality of life as Depression, for example, decreased 61 percent perceived by the caregiver and physical wellbeing among caregivers and understanding of dementia of the caregiver. Additional analysis also continued, increased by 71 percent.




Roberts has presented findings at conferences nationally and internationally. She presented her work at the American Society on Aging in New Orleans from April 15-18. Research collaborators Pamela Baron, MSW, and Cheryl Hamlin, LCSW, both of JFCS of the Suncoast, said the research, support groups and resource guide have been valuable. The collaboration with USFSM has resulted in the agency adding services and expanding support to caregivers. Baron said Roberts’ “extensive clinical skills proved to be invaluable in supporting staff as we faced complex family dynamics in coping with the challenges of living with Alzheimer’s disease.” Roberts’ research continues to examine ways to alleviate or improve depressive symptoms, social anxiety, traumatic incidents of flashbacks and other issues in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

STAGES OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE Since 2011, the National Institute on Aging and The Alzheimer’s Association have updated the recognized stages of Alzheimer’s disease to include only two: 1. MCI or Mild Cognitive Impairment Cognitive decline is greater than expected for the age and education level, but this decline does not significantly impair daily activities. 2. Dementia due to Alzheimer’s Disease Noticeable memory, thinking and behavioral symptoms that impair a person’s activities in daily life.

Jane Roberts, PhD (right)


540,000 Floridians 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease.

1,121,000 family caregivers bear

the burden of the disease in Florida. By 2025, the number of families directly impacted with providing care will increase by an estimated


Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association



Tourism Trends The University of South Florida SarasotaManatee College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership (CHTL) focuses on preparing students for careers in Florida’s booming hospitality and tourism industry. The college also fosters opportunities for faculty and students through the M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation to advance cutting-edge research in the global hospitality industry. Much of the research explores how emerging technology is shaping the business of hospitality, including former USFSM professor Katerina Berezina’s findings about internet-driven room discounts. In recent years, research projects have centered on how so-called “flash sales” influence customer


spending in the hotel space, how vacationers make decisions about selecting cruise providers and how age and gender factor into guests’ preferences for booking with a particular property. The work reflects the mission of the M3 Center, allowing USFSM to share with other universities and hospitality students groundbreaking educational technologies and learning tools in hotel accounting, property management systems and business intelligence software. The M3 Center is home to three academic journals, the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, the Journal of Global Business Insights and the Journal of Global Education and Research.



hen Katerina Berezina, PhD, began working as a travel agent in her native Russia during college, customers browsed vacation options by paging through giant catalogs where room prices and other options were locked in for the year. “But then we switched to seamless reservation systems, where we will be able to put everything online, and there was no need any more for the catalogs,” said Berezina. “That’s what fascinated me, because the way we worked completely changed.” The new technology compelled her to pursue a master’s degree in hospitality information management at the University of Delaware and then a doctorate in tourism at the University of Florida. Since then, Berezina has emerged as a leading thinker on methods for applying technology to the hospitality industry. Two papers that grew out of her doctoral research focused on how customers and hotel managers perceived the benefits and challenges of “flash sale” sites like Groupon. She interviewed 46 hotel managers from all different kinds of properties, from independent hotels to large chains. She also surveyed 358 hotel customers, including 100 patrons of flash sales. The chief concerns among hotel managers centered on how deeply the rooms were discounted and whether guests who booked through flash sale sites would spend less on other amenities once on the property. Her research demonstrated that it was advantageous for properties to accept discounted rates rather than allowing rooms to stand empty and that flash sales customers spend as much, if not more, than non-flash sales customers. Berezina remains affiliated with USFSM’s M3 Center, which partners with its namesake, M3, a leading hotel software company that provides finance and accounting products to nearly 5,000 hotels worldwide. The center has developed training modules for M3 software that provides CHTL students with the opportunity to learn through realworld systems they might use in the industry. “This partnership is a great contribution to education because it benefits our classes and helps

us to enhance the learning experience, and I think it has worked for the company as well,” Berezina said. Berezina says providing guests with the latest technologies and managing expectations on social media are among the biggest challenges for hotel operators today. “Being on Facebook, being on Instagram, is pretty much required, and it will also help you on TripAdvisor and other platforms, and you definitely have to address negative comments and

PHOTO Katerina Berezina, PhD, analyzes data using M3 software in her class at USFSM.


acknowledge positive comments,” she said, “so depending on the size of the hotel, they definitely will need people to help them with social media and digital experiences.” Berezina predicts ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence will continue to shape the hotel industry, including increased implementation of robots to perform repetitive functions. Not only do robots reduce personnel costs, Berezina’s research demonstrates that today’s younger customers are accustomed to dealing with machines. “When I ask my students if they prefer automation and being able to do things by themselves or interacting with the robots, some say that if they don’t have to talk to someone, they’re happy,” Berezina said. - Joseph Kays



he cruise industry sustains more than 1.1 million jobs globally, and according to the Cruise Lines International Association’s most recent state of the industry report, it will cater to nearly 30 million vacationers this year alone. University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee graduate Frida Bahja’s nearly year-long research into what motivates travelers to pick certain cruises and cruise lines potentially offers members of the growing industry tools vital to increasing their customer base. “I have always been intrigued by how different factors of tourism products influence the decision of vacationers. This becomes even more complex within the context of cruise vacations with several attributes and decisions to make,” said Bahja, Frida Bahja who arrived at USFSM in 17 RESEARCH: USFSM

2015 from her native Albania with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental engineering. “Hence, my thesis focused on not only evaluating the influencing factors on cruise vacationers, but it also explored the relative importance of these factors in comparison with each other.” In 2017, Bahja earned her master’s in hospitality management and presented her thesis, “Evaluating the Relative Importance of Influencing Factors on Cruise Vacations: A Conjoint Analysis,” with advisor Cihan Cobanoglu, PhD, and committee members Katerina Berezina, PhD, and Carolin Lusby, PhD, of Florida International University. The purpose of the study was to identify key influencing factors for vacationers when booking a cruise. Based on a review of literature, the study focused on the importance of six influential factors in cruise customers’ decision-making process: • • • • • •

Price Duration Distance from the cruise port Itineraries Environmental friendliness of the cruise line Online reviews

Responses from 450 cruise vacationers were analyzed using choice-based conjoint analysis methodology. The results revealed that online reviews were the most influential factor for cruise customers in their vacation decisions, followed closely by environmental friendliness of the cruise line, duration, distance, itinerary and price. The findings provide valuable insight into the tourism industry in terms of customer-determining values. Bahja’s research was recognized with a secondplace award in the USFSM Student Showcase for Projects, Research and Innovation, and she also received a merit scholarship to collect data for her subsequent research study. The research was featured as part of the journal Tourism Review, and Bahja presented her findings at the Southeastern Travel and Tourism Research Association’s annual conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2017; at the 2017 International Interdisciplinary BusinessEconomics Advancement Conference in Miami; and at the 15th World Leisure Congress in Sao

Paulo, Brazil, in 2018. She currently is pursuing doctoral studies in hospitality management at the University of Central Florida, focusing her research on sustainable tourism and green practices in the hospitality industry. She also serves as a research assistant in the UCF National Center for Integrated Coastal Research. - Melanie Bass



or Vanja Bogicevic, USFSM’s commitment to student research was a deciding factor in where she would attend college in the United States – and, ultimately, it changed her career path. “Research support is one of the reasons I chose USFSM for my master’s degree,” said Bogicevic, who already held master’s and undergraduate degrees in architecture and urban planning from her native Serbia when she arrived at USFSM in 2012. In collaboration with faculty advisors Cihan Cobanoglu, PhD, and Wan Yang, PhD, Bogicevic undertook multiple award-winning research projects while at USFSM. Those projects focused on the role of design in hospitality environments such as hotels and airports, as well as service quality in the air transport industry. Her 2014 study, “The Moderating Effect of Demographics on the Relationship between Hotel Room Design Characteristics and Purchase Intent,” examined how age and gender affect hotel guests’ preferences and their decision to stay at a particular property. In addition to receiving national media attention, it also earned the “Best Paper Award” at the 19th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism in Houston. While at USFSM, she also published a manuscript and presented five conference papers. After earning her master’s in hospitality management, she presented at national and

Having the chance to work as a research assistant with USFSM faculty was a game changer for my academic career and personal growth.”

-Vanja Bogicevic, PhD

international conferences and published five more papers in academic journals based on research projects she began while a student at USFSM. In 2018, she obtained her doctorate in consumer sciences from The Ohio State University, where she is now a visiting assistant professor in Vanja Bogicevic, PhD the Department of Human Sciences. “Until I had started my master’s studies at USFSM, I never considered an academic career,” said Bogicevic, who leads the Virtual Reality Laboratory in the OSU Department of Human Sciences. “My experience at USFSM introduced me to academic research, conferences and scholarship. It determined my career path toward pursuing a PhD and becoming a researcher at a U.S. academic institution.” - Melanie Bass




Examining resilience of entrepreneurs in developing countries could help stabilize economies worldwide PHOTO L-R: Jean Kabongo, PhD and Thomas Becker, PhD


ntrepreneurs in developing countries experience increasingly chaotic environments influenced by political and social upheaval. They also face psychological hurdles created by unique challenges such as uncertain customer demand, fluctuating markets, economic instability and regulations. One such region, sub-Saharan Africa, is the focus of a new project by USF SarasotaManatee researchers Jean Kabongo, PhD, and Thomas Becker, PhD. Their work, “Resilience of Entrepreneurs in Developing Economies: Implications for Regional and Organizational Effectiveness,” begins this fall. The study builds on their previous expertise, including Kabongo’s experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2017. Supported through funding from the World Bank, he helped smallscale farmers develop their entrepreneurial activities, moving from traditional means to more industrial production for palm oil, cassava and rice. The consultative work examined how


entrepreneurs in poor areas can generate greater income and accumulate greater assets to reduce poverty and build the foundations for sustainable economic development. Through his work on employee commitment, motivation and job performance and productivity, Becker helped improve the conception of resilience profiles in management literature. In Becker and Ferry (2016), he presented and discussed the 10 facets of resilience: resistance, point of decline, rate of descent, depth of descent, length of depth, point of ascent, rate of ascent, height of return, length of peak and length of episode. Building on that work, Kabongo and Becker plan a longitudinal study of 200 African entrepreneurs in Ghana, South Africa and Uganda to support most of the hypotheses: • Entrepreneurial resilience is particularly relevant in such economies and is a key moderator of the effects of adversity on entrepreneurs’ psychological states. • When faced with adversity, highly resilient


entrepreneurs are less likely to experience negative emotions and counterproductive cognitive appraisals, and more likely to experience positive emotions, adaptive coping and enhanced commitment. • As a result, even under adverse circumstances, highly resilient entrepreneurs tend to grow their ventures and contribute to the prosperity of their regions.

“These findings will underscore the importance of educating and supporting entrepreneurs in developing economies and of fostering resilience among those willing to embrace entrepreneurial pursuits,” Kabongo said. The researchers define entrepreneurial resilience as the capacity of people who start businesses to demonstrate concrete, positive adaptation to adversity. It’s not to be confused with causes such as psychological traits like self-esteem or emotional stability, social factors like family support, or effects such as the entrepreneur’s health, firm survival and growth, or the prosperity of the regions in which entrepreneurs work. Yet, little documented research exists to clearly outline theories or solutions for such variables in the region. In particular, initial inquiry reveals highlevel and significant adversity confronting African entrepreneurs facing the usual challenges of starting and growing a business in highly adverse and, at times, unstable environments. “We expect the research to provide a reason for competitive proposals aimed at sustaining the trajectory of the work. We’re especially interested in applying the findings widely across Africa and other regions of the world,” Becker said. “Another outcome could be the creation of policy implications and implementation key to strengthening the economic infrastructure for developing countries.” The researchers plan to include students from USFSM and their African colleagues’ institutions. Kabongo, an associate professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship, earned USFSM’s Outstanding Professor award in Fall 2015, Fall and Spring 2016, and Spring 2018. His recent research focuses on the analysis and promotion of sustainable practices in organizations, sustainable entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship








in developing countries. Since 2017, he has joined The World Bank Group in working with smallscale farmers in Congo. An industrial-organizational psychologist and professor of management who was recently named interim dean of the College of Business, Becker has received numerous distinctions for his work with employee commitment, research methods and statistics, motivation, job performance and productivity, and is interested in individual and organizational resilience. He received the USFSM Excellence in Research Award in Spring 2018 and has worked with prominent healthcare, government, military, corporate, manufacturing and service organizations to improve individual and organizational effectiveness. Becker and Kabongo are writing a chapter on the resilience of entrepreneurs in developing economies to be published this year in the Handbook of Organizational Resilience. Their goal is to develop a model that addresses gaps in knowledge, particularly in developing countries. Their primary research was preceded by a pilot study earlier this year, with findings expected by Spring 2020. - Melanie Bass

ABOVE Countries that exhibit greater instances of entrepreneurial resilience benefit from a variety of positive economic indicators.




CHART Statistical sources:, *excluding Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania


hen Feng Hao, PhD, was a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, a field trip to a damaged coal-mining town crystallized his academic pursuit: researching social behavior that would lead to the protection of Earth’s environment. Hao, now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, recalls how “the polluted, gray mining town lacked energy,” and the scarred landscape made apparent the devastating effects of poor land stewardship. Thus, he began a journey aimed at understanding the human behaviors and attitudes that lead to environmental degradation. Hao completed a master’s thesis on the Kentucky coal miners before initiating further research into human impact 28% on the global OTHER environment. In a 2018 article 2% published in the CANADA academic journal Social Currents, 4% Hao and his co-authors JAPAN draw comparisons 6% between the kinds and RUSSIAN degrees of environmental FEDERATION 6% concern among people INDIA in the United States and China. Using general social surveys to gather data, he found that while “the Chinese report higher environmental concern when measured as environmental sacrifice and perceived dangers”-


such as air pollution and smog-Americans display “a greater frequency of pro-environmental behaviors.” Since finding solutions to environmental problems requires a consolidated global effort, Hao makes a point of collaborating with local and international scholars in his research. He collaborated with USFSM faculty Melissa Sloan, PhD, Michael Snipes, PhD, and Jay Michaels, PhD, and Chinese scholars Xinsheng Liu of Texas A&M University, Yan Wang of Nankai University, Weiwei Huang of New College of Florida and Guizhen He of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in his latest research. Currently, Hao explains, his research examines “the interactions between human society and the natural environment to assess anthropogenic CHINA environmental impact and public opinion on climate change.” In another 2018 article published in the Journal of UNITED Environmental and Sciences, STATES Studies Hao and his coauthors compare the connections between economic growth and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in China and the United States, the countries 13% with the highest levels of CO2 EU-27* emissions. His research suggests that, when economic growth is measured by GDP per capita income, there is a clear connection between economic growth and escalating CO2 emissions, adding that such clear connections become



PHOTO Feng Hao, PhD, challenged his environmental policy class with assessing the environmental impact of commuters along a stretch of I-75 between Sarasota and Tampa.

“relatively decoupled” over time. “CO2 emissions is the primary greenhouse gas that has led to climate change,” Hao said. “The growing economy has contributed to CO2 emissions because of carbon-intensive production and consumption. In order to reduce the climate change impact, it is critical to find a sustainable approach to developing the economy while also protecting the environment. Increasing the deployment of renewable energy is one effective option, and promoting public concern about the environment might be another option.” Conversely, coastal states and provinces with higher GDP per capita income release less CO2 into the atmosphere. Additionally, his finding showed Democratic states in the U.S. tend to emit less CO2 than Republican states. Such findings, Hao says, require larger and contextual analysis. Hao believes in preparing students to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century. While teaching environmental policy during the summer of 2018, he encouraged students

to use the policies discussed in class to assess the environmental impact by commuters using the stretch of Interstate 75 between Tampa and Sarasota. He reports being impressed with his students’ creative solutions in assessing and addressing this environmental issue. Among them: • Implement a toll system and use proceeds for environmental protection efforts. • Build a light rail system to reduce automobile traffic through the corridor. • Encourage companies to adjust fixed working hours.

Hao regularly teaches courses in environmental policy and environmental sociology as he continues research into the impact of human behavior on the environment. Bolstered by a USF New Researcher’s Grant, Hao has recruited two undergraduate students, Daniel Hinkle and Ron Hans, to work alongside him in researching changes in local residents’ behavior towards the environment in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. - Su Senapati, PhD


Threat Response An approach focused on cyber forensics coupled with graduates better prepared to tackle cybersecurity challenges is the best hope for getting ahead of hackers.



The demand for cyber forensics professionals trained to combat hackers continues to grow. The International Information System Security Certification Consortium reports that the global cybersecurity workforce gap has reached 13,000 unfilled openings in Florida as of December 2018. Likewise, emerging cyber forensics technology is helping government agencies and private firms identify and assist in responding to cyber-based threats. USF Sarasota-Manatee has responded to this demand through the creation of a Cybersecurity and Information Technology program offered 100 percent online and by encouraging faculty research into related issues. Two USFSM professors, Ehsan Sheybani, PhD, and Giti Javidi, PhD, are conducting research on cyber forensics and cybersecurity workforce demand, respectively. Their work underscores the ongoing need for more highly-qualified graduates prepared to seek cutting-edge solutions to challenges that threaten to compromise personal data, financial systems and other highly-sensitive information.



ueled by rapid growth in cybersecurity professions, academia and the public and private sectors are working to develop agile programs to meet industry needs. USFSM Associate Professor of Information Technology and Cybersecurity Giti Javidi, PhD, cites data from the Clearwater-based nonprofit Center for Cyber Safety and Education that projects the cybersecurity workforce gap will reach 1.8 million by 2022. Meanwhile, worldwide cybercrime will cost individuals, corporations, institutions and governments $6 trillion each year. “The workforce shortage in cybersecurity is a serious issue which will have profound implications for national, economic and personal security,” Javidi said. “As the idea of cybersecurity expands, universities will try to expand the pool of cybersecurity talent to narrow the workforce gap, and companies will look for professionals with technical and multidisciplinary skills.” However, she believes cybersecurity programs at the K-12 level and in higher education are not mature enough to produce industry-ready professionals as rapidly as cybersecurity needs them. To bridge the gap, Javidi believes both shortand long-term solutions are required. In the short term, she advocates temporarily training existing IT professionals to help fill

Giti Javidi, PhD, believes that digital training must begin early. USFSM.EDU/RESEARCH 24

high-risk cybersecurity positions. Longer term, she suggests creating strategies to inspire and train the next generation of professionals with technical expertise and cybersecurity skills. To meet everincreasing workforce demands, cybersecurity awareness, education and training must begin early, Javidi added. She agrees with many cybersecurity experts who believe that the people responsible for managing systems designed to prevent hacks and data breaches often are, in fact, the weakest link in the security chain. If they are not adequately trained, they can make mistakes capable of undermining even the most sophisticated systems. Consequently, enhanced awareness and behavior modifications are essential to creating the “human firewall” that will effectively turn “weak” human links into strong security partners, she said. Javidi added that the first and most important step will be to increase behavior-focused cybersecurity education programs built around the three core concepts of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology: • “Awareness” - as cognizance of security threats and knowledge of response mechanisms • “Training” - as the teaching of skills needed to tackle security issues • “Education” - as a combination of all of these skills, along with holistic understanding of concepts, risks and remediation of cyber threats Hence, Javidi has focused on devising a holistic approach (see graphic this page) to create evidencebased cybersecurity awareness and training programs for K-12 parents, teachers and students. The objective is to develop scalable and adaptive resources, curricula and activities that enable schools to teach cybersecurity using well-researched methods.


With the support of grants she has received, Javidi is collaborating with colleagues and industry partners to develop an effective “Cybersecurity Community of Practice” that will provide a safe platform to exchange resources and ideas about cybersecurity. Her innovative and holistic approach to meeting cybersecurity challenges and efforts to inspire women to join Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields earned her 2017 Women of Influence Award and USF’s 2018 Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Award. - Su Senapati, PhD



ecent cyber-attacks on the Marriott hotel chain and credit-reporting agency Equifax exposed the personal data of a combined nearly 600 million people, heightening awareness of what has become a serious issue for individuals, businesses, institutions and government entities. A research project by USFSM Associate Professor of Information Systems and Decision Science Ehsan Sheybani, PhD, “Cyber Forensics and Crime,” is tackling what the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently designated a government-wide, immediate high-risk area due to increasing cyber-based threats and the persistent nature of security vulnerabilities. Cyber forensics is the key to this approach, according to Sheybani. The technology encompasses recovery and investigation of e-data and information found on websites and in databases, mobile phones and other sources. Armed with that data, it utilizes highly specialized tools and techniques to trace the origin of cyber-attacks and to identify breaches of information security, industrial espionage and identity and financial fraud.

ROBOTICS AS A TEACHING TOOL Ehsan Sheybani, PhD, uses robots in research, as classroom teaching tools and in funded projects to train and educate elementary- and high-school-aged students about STEM fields.

A University of Maryland study released in 2017 found that computers experienced attempted cyber-attacks every 39 seconds. According to the Mountain View, California-based internet security firm Symantec, cyber criminals execute 130 largescale, targeted breaches per year, while 24,000 malicious mobile apps are blocked each day. “The cyber forensics science landscape is evolving rapidly as digital and cyber-attacks become more frequent,” Sheybani said. “The past few years of my employment at USF have coincided with one of the most important periods in U.S. history during which our nation and government have been the target of many cybersecurity attacks and threats. These attacks have affected the lives, finances and well-being of so many of us. I came to the realization that I can combine some of my skills with those of my colleagues to come up with solutions that can help our nation.” USFSM.EDU/RESEARCH 26

Phase one of the research, scheduled to launch this year, encompasses designing and building a database and mobile forensic lab system with forensics tools, experiments, tutorials, videos and case studies. The second phase includes development of virtualized cyber forensic resource management accessible by institutional departments, other State University System of Florida institutions, as well as the Florida Center for Cybersecurity (Cyber Florida) based at USF, partners and affiliates to allow collaborative training and workforce development in immersive, realworld and closed exercise environments. Because cybercrime differs from traditional crime, creating strategies to reduce or eliminate it presents unique challenges, such as: • The variety and vast amount of data stored in databases and mobile devices • The number of mobile transactions on a daily basis • The absence of standard practices and guidelines for analyzing data • The absence of a qualified workforce in sufficient numbers to perform investigations • The lack of capacity and resources to provide ongoing training

Those challenges inform and guide the research

conducted by Sheybani, who collaborates with other faculty and graduate students on projects that will help prepare students to enter the workforce equipped to identify and eliminate cyber threats. “Now it’s a role of a cyber forensic expert to bring cybercriminals to justice,” Sheybani said. “Researching and establishing effective cyber forensics tools to detect and prevent malware attacks are important aspects of cybersecurity. So, our effort has been to train the future workforce with hands-on experiences that make us stronger against cyber-attacks of this kind.” Last year, USF’s College of Engineering in Tampa announced a new major in cybersecurity. This offering joined existing certificate programs and master’s degree programs in cybersecurity and cybercrime. USF, thanks to Cyber Florida, is uniquely positioning the university as a statewide and national leader in the field. Sheybani and his fellow researchers view that as another opportunity. “We are proposing an online, hands-on lab for malware detection and prevention,” Sheybani said. “This will allow USF and other universities to take advantage of our project.” Up next for Sheybani is continued cyber-related research, including K-12 education and awareness in addition to creating highly-needed educational modules. - Melanie Bass

2018 by the Numbers COST OF CYBER CRIME










1. Economic Impact of Cybercrime, McAffee 2. Cybercrime: The Guardian; Norton Cyber Security Insights Report












1. UK House of Lords Digital Skills Committee 2. Burning Glass Job Market Intelligence: Cybersecurity Jobs, 2015 3. 2015 ISACA Risk/Reward Barometer Consumer Study, September 2015 4. State of Cybersecurity: Implications for 2015


EVALUATING PHOTO L-R: Students Sami Araboghli and Paige Morrison thank their mentor Luke Bencie, founder and managing director of Security Management International.



wo USF Sarasota-Manatee students have received a unique learning opportunity through a partnership with a Washington, D.C.-based consultant. Security Management International (SMI), which provides intelligence and security services for Fortune 500 companies, defense contractors and government agencies, recently invited interdisciplinary social science majors Sami Araboghli and Paige Morrison to complete an internship and mentoring exercise. Araboghli and Morrison attended a crash course in assessing risks and vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. The two spent five days in Vienna, Virginia, training on a decisionmaking strategy known as CARVER (Criticality, Accessibility, Recuperability, Vulnerability, Effect and Recognizability). Created in the 1970s by CIA counterterrorism officials, CARVER is used by intelligence officers, special ops teams and risk-management professionals to assess and rank vulnerabilities and risks to infrastructure such as railroad stations, power plants, shopping malls and government offices. In addition to attending classes, the students performed “target analysis” as part of a field exercise and gave presentations about the experience. Campus officials hope exercises like this lead to a broader


relationship with SMI. “I thought it was definitely interesting because I haven’t had that kind of experience in the security field and it helped me to understand how to go about analyzing security threats,” said Morrison, a senior. “They had many experts there, and it was interesting to see how widely these techniques are used by different organizations.” Morrison and Araboghli are considering security- or intelligence-related careers. Their experiences at SMI offered them a glimpse into a world few encounter. They attended classes alongside security and intelligence professionals from the U.S. Navy, the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission and the Orlando SWAT team. In one exercise, they helped assess security risks at a shopping mall and Metro train station just outside Washington. They evaluated strengths and vulnerabilities, then delivered a report about possible ways to attack and cripple the targets along with strategies to make them safer. SMI founder and managing director Luke Bencie, a former intelligence officer, was impressed with their work. “SMI has been offering national security students from Georgetown, George Washington and other D.C.-based universities free seats in the

CARVER course for almost a decade,” he said. “Sami and Paige definitely held their own and proudly represented USF. We would welcome back students of their caliber any day.” The two received travel grants from USFSM’s Veterans and Military Success Center and USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy.

security profile, checking for weaknesses, and helped draft a report based on the DID YOU KNOW team’s findings. Luke Bencie is the author of three other related books: “It was very hands on, and that’s what I enjoyed most while was at SMI• Among Enemies: helping with the assessments,” he said of Counter-Espionage for the internship. “The job involves critical the Business Traveler thinking and thinking outside the box • Global Security to identify strategies Consulting: How to improve safety and to Build a Thriving security.” International Practice Araboghli also • The Clandestine collaborated with Bencie Consultant: Kings, on an article about the Sheiks, Warlords and CARVER system for the Dictators Harvard Business Review. The author of The CARVER Target Analysis and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology, Bencie developed the article to show executives how CARVER can help with key strategic decisions. The article, “A 6-Part Tool for Ranking and Assessing Risks,” came out in September. Araboghli described working with Bencie on the article as one of his proudest achievements. Based on his experiences with Araboghli and Morrison, Bencie said he’s looking forward to working with more USFSM students. “Paige and Sami have set the bar for all the other USF students who will come after them,” he GRAPHIC said. “They really took pride in representing their Courtesy of SMI university. Similarly, I cannot say enough about the The CARVER decisionstaff and faculty at USF who supported the students, making strategy uses as they were instrumental in assisting with logistics, the six factors below travel expenses and other resources. It was an allto assess and rank around Bulls team effort.” vulnerabilities and risks to infrastructure. - Rich Shopes

Paige and Sami have set the bar for all the other USF students who will come after them.”

Jay Riley, director of business outreach and engagement at USFSM, said the trip was a unique experience and a valuable networking opportunity. “The work of Luke Bencie and SMI is helping to make our nation safer,” Riley said. “Their work, and the importance of security overall, cannot be underestimated. We are fortunate and grateful to partner with SMI. Internship programs and training courses like this one help our students succeed both in the classroom and the job market.” Araboghli previously completed a six-week summer internship with SMI, a first for a USFSM student. He focused on learning about CARVER and applying the strategy to real-life security assessments. He said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience, which included a visit to a company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to perform a threat and vulnerability assessment. Araboghli reviewed the company’s




TOP USFSM biology students at the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, summer 2016. BOTTOM One of the yellow banded poison dart frogs Edie Banner, PhD, keeps in her classroom for observation.



s a researcher and interdisciplinary chemist, Edie Banner, PhD, has delved into Costa Rica’s rainforests to unearth natural products with medicinal properties. She has analyzed the chemistry of poison dart frogs, ultimately developing an efficient method to synthesize complex alkaloids for use as therapeutic agents. Her true passion lies in leveraging that research experience with her role as a biology and chemistry instructor at USFSM through mentoring students. “I had a major turning point in my own career


after a study abroad experience in the rainforest as an undergraduate and was inspired by teachers who helped guide me in pursuing my newfound interests,” Banner said. “I enjoy getting to know my students and their career goals and guiding them toward those goals through research projects that they develop on their own.” Named USFSM’s Outstanding Professor in Spring 2017, Banner integrates experiential learning into courses and provides independent research opportunities for students. Not only does she strive to guide students in formulating questions, developing research methods, conducting investigations and communicating results, she also taps into their desire to engage in hands-on experiences, inquirybased learning and community engagement. Since joining USFSM in 2014, Banner has developed a collaborative course, “Medicines of the Rainforest,” which includes a service learning

component with students volunteering at The Florida House Institute gardens. She also developed a study abroad program – “Field Research Experience Abroad – Costa Rica!” – in which students spend two weeks at biological research stations developing a pilot project on a topic of their interest. Upon their return, they use their preliminary studies to prepare a research proposal and present pilot projects at USFSM’s Student Showcase for Projects, Research and Innovation. Recent topics include bromeliads as tadpole rearing sites, bioluminescent fungi, caterpillar/host plant relationships and terrestrial gastropods. One such project directly connecting students with research is the monitoring and research program in the USFSM Gopher Tortoise Conservation Area. Banner recognized the potential for the six-acre habitat to serve as an on-campus resource ripe for more thorough monitoring and student-led projects. And, more importantly, she saw its potential to demonstrate how such research experience would interest her students while creating a larger impact on the species that reside there. “Gopher tortoises are a keystone species and are really critical in the ecology of the habitat,” Banner said. “If you remove them, there is a cascading loss of hundreds of commensal species that inhabit gopher tortoise burrows. We cannot take any one species for granted because the ecosystem needs to stay in balance. That’s why it’s so important to monitor this habitat to watch for changes that may destroy that balance.” Under Banner’s advisement, students map and monitor the number of gopher tortoise burrows, commensals that reside in the burrows, tortoise health, availability of forage plants and identification and removal of invasive plants. “Through mentoring, I hope to empower students to contribute directly to the greater understanding of this threatened keystone species and its habitat right here on their own campus,” Banner said. “The goal is that they could one day take these skills and experiences into their careers and inspire and mentor others.” Upcoming projects for Banner and her students include examining antibacterial properties in flowering plants, the chemical characteristics

TOP Edie Banner, PhD, examines the gopher tortoise burrows on campus with her students.

of tortoise forage plants and the presence of endangered plants that also reside in the habitat. “Throughout these research experiences I have watched my students build upon their critical thinking skills and develop confidence in their approaches to achieving their career goals,” she said. “Seeing their reaction when they get accepted into grad school, medical school or a research position is incredibly rewarding, and that is why I do what I do.”

LEFT A young gopher tortoise on USFSM’s campus.

- Morgan Richie USFSM.EDU/RESEARCH 32



Students enroll at USFSM at freshman, transfer or graduate levels.

2. COLLABORATION 3. EXPERIENCE Students engage with worldclass faculty, community leaders and a network of alumni and fellow students.

Fully Engaged 33 RESEARCH: USFSM

Students get hands-on experience with research projects, internships, field work and mentorship.


Students’ work may gain recognition, such as national conference presentations or publications.

STUDENT SUCCESS USFSM STUDENTS EXPLORE BLOCKCHAIN, MOSQUITOES AND MORE From risk assessment to field work in Costa Rica, USF Sarasota-Manatee students undertake meaningful research projects that enrich their academic experience and help position them for success after graduation.

surprises and each one was entirely unique,” McClure said. “As I was Students earn their conducting research, it became clear that degrees and may pursue there are so many threads that could master’s, professional or lead to entirely new projects, but you doctoral degrees. must take things one step at a time and manage what you already have on your plate.” Graduates enter their The first research project career field and lead McClure conducted was “Factors of lives of impact in the Unemployment” with faculty advisor community. Michael Snipes, PhD. The statisticsbased analysis centered on factors contributing to unemployment in the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. His findings were presented at the 2016 USFSM Student Showcase for Projects, Research and Innovation. McClure then moved to a continuation of projects USFSM faculty advisor Aparna Telang, PhD, had previously completed that focused on the microbiota of the Southern House Mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus. The project’s underlying intent was to identify potential bacterial mutualists present in this variety of mosquito, which could potentially lead to a method of controlling mosquito populations. The year-long study began in Spring 2017, and McClure learned techniques such as mosquito rearing ALEXANDER MCCLURE: A BROAD and dissection, and ultimately improved his RESEARCH EXPERIENCE working understanding of s an undergraduate at USFSM, biology polymerase chain reaction and QIIME (Qualitative Insights student Alexander McClure was not into Microbial Ecology) satisfied with undertaking just one for analysis of the variety of research project. Instead, he completed bacteria present. three. The work led to a Before graduating in December with a bachelor’s in biology and minor in applied statistics, paper, “Metagenome and Culture-Based Methods McClure explored wide-ranging topics such as Reveal Candidate Bacterial statistics-based economics, the microbiota of Mutualists in the Southern mosquitoes and analytic factors affecting natural House Mosquito (Diptera: water sources in Costa Rica. Culicidae),” that was published “Each of my research projects has had many




Alexander McClure


in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Also in 2017, McClure studied distinct water sources in two rainforests in Costa Rica as part of the Research Abroad program with chemistry and biology instructor Edie Banner, PhD. There, he collected water from sources including rivers, streams and ponds in the rainforest and performed analysis on each sample. As a result, McClure in 2018 created an outline for a potential community outreach activity targeting middle- or high-school-aged students to analyze local water sources. The research experience

and support from USFSM faculty during his undergraduate career inspired him to pursue medically-oriented research. “I was always learning new things during my research projects,” McClure said. “At every turn there was something new, either expanding on previously obtained information, improving on techniques or finding something entirely new. The professors I worked with were amazing. They were always able to provide aid, support, advice and instruction in the face of the more difficult challenges.”



racie Myers’ undergraduate research provided her with the tools to directly impact the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Her goal? To create a sustainable economic system for a utility (cryptocurrency) token. Myers graduated in Fall 2018 with a bachelor’s in information technology and a concentration in project management. Data mining drew her into the blockchain community, from which her interest evolved into researching cryptoeconomics, the science of designing protocols that govern the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services in a decentralized digital economy. She is now a cryptoeconomics data analyst with Pocket Network, a Tampa-area based company offering decentralized infrastructure to build on any blockchain. According to Pocket Lead Blockchain Developer and USF alum Andrew Nguyen, the company relays data requests and responses to and from any blockchain system. Pocket verifies all relayed data and proportionally rewards the participating nodes with native cryptographic tokens called POKT. This cryptographic utility token is given as a reward to nodes for work done and good behavior. Developers stake POKT to use the Pocket network to relay data requests and responses to and 35 RESEARCH: USFSM

from any blockchain. While at USFSM, Myers launched her own blockchain consulting and project management agency, TM Analytics, and delved into in-depth research on utility tokens with the support of faculty advisors Sunita Lodwig, PhD, and Bhuvanesh Unhelkar, PhD. She continues that research today and utilizes it in her role at Pocket Network, where she performs quantitative analysis on the token model and recently led the writing of its standards. A go-live date for the network is scheduled for early 2020. “The token model is unique as there is no cap and virtually no ‘cost’ to use the network,” Myers said. “Users will stake (pledge) tokens to use the infrastructure and can later un-stake and have their tokens returned. The unique challenge of this is to predict behavior based on rewards, penalties and price of the token.” The biggest challenge, Myers said, is human behavior. “The entire utility token system can be created based on numbers and math, but how someone will act based on different variables – rewards, penalties and price of the token – is interesting.” - Melanie Bass Tracie Myers


Critical Thinking


ncredi-Bull Critical Thinking (IBCT) is a university-wide initiative designed to enhance students’ critical thinking skills for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). In November 2014, university leadership consulted with faculty, staff, students and community partners to analyze student learning assessment data. Critical thinking emerged as having the greatest potential to support USFSM’s mission to prepare students to become “successful leaders and responsible citizens.” One of the faculty consulted was Michael Gillespie, PhD, associate professor of psychology, who joined USFSM in 2011. Critical thinking was the focus of Gillespie’s doctoral dissertation, and it helped him develop, measure and evaluate Bowling Green State University’s own program. When USFSM selected critical thinking as its QEP topic for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Gillespie became the program’s director. Students were involved in developing the QEP’s name, logo and the plan itself. “One of the most important things we learn in higher education – or education in general – is how to think. So, focusing on critical thinking is of fundamental importance to me,” Gillespie said. “There are so many excellent examples of critical thinking gone right – and wrong – in the media, politics, etcetera. I enjoy helping to equip our students with the skills, dispositions and resources needed to carefully evaluate the constant stimuli they are bombarded with on a daily basis, and make informed decisions in their personal and work lives.” The IBCT model is built on The Foundation of Critical Thinking, a guide developed by Richard Paul and Linda Elder. IBCT is interdisciplinary, cutting across colleges and majors, which increases the transfer of learning into novel contexts such as employment and graduate school. By providing opportunities to synthesize multidisciplinary


backgrounds, the model facilitates CRITICAL THINKING creativity and drives innovation. The OUTCOMES: solid theoretical basis strengthens IBCT’s applied value and provides a • Formulate vital questions foundation for future research. and problems clearly Student outcomes and learning • Gather and assess are primarily assessed by two relevant information methods: a rubric developed to • Identify relevant measure outcomes across a variety assumptions, alternatives of courses; and the Watson-Glaser and implications Critical Thinking Assessment, the • Develop well-reasoned standardized assessment commonly conclusions and solutions used by employers. • Communicate reasoning “There is a strong research effectively basis for the selection of our critical thinking topic, the model we selected and assessments,” Gillespie said. “It is of the utmost importance in higher education, with the ability to solve problems and make decisions being the most valued quality by employers – often more valued than an applicant’s major.” Faculty collaborate with academic program peers to support students’ development of critical thinking skills through experiences and assignments from freshman level through capstone projects. Now in its third year, IBCT has surpassed initial goals with more than 30 courses taught by nearly two dozen faculty, mini-grants to instructors and marked improvement of students’ critical thinking. “We’ve shattered operational targets, showing that our faculty are excited about the program and are rising to meet student demand for critical thinking skills and certification,” Gillespie said. Future goals for IBCT include extending certification to students at other USF campuses and expanding to community businesses. - Melanie Bass



TOP Students Camye Dudovitz and Liz Fowler with faculty mentors Marie Byrd, PhD, and Helene Robinson, PhD. RIGHT Co-chair Jenna Luque, PhD, announces student winners. BOTTOM A group photo after the 2018-2019 Student Showcase.



he University of South Florida SarasotaManatee recognizes the outstanding work of its students each spring during the annual Student Showcase for Projects, Innovation and Research. “The Showcase is an excellent opportunity for students to develop and practice skills they will continue to use long after they graduate-whether in further academic study or in their chosen professions,” said Assistant Professor of English Tim Turner, PhD, who co-chaired the 2018-19 Showcase along with Communications Sciences and Disorders Instructor Jenna Luque, PhD. “It also testifies to the strong tradition of research at USFSM as well as the commitment of our excellent faculty to extending the horizons of knowledge and instilling in these students a sense of the importance of discovery and contributing to the community at large,” Turner added.




Graduate, Liberal Arts: • 1st place – Molly Nevius, “Swings of the Pendulum: Why Lee Krasner Matters”

Behavioral Sciences: • 1st place – Alana L. Fleischer, Lea DeWeerd and Kathleen O’Grady, “Age and Sex Defendant Bias” • 2nd place – Brittiny M. Haralson, “Impact of Race and Class on Attitudes Toward Gun Control and Police Force” • 3rd place – Carolyn Herrera, “Conservatism, Religiosity and the Investment Model”

Graduate, Social Sciences: • 1st place – Alexandra M. Fleck, “The Benefits of Long-Term Treatment for Sex-Trafficking Victims” Undergraduate, Health Sciences: • 1st place – Tiffany PitreZampol, “Smartphone Usage and Perceived Social Communication Competence” Undergraduate, Liberal Arts: • 1st place – Madison Touchton, “He’s Lost His Colour Very Far from Here: Comparing Portraits of Great War Soldiers in the Poetry of Brooke, Sassoon and Owen” Undergraduate, Natural Sciences: • 1st place – Ron Hans, “The Effect of Salinity on the Cannibalistic Behavior of Juvenile Common Snook, Centropomus undecimalis” Undergraduate, Social Sciences: • 1st place – Sofia A. Paschero, “Conflicts with Inner and Outer Identities: Of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Recipients” • 2nd place – Anya Louise Staton Pardy, “Building Safer Harbors in Florida: Survivor Conversations of Shelter and Aftercare for Female Foster Sex Trafficked Youth” • 3rd place – Daniel Hinkle and Ron Hans, “A Study of Climate Change Perception and Political Resistance to Climate Action among Sarasota Residents after Experiencing Hurricane Irma”

Creative Works: • 1st place – Liz Fowler, “The Patroness of Sarasota” Education Research: • 1st place – Camye Dudovitz, “Arts Integration in Manatee County Schools” • 2nd place – Brittany Lynn Pacifico, “The Impact of Arts Integration on the Gifted and Talented Student” Natural Sciences: • 1st place – Jovana Hoti, “Increased Growth Rate and Replicative Lifespan of Saccharomyces cerevisiae when Exposed to Volatile Organic Compounds Emitted by Bacteria” • 2nd place – Madison Koch, “Comparative Analyses of Mitogenomes from Various Ligia Isopod Species” • 3rd place – Leena Bouhamid, Courtney Gostkowski and Isabella Hetherington, “Effects of Larval Nutritional Ecology on Selected Life History Traits of West Nile Virus Vector Culex quinquefasciatus”



Q&As Jason Krywko


What are you doing now? Currently I am working in two different positions. My father and I co-own a company called Sleek Audio that fits and creates custom in-ear earphones for professional athletes, bands and large churches. Athletes like them because they allow them to relax and detach from their environment. Additionally, I have taken a position with the University of Florida’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. I help place engineers in a sevencounty area around Florida’s Suncoast.

What motivated you to become involved in undergraduate research? When we were starting Sleek Audio, we really didn’t understand the market size and potential. I wasn’t sure how to properly research, analyze and plan a go-to-market strategy. With the help of Robert Anderson (PhD, former Dean of USFSM’s College of Business) and my professors, we were able to establish a course of study and create a model to see if it was a viable project. In 2006, when I started, no one had heard of inear headphones. Today, it is a $21 billion industry. We were the first company to offer wireless in-ear headphones to the consumer. That was in 2008. We also were the first to sell headphones with tunable acoustics to fit different listening preferences. Had I not researched industry trends and learned what the “Big Box” vendors were seeking, we would never


have been so successful. The information from my research also helped us to secure a $500,000 SBA loan.

Do you feel that the skills you gained at USFSM benefited you in graduate school/your career? Absolutely, I am still very involved with USFSM and have created tremendous relationships. By working with a smaller campus and having direct access to my professors, I was able to bounce ideas off of them, and I still use those connections to better our business and the community.

Do you have any advice for students? Follow your dreams, but listen to others who have suggestions. It may seem like the world’s greatest idea, but you need validation from other than family and friends. Research is critical in today’s market, and understanding your competitors and market potential is necessary for success.

Amelia Foxwell USFSM ‘11, PSYCHOLOGY

What are you doing now? Three years ago, I opened an applied behavioral analysis program for children with autism spectrum disorder in Stevensville, Md., now called the Sweet Bay Magnolia Academy. Since then, my agency has added tutoring, a school and day care that are all behaviorally focused. We currently are running a research project to develop and test a more appropriate standardized IQ-type test for children with autism and other developmental disorders. I initially became interested in this field after taking a part-time position at a school for children with autism in 2001. I worked with a group of four 2-year olds and realized that the approaches and foundations to successfully facilitating children with autism made sense to me and became second nature.

What motivated you to become involved in research? Research has always been a passion of mine. At USF Sarasota-Manatee, the faculty and their research projects inspired me to further pursue research involvement both at USFSM and in my career.

Do you feel that the skills you gained at USFSM benefited you in graduate school/your career?

statistics and how to read research pages for many of my graduate courses. My time as a student ambassador for USFSM greatly increased my ability to make relevant connections with colleagues and other professionals as well. I was a member of both the Ambassadors program and the crew team. Watching Jay Riley, the staff advisor for both, interact with alumni and students paved the way for me to have positive mentoring relationships.

Do you have any advice for students? My advice is to just keep going. Show up and ask for help when you need it. Life is full of wins and losses. The trick is to see the losses as lessons learned instead.

I do feel that the professors and the school prepared me for my graduate studies. They inspired me to pursue research and always encouraged me in my studies. I gained a strong understanding of USFSM.EDU/RESEARCH 40




Cassandra Yacovazzi, PhD - Escaped Nuns: AntiCatholicism and the Campaign Against Convents in Antebellum America


assandra Yacovazzi, PhD, was exploring antiCatholic bias in 19th-Century America when she noticed references to self-described escaped nun Maria Monk, who penned a scathing attack on consecrated life. A huge success, selling more than 300,000 copies in pre-Civil War America, Monk’s book spawned dozens of equally derisive imitations – even though it turned out Monk was a fraud who never lived as a nun in a convent or otherwise. “The campaign against convents in antebellum America was a far-reaching movement, as popular as abolitionism, the common school movement, urban reform and antiMormonism,” said Yacovazzi, a USFSM assistant history professor. “While anti-Catholic and nativist impulses propelled this campaign in part, nuns’ nonconformity to female gender norms of true womanhood—their rejection of marriage, motherhood and ideals of domesticity—rendered them conspicuous targets of attack among the vanguards of accepted behavior.”

James Unnever, PhD - Building a Black Criminology: Race, Theory and Crime


o-edited by Shaun L. Gabbidon, PhD, and Cecilia Chouhy, PhD, Professor of Criminology James Unnever’s book challenges prevailing theories arguing that all racial and ethnic groups commit crimes for the exact same reasons. “What we are saying is the mainstream theories are invalid because they negate the influence of systemic racism on African-American offenders,” he said. Instead, racism should be at the forefront when explaining crime among African-Americans because of its sweeping effect across generations of blacks. “The assumption of Black Criminology is that if blacks never experienced any sort of racism, their likelihood of committing a crime would be equal to that of whites,” said Unnever, a USFSM criminologist. Unnever and his co-editors spent 18 months on the 408-page book, which includes contributions from 21 other criminologists.


Jody L. McBrien, EdD - Educational Policies and Practices of English-Speaking Refugee Resettlement Countries


ebate over migration often focuses on refugees and asylum seekers while ignoring the thousands of children not included in the decision to leave their homelands. Jody L. McBrien, PhD, examines the academic challenges created by this issue from the perspective of six Englishspeaking refugee resettlement countries in her new book. A professor of education at USF Sarasota-Manatee, McBrien’s book examines resettlement efforts in the United States and five other countries amid increasing migration. In 2018, UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, estimated the number of displaced people at a record 68.5 million worldwide. “Our hope is not only to compare challenges, but also to describe successes by which teachers and policymakers can consider new approaches to help refugee and asylum-seeking children,” McBrien said. “Policymakers, teachers, social service providers and the general public need to understand ways to help resettled refugees become productive members in their new countries of residence.”

Wilma Davidson, EdD - Business Writing: What Works, What Won’t


ilma Davidson’s how-to guide has amassed tens of thousands of sales in North America, but it came as a surprise when Taiwan-based Heliopolis Culture Group suggested bringing the work to Chinese booksellers. Intrigued by a huge, untapped market, Davidson and her publisher readily agreed. With the first copies rolling off the presses last spring, the USFSM instructor of professional and technical writing can now affirm her work has been published in Chinese. “Of course, I was honored and thrilled that they approached us for international rights,” Davidson said. “They told us they wanted to offer it to people in the business world, so they can benefit from the ideas in the book on how to compose effective business correspondence.” Sales in the Asian market will depend on promotion and how the book is mass-marketed there. Already, nearly 50,000 copies of her three editions have sold in North America, with a digital version available as well. - Rich Shopes


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Profile for USFSarasota-Manatee

Research: USFSM | Volume 2 | Spring 2019  

Research: USFSM is the official research magazine of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

Research: USFSM | Volume 2 | Spring 2019  

Research: USFSM is the official research magazine of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.


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