USF

The HistoryMakers

Poet Maya Angelou, actress Ruby Dee and even President Barack Obama have something in common. They've all participated in The History Makers project--the country's largest African American collection of video interviews capturing the struggles and achievements of the black experience.Those 2,600 HistoryMakers videos have a new home--the Library of Congress.

It was 1985 when Henrietta Smith was the first African-American faculty member at the University of South Florida at the School of Library Science.  

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

When I asked Matt Knight, the Coordinator of the University of South Florida Library Special and Digital Collections, how many pieces are held in the archives of the USF Tampa Library – I mean, individual pieces: every book, every oral history, every single piece of minutiae in the dozens of separate, smaller compilations, I got this reply:

"Boy, I wish you didn’t ask me that question - I am not sure, I mean, it’s just…" he said, his voice tailing off with an exasperated sigh.

That’s because the total is most likely in the hundreds of thousands, if not the low seven figures.

So Knight and his fellow Special Collections Librarians Andy Huse and Melanie Griffin really had their work cut out for them when they had to pick just some of those items to put on display for the public at a recent event called “A Few of Our Favorite Things.”

Pool/Edmund D. Fountain / Tampa Bay Times

  It's taken University of South Florida researchers more than three years to provide one family with an answer they've been looking for, for more than 70 years.

The researchers uncovered remains from 55 unmarked graves on the grounds of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna last year.  DNA testing has identified one set as belonging to George Owen Smith, who's believed to have died at age 14 -- shortly after being sent to the Florida Panhandle school in 1940.

USF Anthropologist Christian Wells says Smith was the first body found, but was in the worst shape.

John Moore / Getty Images/courtesy NPR

If things had gone as planned, USF Department of Anthropology Associate Professor Heide Castañeda would have spent the last two months in Texas and Mexico on a pair of research projects. She was going to talk to "mixed status" families on both sides of the border - families who have both legal and undocumented immigrants living in the United States - as well as meet with immigrants returning to Mexico.

Instead, she arrived just as the world's attention turned to the increasing number of Central American migrants fleeing their homes for what they thought was the promised land of the U.S.

Castañeda talked to University Beat on WUSF 89.7 about her visits to Sinaloa, Mexico, and McAllen, Texas, and what she saw there.

Here are some highlights from that interview:

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

They're not raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, but the staff of USF Tampa Library's Special Collections is putting a few of their favorite things on display for the public for one day only.

According to Special Collections' librarian Andy Huse, the event, A Few of Our Favorite Things (Thursday, July 17 from 1-3 p.m.), allows he and his colleagues on the library's fourth floor to show off some of the most interesting objects, ranging from centuries-old spiritual texts and rare maps to Babylonian clay tablets and Victorian-era novels.


Associated Press

Federal prosecutors on Friday dropped all charges against former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, whose criminal contempt case had sat in limbo for five years in front of a skeptical judge.

Al-Arian had been a target of the Justice Department for more than a decade. He was initially charged with playing a leadership role in the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He ended up taking a plea bargain on greatly reduced charges after a jury failed to convict him following a lengthy trial.

The University of South Florida has donated 1.4 acres in downtown St. Petersburg to All Children’s Hospital for a “research, education and training facility” that would benefit pediatric care, the two organizations said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Even though she's relatively new to the research world, Crystina Bronk knows there's a not-so-complementary - but partially true - stereotype about her and her colleagues:

"We’re not ‘people-persons,’ like, you can’t have it all, right? You can’t be good at science and be good at talking to people!" said Bronk, a graduate student in the University of South Florida Cancer Biology Program.

It's funny how a little blueberry ale can change that.

USF News

Among the big winners in the 2014-15 state budget signed by Gov. Rick Scott on Monday is the University of South Florida, which picked up funding for a number of projects that still needed support.

According to USF News, all five of the university's top legislative priorities were met.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Ahmad Saadaldin and members of the group USF Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) thought that this time, they were going to be successful. For over a year, they've been working to change how the University of South Florida's $391 million endowment operates when it comes to politically sensitive areas, particularly in relation to Israel and Palestine.

USF Dept. of Anthropology

In April 2013, the decomposed remains of a woman were discovered behind a truck stop at I-75 and State Road 44 in Sumter County. Authorities there weren’t able to identify her, so they turned to Dr. Erin Kimmerle and the USF Forensic Anthropology Laboratory for help.

Combining a three-dimensional scan of the woman’s skull with photos from the scene and other details, Kimmerle says they were able to use Photoshop and put together a composite image of what the woman likely looked like.

"The more information that we can learn from the scene or autopsy helps inform us about those individual characteristics, for example, using her own glasses in the image," Kimmerle said at a press conference earlier this year. "But it’s really just based on skeletal anatomy and we hope that it will trigger someone's memory or bring new information to light."

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

It may be an understatement, but biomedical research is a big business.

The National Institutes of Health has an annual budget of around $30 billion, and since it provides most of the federal funding for research at universities and laboratories, it supports over 400,000 jobs across the country.

GradImages

In addition to the graduates honored during the University of South Florida's Spring Commencement Ceremonies, Dr. Stuart Silverman was singled out after almost half a century of service.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

The recent Spring Commencement Ceremonies at the University of South Florida were certainly big on numbers, according to this week's University Beat.

Over 6,400 hundred degrees were awarded at seven ceremonies - Five exercises were held at USF's Tampa campus, and one each at USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. It's the most degrees ever conferred in a single commencement by the USF System.

The University of South Florida is being asked to repay $6.5 million in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant money it claimed, The Tampa Tribune reports.

Candace Kaw

Twelve teams of students from eight Florida universities recently faced off at the Second Annual State of Florida Healthcare Innovation Competition to determine whose medical technology reigned supreme -- and the winners walked away with $10,000.

"The competition brings together collegiate healthcare innovators from across the state, and allows them an opportunity to pitch their innovation ideas, concepts, and products before a panel of qualified judges," said Dr. Michael Fountain, director for event co-sponsor, the University of South Florida Center for Entrepreneurship. "In addition to winning cash prizes, these innovations gain insight from these world-class experts to help them move their technologies forward."

A wide variety of products and ideas was pitched, from a Google Glass application for people with cognitive and physical disabilities to a grocery store chain that sells healthy food in low-income neighborhoods.

"I think it speaks, very clearly, to the breadth of what can be done in healthcare innovation, whether it starts out with an application all the way to a small molecule," Fountain added.

GradImages

In addition to the "to selfie or not to selfie" debate, there are a number of other stories making news at this weekend's University of South Florida Spring Commencement - including a family of graduates, a former migrant worker turned educator, and a USF professor whose voice is recognizable to thousand of alumni.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Is there a better way to handle the stress of final exams than by petting a miniature stallion?

Okay, it's not Wellness USF's entire plan to help students manage the fear of the last days of class, but Scooby Boo, a tiny 12 year-old horse (wearing USF green sneakers), is one of the organization's secret weapons to provide a break from the pressure.

If you're a University of South Florida student graduating next month and your plan is to take a selfie photo on stage, the University has one word for you: don't!

In a story that's receiving national attention, the USF Division of Student Affairs sent out a notice to all graduating seniors and placed an ad in the school newspaper, The Oracle, requesting that they don't take pictures of themselves when they receive their diplomas from President Judy Genshaft.

Also on the list of what's labeled as 'inappropriate behaviors' are stepping, strolling and marching. Just a simple handshake, pose for the official photo with the President and move on, please.

Violators may face disciplinary action, including the withholding of their degree.

USF News

In an honor for both the students and the school, three University of South Florida juniors have been named Barry M. Goldwater Scholars.

Not only are Michael Calzadilla, Kaitlin Deutsch and Fiona Kearns among the 238 students from across the country receiving the honor, they're also the only Goldwater Scholars this year in the State University System of Florida.

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