Friday, April 30, 2021

Cindy Linh Lu: Toxicity of Oxybenzone on Environmental Microbes Research


In the semesters of Summer 2020- Spring 2021, seven female undergraduate STEM students and three professionals investigated the potential environmental impacts of chemical ultraviolent filter found in sunscreens and other personal care product. To calculate the average loading rate of chemical UV filters in SWFL beaches, surveys were taken at the beaches to identify the average amount of sunscreen used, how often it is applied, and most used sunscreen and factors it is selected. This research caught many people’s attention, even showing on Wink News story (shown below) and making the school’s newsletter.

                This was an amazing learning experience that taught me so much. By working closely with my mentor, Dr. Redfern, I was fostered and guided on this research project, in which I pursued grant writing and learned how to do further research.


The goal in the lab is to investigate the potential toxicity of oxybenzone on certain environmental microbes. In the lab, I have created the stock: one with oxybenzone, one without, and one with sunscreen (3% avobenzone) with oxybenzone. After the stock was autoclaved, the microbes were constantly fed and monitored for the growth rate over time. These results will help us better to understand and further characterize the environmental impact associated with oxybenzone.

While the research is still in progress, I have gained so much knowledge in the span of one year as an undergrad student. Dr. Redfern’s guidance has helped me in so many ways by building my critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as my confidence. Working with her and so many other students has given me life-changing experience in the lab, research, and surveying. As a future engineer, this research opportunity transformed my perspective and insight on what I would like to do in the future as I continue my education and career. I am eager to continue this research and learn more of the opportunities Florida Gulf Coast University has to offer.




Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The State of Journalism - Interview with Professor Judd Cribbs

Professor Cribbs worked as a reporter for 25 years before coming to FGCU to teach journalism back in 2010. In his time in the field, he has seen it all. While in the last several years, the feelings of animosity towards the media as a whole seem to have taken center stage in much of the discourse around politics, Cribbs experienced it for much of his professional career.

“I used to encounter people who were angry at me. Told me to go home, you know? That I was a vulture, a scumbag. This happened long before it became kind of a national conversation.”

These types of encounters were all too common for Cribbs, whether he was reporting on a disturbance at a bar involving college students, or a car crash involving teenagers. Confrontations from those involved always sprang up, often out of the fear of misrepresenting what really happened or painting them in a bad light.

“A lot of times we are shining spotlights on people who have done things that would be considered embarrassing or humiliating to them or their family. People don’t really like that.” Other times, the story might be about the absolute worst moment of a person’s life. “I did a story once on a young boy who went missing and ultimately died. We had to go talk to the family about what happened. To their credit, they invited me in, talked about their departed son, and were just the most gracious, loving people.”

Often, journalists go into negative situations like these, and being the outsider, people’s guards are instinctively up. They are on heightened alert to the possibility that an outsider will come in and try to dig up dirt that will make their reality even worse, rather than focus on the good that a journalist can do by informing the community.

“I don’t know that that ever goes away. People are looking for that kind of stuff.”

Cribbs mentioned how in most of his confrontations, where a person approached him with hostility about his reporting of the news, the root of the problem was often a lack of understanding of the journalistic process. Cribbs recalled how many times someone would call him after one of his stories was published, and how these callers would complain that his stories were inaccurate. But each time, Cribbs would have an honest conversation with them, and explain each step he went through to gather the facts, talk to sources, check public records, etc.

“Nearly every time that I would have these one-on-one conversations with people, they would understand what I did, and by the end of the conversation they would be less hostile. I think it calms them, to just know that I did go through a process and I didn’t just throw it out there. Some people are surprised that there’s such an editorial process.”

Monday, February 22, 2021

FGCU’s Center for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

 Last summer, after the horrific and problematic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, FGCU President Mike Martin responded to the subsequent protests calling for social justice, stating: “A fundamental value of FGCU is an unambiguous commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and a firm resolve to address racism, bigotry and intolerance on our campus and beyond. Recent events across the nation have reminded us yet again that we must exhibit our values through action.”  

During this time FGCU created a Task Force that could examine what steps were needed for the institution to more closely embody its stated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The task force focused on issues like increasing the number of faculty and staff of color at the university and increasing consciousness through events on topics such as bias, racism, microaggressions, environmental racism, voter suppression, dating, and domestic violence. One of the Task Force members, Dr. Ted Thornhill, was ready with another initiative - establishing a center that would add to the academic structure of the university and enable us to address race and ethnic issues from a research standpoint. 


A few years ago, Dr. Thornhill made news when FGCU first offered a course titled “White Racism.” The course offering received a lot of attention, with national and international news organizations reaching out to Dr. Thornhill for interviews on what was seen as a “controversial” course and name. Thornhill typically teaches courses on the sociology of African Americans, social class inequality, white racism, and racism and law enforcement. His research has examined how color-blind ideology and organizational policies and practices promote racial inequality, particularly in K-12 and higher education, the labor market, and the criminal justice system. 


Moving forward with this initiative, FGCU appointed the sociology professor to be the Director of the newly formed Center for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. The term “Critical” in the Center’s name is an academic label that refers to an analysis of the systems of power, privilege, domination, and resistance that affect racial and ethnic groups. Dr. Thornhill was intentional about including the term in the name, as it lets the community know that the Center has a focus on academic discourse and scholarly pursuits, aiming to do more than supporting peaceful protests or collecting data for sterile demographic analyses that are devoid of politics. 


The Center for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies aims to advance racial justice within communities and organizations in (and beyond) Southwest Florida. The Center seeks to advance its vision by drawing together an intellectual community made up of a multidisciplinary group of FGCU faculty, students, and community members committed to the critical study of race and ethnicity in the US and globally. Its aim is to promote and support research, dialogue, collaboration, and community engagement focused on advancing racial equity. This could include studies on voter suppression, indigenous communities, undocumented immigrants, and undoing the systems of oppression built into our society. 

 Although the Center for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies is currently led by one person, the Center’s Director, plans for expansion are already underway. Dr. Thornhill has been meeting with FGCU faculty that conduct race-related research, assembling a coalition of faculty affiliates focused on race and ethnicity, racism, and immigration from an academic perspective. So far, the Center has ten faculty affiliates, covering the disciplines and fields of literature, Latin American & Caribbean studies, foreign language, migration studies, sociology, history, multicultural education, and social work. Soon the Center will also have a physical location that students and community members can go to, located on the fourth floor of the library. A combination study and community space is being planned and constructed at the top floor of the Bradshaw G. Wilson Library, which the Center’s Director hopes will turn into a collaborative space that can provide a venue for research, book clubs, workshops, discussions, and lectures. This space is set to open sometime in the Fall 2021 semester. 


Dr. Thornhill also seeks to make race and ethnic research opportunities more available to students; the Center is currently piloting an Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, where the Center’s faculty affiliates work with students on faculty-mentored research projects. Dr. Thornhill plans to expand the program in upcoming semesters to faculty at-large. 


For the Center for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies to exist as an organization at FGCU sends a powerful statement about the university’s commitment and foci. As Dr. Thornhill explained in an interview for this Scholarly Newsletter, for individuals who are non-white, seeing certain words - like “white supremacy,” “critical race studies,” “white racism,” or “Black Lives Matter” - can have a powerful impact that can validate our lived reality. Establishing a Center like this is an important way that FGCU can address these issues with academic expertise, give voice to students and faculty, and help the campus community appreciate the reality of these issues.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Learning and Earning with WiSER Eagles

 By: Dahlya Byrne

Florida Gulf coast University (FGCU) is a four-year, public research university located in Fort Myers, Florida, with an estimated 15,000 enrolled students (  A primary goal at FGCU is to encourage and develop new methods of learning. One program that exemplifies this practice is the WiSER Eagles program in the Office of Undergraduate Scholarship.  Created in 2018 with a pilot group of ten students, there are now more than 60 WiSER Eagle positions available to undergraduate students (Personal communication Jaclyn Chastain, 17 February 2020).  I became aware that the program is not well known when I talked to my classmates about the different activities I was able to participate in.  Since I have benefitted greatly from this program, I thought writing an article spotlighting current and past participants would introduce other students to WiSER Eagle and give them a chance to participate. 

The intent of the program is to provide opportunities for students to experience valuable research skills by offering them an opportunity to participate in faculty driven research in a variety of disciplines in a group setting.  Students gain valuable technical skills while strengthening their interpersonal and professional skills.  Students are surrounded by like-minded individuals and mentored by dedicated professionals passionate about research and educating students. WiSER Eagle positions are available across the disciplines and in a wide range of settings from Engineering, Environmental Sciences to Rehabilitation. Additionally, the WiSER Eagles provides academic stipends to individual students, allowing them to work up to 10 hours per week at an hourly rate of $9.50. Students who continue to participate after the first year become eligible for pay raises. 

I was hired to work as a Student Research Assistant for Dr. Brigitte Belanger, an assistant professor in the Occupational Therapy program at FGCU in the fall of 2019.  I continue to work in this capacity.  My position involves multiple roles.  At times I have been an event planner coordinating, planning and participating in our FGCU Student Veterans’ Golf Event where we raise $15,000 for Scholarships and programs.  I am a member of the Veterans’ Support Committee (VSC) and attend monthly board meetings where I’ve learned to take notes for minutes and prepare agendas. I work with graduate students and have completed the CITI training in order to participate in the creation of a research project that has been IRB approved.  The more intangible or soft skills I’ve acquired include better time management skills, effective communication, multi-tasking, just to name a few. As my competence and confidence improved my role expanded.

The skills and abilities I have developed are too numerous to list but I can definitely say that none of these experiences would have been possible were it not for the WiSER Eagles program.  As I work to develop this article for publication, I find myself realizing that nine months ago I don’t think I would have had the confidence to approach and interview strangers much less know how to get an article published.  Not bad for a college freshman!  The students I interviewed for this article hold similar views.

Freshman Elaine Cooke says she heard about her position from her teachers during class. Both her major and research area incorporated Engineering, however, she described the focus of her major to be primarily business. While it remains on par with her major, she stated that participating in WiSER Eagles forced her out of her comfort zone as she was working hands on with the construction aspect. 

In her position, Elaine works alongside her mentor, Dr Hashem Izadi Moud in the Department of Construction Management to develop of new mix of concrete for increased sustainability in the houses of Southwest Florida. Under his guidance she has presented at a variety of conferences, including the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference (FURC) in February of 2020 and the ASHRAE Conference of 2020. This program opened the door for many opportunities like these that she expressed she would not have had otherwise. 

Laina Lamb is a recent FGCU graduate who worked as a Research Assistant for Assistant Professors Dr. Davey and Dr. Salapska-Gelleri in the Departments of Social Sciences and Psychology. Laina’s position involved conducting IRB approved interviews on historians based on study guide questionnaires given by her mentors. She was in charge of collecting narratives on the home front of subjects who were children during WWII. 

Laina states there was a huge learning curve due to the number of new tasks she had to acquire. Some of these tasks involved learning to use software (NVIVO) to transcribe interviews and operating the audio equipment. Laina says working at a position that combined history and psychology allowed her to develop a deeper appreciation for history. Laina is grateful for the opportunity to practice her interviewing skills during the course of her sessions.  Laina is confident that these skills will be invaluable in her future career as a therapist. 

Daniel Talamas is a research assistant working with Dr. Molly Nation in the Department of Ecology & Environmental Studies. He began his work with this mentor as a volunteer Spanish translator, as he became more familiar with her research, he took on greater responsibilities. The research focused on educating middle and high school students about water quality using their campus ponds. Daniel was involved in curriculum development and implementation. He also monitored student outcomes and was responsible for collecting water samples. Daniel explains there were some challenges scheduling sessions around student classes but he reports the skills he gained (journal writing, teach, and communication) were well worth the efforts and Daniel believes he never would have considered research before this experience as he found it much too intimidating.  

The three students I interviewed felt strongly that the WISER Eagle Professional Development sessions contributed greatly to their success. They reported that the assignments encouraged critical thinking and felt that time spent researching independently, and with their mentors was enhanced by the biweekly group sessions.  Overall, they reported the experience as positive and provided “an enriching and curiosity inducing work environment”.

In conclusion I would like to say that I am very grateful to the WiSER Eagles program.  I have been exposed to so many opportunities and taken on new challenges that are providing me with considerable hands on experience, allowing me to improve on a variety of skills, building a resume of skills outside the traditional classroom while enhancing my competence and confidence in my ability to take on bigger and greater challenges.  I hope other students will read this article and look in to becoming a “WiSER Eagle” It’s an experience that will enrich your life and possibly open a door to a career you had not considered.  There aren’t many part time jobs that can make that claim!

I want to thank the Eagle WiSER Participants, Daniel Talamas, Laina Lamb, and Elaine Cook, as well as Jaclyn Chastain & Billy Gunnels for taking the time to speak with me.

Friday, November 27, 2020

#FacultyFriday: Hasan Aydin


My name is Hasan Aydin. I was born in Dogubeyazit on the Eastern side of Turkey. This region is predominantly occupied by Kurdish people to which I belong. During the early days of my life, Kurdish people were not allowed to receive education in their mother tongue. There were no schools in my region. I, therefore, had to move to the Turkish-dominated Erzurum city located about 300 miles from my birthplace. Leaving my family was difficult but, looking back, I had this insatiable desire to acquire education at any cost.


I started schooling in Erzulum when I was about seven years old. Despite the challenges created by the new environment and the fear of being discovered that I was not of Turkish identity, I worked hard in class and was a top student from elementary to high school. I completed the equivalent of K – 12 education in Erzulum and later moved to pursue my degree in Mongolia in 2000, where I graduated with a teaching degree.


Seventeen years ago, I began my journey into the teaching profession as a fresh college graduate with degrees in Mongolian, English, and Russian languages and received my BA in English. The following decade offered challenging and uplifting professional experiences at diverse geographical locations, including Turkey, Mongolia, the Philippines, Romania, Nigeria, and the United States. During this time, I was fortunate to interact with culturally, linguistically, and religiously diverse students from ethnically diverse backgrounds. A significant proportion of these students were English Language Learners (ELL).

To expand my horizon in languages, I sought and earned a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in 2007. The culmination of these experiences was invaluable in shaping my practical understanding of today’s multicultural classrooms. This prompted me to pursue my doctorate in multicultural education at the University of Nevada, which I earned in 2011.

I have frequently found myself reflecting on what my role should be in the classroom. The answer has often boiled down to the need to create a collaborative, engaging learning environment where I facilitate students in active inquiry and discovery that promotes opportunities for authentic learning. During my years of research and teaching, I developed a synergy of knowledge, skills, and dispositions in multicultural education and global education to provide quality and equitable education for diverse student populations and their future teachers. I joined the College of Education at Florida Gulf Coast University in 2017, where I work as a multicultural education professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Culture. Besides teaching and instruction, I also enjoy my work. I am a human rights defender and champion the cause for oppressed people of the world.


In my teaching, my philosophy has always been to help students combine the knowledge gained in the classroom with applicable skills and dispositions that will allow them to make a difference in their working community. I deliberately integrate the concept of “embracing diversity” into both undergraduate and graduate courses. All my courses are framed on the knowledge/research base that consists of five distinctive strategies aligned to my teaching: cooperative learning, inquiry-based instruction, differentiation, timely feedback, and technology integration.

 I am committed to preparing candidates for culturally diverse educational settings (PreK-12 and higher education) and our rapidly changing global landscape. My commitment to supporting students’ development into becoming informed and engaged citizens are reflected in my work as a teacher-scholar and an educational leader.  In communicating with my students, I have adopted an open-door policy in which my students can approach me whenever they want to reach me. I always strive to be available to them. I have discovered that by sharing my passion for teaching and learning and demonstrating my enthusiasm and empathy to my students, I can connect to them both as a teacher and as someone who is engaged with them to find pertinent answers to complex and perplexing questions.

I am proud to state that I have demonstrated success in fostering the scholarly development of my students by mentoring (and accompanying) both undergraduate and graduate student-presenters to national and international conferences across the United States and abroad since 2017. I have created a research team to develop various campus enrichment opportunities, including a scholarly writing circle, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and multi-faceted diversity and equity initiatives. As a teacher-educator, I see my role as a mentor for students who want to extend their research beyond the classroom. During the past few years, several students in my courses improved their class research projects and presented them at local and international forums. All these endeavors have made students understand that their future teaching practices must be research-based, and their educational decisions must be data-driven.

Besides my teaching, I have also established myself as an internationally recognized researcher. I have been referenced and been given awards by other scholars in the field of multicultural education in both a national and international scope. My scholarship focuses on multicultural education, bilingual education, promotion of the Kurdish language, and cultural rights, human rights, social justice, diversity and equity in education, educating refugee students, citizenship education in a global context, and international education. My research spans across local, national, and international contexts, having conducted research with and prepared educators in Germany, Turkey, Romania, Mongolia, Nigeria, and the United States.

I am the author of several books, and published numerous articles, have had many conference presentations. My most recent book (co-edited with Winston Langley) was Human Rights in Turkey: Assaults on Human Dignity, which Springer Press published. Because of this, my scholarship has been recognized by several institutions. For example, in 2018 and 2019, I was awarded the “best publication article” in the College of Education at FGCU. I also received the Human Rights Educator Award from the United Nations Human Rights Florida in 2019. Also, based on my accomplishment, I was awarded an outstanding biographical publication record by Marquis Who's Who in America in 2019.


The extent and diversity of my involvement in these professional and community organizations and committees exemplify the breadth and depth of my service. I take pride in my leadership skills, the leadership role that I have demonstrated in various positions, and ultimately, by which I have contributed to education. I am also a founding editor and editor-in-chief for the Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies and the American Journal of Qualitative Research, and an associate editor for Intercultural Education

I serve as a director of Education and Youth Empowerment for African Network of South-West Florida. I served as a program chair for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2020/SIG Multicultural/Multiethnic Education: Theory, Research, and Practice.

I am a member of several professional organizations, including the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), the Korean Association for Multicultural Education (KAME), the International Association for Intercultural Research (IAIE), and the Pi Beta Delta: International Honor Society for International Education.

I wish to spend my remaining career helping others succeed as we produce, both individually and collaboratively, works that impact our field and the students affected by it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

ACS National Meeting in Orlando, Florida – Spring 2019

 Brittany Klootwyk

              Attending the ACS National Meeting was an incredible opportunity that I am glad I got to experience with the rest of the chemistry department before graduating this semester. I have been doing organic chemistry research in Dr. Boyce’s lab for two years with a focus on developing new reactions using molecules called cyclopropenones. While it may have been nerve wracking to think about presenting a poster of your own research at a conference with over 10,000 chemistry professionals in attendance, the actual presentation was anything but that. Professors and students would come to your poster to hear about your research and on occasion give you suggestions about different catalysts or conditions to try.

The best part was attending the talks given by different chemists in academia and in industry throughout the entirety of the conference. It is incredibly inspiring to attend talks of professors whose papers you may have read during your classes and research. We got to hear from Dr. Francis H. Arnold who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year and from Dr. K. Barry Sharpless who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001. Dr. Sharpless was kind enough to take a moment from signing autographs to take an amazing group photo with some of us in the chemistry department that I will treasure forever. I also got to meet some of my inspirations in chemistry like Dr. Phil Baran, Dr. Vy Dong, and Dr. David MacMillan. I gave my seminar presentation on some of the incredible photochemistry Dr. MacMillan’s lab works on so it was a little unreal to get to hear directly from him about his research and go up to chat with him after his talk! One thing that surprised me the most about the entire experience was that each chemist was extremely approachable. They were all willing to chat with the undergraduates after their talks and continue to inspire us. I am looking forward to the next National Meeting where I can hear from and meet some of the brilliant chemists I missed during this conference!

By- Brittany Klootwyk








Friday, November 6, 2020

Conference in Toronto

 Thanks to the funding provided by the Undergraduate Scholarship Office, I was able to attend a conference hosted in Toronto. Presenting in front of so many scholars and even being able to attend others’ presentations were truly an amazing experience. The first day of the conference, we had the chance to attend a lecture by S. Craig Watkins from the University of Texas at Austin who spoke about “How black youth are transforming the digital world”. He talked about the use of social media platforms such as twitter to create a community for young black people. I also enjoyed “Avatar and Virtual Reality” by XIAOWEI HUANG from the University of Macau, she talked about the lack of responsibility that people when it comes to avatar-based online games. She told us of how the men and women there acted in very offensive ways just because they knew that they would be able to keep their anonymity.

While in Canada, I was also able to experience the culture there. I was excited to find that so many beautiful and old architectures were still being used in the city. While they had skyscrapers, they also had very rustic and beautiful looking buildings in the midst of it all. Ontario is a beautiful city, so much so that I did not mind the fact that I had to walk everywhere. On our spare time we were able to experience local life in downtown Ontario and even witnessed a protest that was happening about animals being used for fur by a company.


Overall, my experience with Canada was positive. From the conference to walking around the city and being able to eat in different restaurants by different ethnic groups. On my last day, I was able to attend a free concert to celebrate the commencement of Canada day and it was wonderful to attend. I have done some of the most walking while I was there but it allowed me to observe the natives and even be a part of them. 

Cindy Linh Lu: Toxicity of Oxybenzone on Environmental Microbes Research

  In the semesters of Summer 2020- Spring 2021, seven female undergraduate STEM students and three professionals investigated the potential ...