._. UNIVERSITY OF
EDUCATION DOCTORAL STUDENT
HELPS FAILING SCHOOL TURN AROUND
During her first three years pursuing a doctorate in special education, Pamela William-
son has gotten to witness firsthand the changes that can be achieved at a school with
a plan for academic excellence.
Williamson was part of a team of university-based educators, lead by education Profes-
sor Elizabeth Bondy, that collaborated with Gainesville's Duval Elementary School to
improve the school's grade from an "F" in 2002 to an "A" in 2003, as rated by the state's
Department of Education.
Like many urban schools, Duval has a high percentage, more than 90 percent, of stu-
dents on free or fee-reduced lunch. Also, almost half of the students move in or out during
the year, and high levels of mobility are common in other failing or low-scoring schools,
After the disappointing results in
2002, Bondy who has been Duval's
professor-in-residence since 1999
- and the school staff reevaluated
what was working and what wasn't.
One approach was to study teach-
ers whose classes had performed well
on the FCAT. The team observed two
teachers, one in fifth grade and one in
third grade whose students performed
very well on the FCAT.
"Pam helped with interviewing,
observing, data analysis of pages of field
notes, and interviews," Bondy says.
"There were many sources of data, from
teacher interviews to classroom observa-
tions. It was messy, but fascinating, data
and from that we've been able to get
portraits of good teaching."
Williamson says she was fascinated
by how the best teachers engaged their
"There was a rhythm to the class-
room. The teacher wasn't using a
textbook, she was up at the board,
having children memorize and apply
information," Williamson says. "It was
amazing how quickly they responded to
the questions. There was excitement in
Williamson who will graduate
in May 2006 and hopes to become a
special education professor is also
working on a project called Duval Fel-
lows, a year-long professional develop-
ment program that the teachers help to
create. The program encourages special
education teachers to pursue new strate-
gies for children with disabilities in
Bondy and Williamson meet with
about 30 teachers, guidance counsel-
ors and administrators for three hours
each month to discuss concerns and
"Each teacher has to name some
insight they've gained since the last
meeting," Williamson says. "Teachers
are learning new and different ways to
look at children with disabilities in their
classroom. They're exploring issues near
and dear to their own heart and finding
ways to remedy those issues."
Williamson and Bondy say the
broader benefit of the research they
have done at Duval Elementary is
that it can be applied to many similar
schools in Florida and elsewhere.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to share infor-
mation I've learned," Williamson says.
Tools of Play
DOCTORAL STUDENT JAMIE WATERS EXPLORES EVIDENCE OF CHILDREN IN
FLORIDA'S SPANISH COLONIAL VILLAGES
Digging into the past is more than child's play, says
UF in rli, ..p..1..;,-doctoral student Jamie Waters,
whose archaeological finds of children's artifacts reveal
missing clues about the world they lived in.
Children in 18th-century Spanish colonial house-
holds in St. Augustine had toys and games, but they
also started early to learn their future roles as men and
women, the study reveals.
"The main goal of childhood was to get children
ready for their adult lives," says Waters. "Parents and
other adult family members were trying to socialize
children in the skills they would need as adults, which
for boys included reading and writing, and for girls was
domestic crafts, such as pottery making, sewing, cook-
ing and taking care of younger siblings."
Boys were left relatively free to play between the
ages of 3 and 7, before entering school, while girls were
beginning to be taught the future responsibilities of
motherhood, food preparation and other household
tasks, Waters says. Thimbles and small ceramic bowls
found at the site were among the items young girls
used, she says.
Waters, a research assistant to renowned UF archae-
ologist Kathy Deagan, compared the artifacts from four
households known from documents to have between
four and nine children with those from other house-
holds, three without children and one with one child.
The artifacts were collected during excavations
headed by Deagan and by other archaeologists in exca-
vations in the 1970s.
To identify each household, Waters used a 1764
map commissioned by the Spanish government to
assess property holdings of the colonists. She was able
to determine family size by examining parish records
for births and baptisms. Other records revealed payroll
amounts for the garrison, allowing her to compare the
number and types of artifacts associated with children
living in lower- and upper-class households.
Marbles, spinning tops, whistles and miniature
ceramic figurines such as animals and birds that
were excavated from households with children, she says.
.Iomie \Vore, s examines o ca, C'ed bid tlrat might
hlnbe been used aos a toy in 18rtlcentury Spanish
colonial households in St Augustine Flo
"Despite the fact that St. Augustine was considered
an impoverished and remote garrison town compared
to the rich and cosmopolitan cities of Mexico City or
Lima, it appears that families still acquired amusement
items for their children," Waters says.
"Children seldom have been explored in archaeol-
ogy because of the limited Western view of childhood
as merely a prolonged period of dependence on adults,"
Waters adds. "Yet our research shows that children
clearly have been and continue to be important parts of
Amoebas detect water quality in
North Central Florida's Lakes
MASTER'S STUDENT JAIME ESCOBAR CONDUCTS GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH
"Florida has more
than 7,000 lakes,
so it's key to know
the quality of their
- Jaime Escobar
Colombia's Escuela de Ingeniera de
Antioquie is a long way from the
University of Florida. But for Jamie
Escobar, a master's degree in geological
sciences was a natural progression from
his bachelor's degree in environmental
"When he came to UF, Jaime had a
clear idea of exactly what he wanted to
do, the organisms he wanted to work
with and he took it upon himself to
design a good research topic, thesis,
and to do it on his own," says Mark
Brenner, associate professor of geologi-
Escobar studies estate amoebas
(amoebas with a shell) found in lake
sediment to determine water quality.
He has applied this method to 35 north
central Florida lakes.
"In a lot of ways, his research is
groundbreaking because very little
work has been done with these organ-
isms," says Brenner.
The amoebas are useful as indicators
of whether a lake's water is acidic or
alkaline, Escobar says, and they act as
indicators of nutrient levels in the lake.
"Depending on the kind of amoeba
I find in the lake, I can tell the water
quality," he says.
Escobar, who graduates in spring
2005, will continue his research at the
"I'm hoping to develop mathemati-
cal models based on the amoebae to
relate the distribution of the different
species in each lake with environmen-
tal conditions of each lake," Escobar
says. "It's ongoing research."
Brenner says Escobar's research is
"It tells us about contemporary
water-quality issues and gives us an eye
to the past in terms of trying to recon-
struct changes in water quality," he says.
"Florida has more than 7,000 lakes,
so it's key to know the quality of their
water," Escobar says.
15 miles east of Lake
Wales, is just one of
Florida's 7,000 lakes.
Manatee Bone Property Helps
Define Safe Boating Speeds
Manatees ascend to the surface to get air about once every five min-
utes, which often puts them in the path of one or more of Florida's
900,000 boats. Each year, collisions with boats account for about 25 per-
cent of roughly 300 manatee deaths in Florida.
With an eye on the speed restrictions the state imposes on selected wa-
terways to try to protect manatees, doctoral student Kari Clifton is studying
the properties of manatee bone.
As with so many of the manatee's other attributes, the structure of its
bone is unusual, Clifton says. The rib bones in particular are
extremely dense and heavy. It is thought these heavy ribs pro-
vide ballast for the manatee like a weight belt for a scuba diver.
"Manatee bones are solid and highly mineralized so they're
extremely heavy," says Clifton, who will graduate in Decem-
ber. "But they're actually quite brittle; it's not a surprise to
engineers, but most people don't realize that it takes very little
energy to break their bones."
In fact, the bulk of deaths due to boat collisions do not result
from propeller cuts but rather from trauma and broken bones,
To determine just how much force it takes to break manatees' rib bones,
Clifton, who got her undergraduate degree in biology from Valparaiso Uni-
versity in Indiana and came to UF in 1998, fired projectiles at bones from
dead manatees and measured how much energy it took to fracture them.
Clifton's study represents the first attempt to measure the biomechanical
effects of boat strikes on manatees.
"The best part was doing the
impact testing because it gets us closer
to the ultimate goal," Clifton says.
"Now, we can say how fast the boat
needs to be going to prevent those
fatalities. We produced data that can.
actually be applied in the real world."
NATIONAL OLDER DRIVER RESEARCH AND TRAINING CENTER
HELPS FUEL SENIOR INDEPENDENCE
hen Dennis McCarthy signed on to be a research assistant in the rehabilitation science doctoral program
in 2002, he had no idea he would soon be co-director of UF's National Older Driver Research and
The center, in the College of Public Health and Health Professions, is the nation's only center dedicated
exclusively to older drivers. It is supported by nearly $2 million in
funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
Federal Highway Administration and the State of Florida.
McCarthy, who earned a bachelor's degree in occupational thera-
py from Florida International University and a master's in education
from Florida Atlantic University, says his work as an occupational
therapist focused on the use of adaptive equipment and technology
to help elderly patients maintain their independence. I
"This is really an extension of that, looking now at the automo- q
bile," McCarthy says of his current research. "People depend on their .
cars, so when they're no longer able to drive, we see what we can do .. r
to allow them to remain connected to their communities."
The United States currently has more than 18 million drivers
aged 70 or older and by 2024 an estimated one in four drivers will
be 65 or older.
The center has several projects geared toward elderly driving
Center researchers are working to determine which methods are D OR
best for evaluating seniors' driving abilities and if roadway design
features might affect safe driving performance. The data are being S
gathered from the center's assessment programs in Gainesville and A HLT F
Ocala, as well as collaborating sites in Jacksonville and Orlando.
Vision problems, cognitive deficits, physical limitations, and even
some medications, can contribute to difficulty driving as people age.
The center's assessment program, Independence Drive, offers two-hour evaluations that include physical,
vision and cognitive testing and assessments of on-road driving skills. Individuals found to be unsafe drivers are
counseled and educated about alternatives to driving. Information about the program is available on the center's
Web site, independencedrive.phhp.ufl.edu.
"It's not only getting the word out to elderly drivers, but to healthcare professionals in the field that there are
places where clients with questions about driving ability can be addressed," McCarthy says.
After he graduates in August 2005, McCarthy says he hopes to continue research on older drivers and alter-
natives to driving that allow older people to maintain their mobility.
Center For Children's Literature and
Culture Remembers Childhood
Sometimes graduate school can can take one
back to childhood.
For Lauren Brosnihan, a graduate student
in UF's English Department, children's culture
- from ancient lullabies to animated films, from
fairy tales to the latest toy is at the forefront
of her mind.
Since Fall 2002, Brosnihan has worked
with UF's Center for Children's Literature and
Culture, helping English Professor John Cech
to produce the center's public radio program,
Recess!The daily, three-minute show reaches an
estimated audience of 20 million listeners from
coast to coast, and even more internationally
through it's website www.recess.ufl.edu
"Lauren produces, writes and voices programs for Recess!; she answers inqui-
ries about the show; and she maintains the Recess!website and its text and audio
archives," Cech says.
"Through the show, we're trying to help adults to become more aware of
children's culture by looking at music, art, books, media, and issues that deal
with childhood," Brosnihan says. "Our goal is to offer our listening audience of
primarily adults three minutes during which they can pause in their daily lives
- at home, in the car, or at work and think about childhood, past and pres-
ent, and its vital importance in our lives."
Brosnihan also helps to organize the colloquiums that are held annually by
the center to discuss such subjects as the changing nature of children's libraries
and innovative ways to introduce children to science.
"The colloquiums offer diverse ways of looking at these subjects," Brosnihan
says. "They're really for anyone who's interested in children's education includ-
ing teachers, librarians and media specialists, policy-makers, and scholars. These
meetings are free and open to the general public."
Brosnihan earned a bachelor's degree in humanities from Providence Col-
lege, a master's of library science from the University of Maryland and a higher
diploma in Anglo-Irish literature from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
Brosnihan, who was a librarian at the University of West Florida for seven
years, says the strength of the English faculty was the draw to pursuing her
doctorate at UF.
After she earns her doctoral degree, Brosnihan says she hopes to teach at a
liberal arts college, incorporating children's culture into the courses she will be
YJ ~ 'zS
Student Uses Isotopes To Track
Loggerhead Sea Turtles
T throughout the nearly 50 years renowned University of Florida naturalist Archie
L Carr spent studying sea turtles, personal observation was his most valuable
SToday, UF doctoral student Kimberly Reich is measuring stable isotopes in log-
S gerhead sea turtles to help answer questions about which Carr could only speculate.
Isotopes are forms of a chemical element that have different numbers of neu-
trons and therefore different atomic masses. Stable isotopes are naturally occurring
isotopes that do not decay with time, and include isotopes of hydrogen, oxygen,
Nitrogen, carbon and sulfur.
Stable isotopes are valuable to science because their abundance in nature varies
in a predictable manner by geographic location and by the type of biological mate-
rial sampled. Stable isotopes can be used to infer habitat use and diet of animals
that are otherwise hard to follow. So, by measuring stable isotopes in skin from
nesting loggerheads, Reich can infer where nesting females spend their time.
"Because the turtles only nest once every two or three years, it's difficult to ob-
serve them." Reich says. "They end up spending the bulk of their lifetime somewhere
else. Knowing where that is affects our ability to protect them, not only during migra-
Kmbe, 15 Reach hlolcs o
tion, but in their feeding grounds."
i',elre o99e, hlecd Reich studied loggerheads for four summers as an undergraduate at Palm Beach Atlantic
oi sed on c:,mpous 0s pc.) Ud'iversity in West Palm Beach before studying isotopes in the Department of Wildlife and
of the Ist-yeo, study F ,hery Sciences for her master's degree at Texas A&M University. She began her doctoral
Ibcsehiie \ o, k
rk rudies at UF in 2001 and will graduate next December.
Reich has mentored 12 undergraduate students during her four years at UF and plans to
.. into academia after graduating.
"I enjoy watching students get excited about science and develop an interest in some-
r h ing that was foreign to them before," Reich says. "Two of my students presented posters
ir i national symposium this year and a number have gone on to graduate school. It's nice
r., be able to reciprocate that mentoring I had from professors as an undergraduate."
Homes Hit By Hurricane Winds
Offer Insight To Better Building
WV 7 hen UF civil engineering -. ir, r... nr.r R.. -. LI II. ..In r.. .-1.
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sacola for Hurricane Ivan.
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Despite the fact that he has an
extremely active research program,
James Jones has advised more than two
dozen doctoral and master's students
who have gone on to successful careers
in academia and industry during his
more than 20 years at the University of
Jones develops computer models
that seek to understand and predict the
interaction between climate, crops, soil
and management practices.
Jones integrates his students' inter-
ests with his own to achieve research
and education success for both.
"My mentoring philosophy is guided
by the fact that our graduates will func-
tion in an increasingly complex world
in which interdisciplinary research and
cooperation is essential for advancing
science and its application to societal
problems," Jones says.
"Dr. Jones is a fantastic mentor;
a unique mix of teacher, cheerleader,
CEO, and all-around role model," says
R. Andrews Ferreyra, manager of bio-
logical applications at Ag Connections,
Inc. "I will strive to imitate Dr. Jones'
example for the rest of my professional
Former student Carlos D. Messina
praises Jones for encouraging his stu-
dents to pursue new areas of research.
"He learned along my side, he let
me make mistakes while making sure I
learned from them," Messina says.
Greg Neimeyer says that several
years ago he saw an ad on television
about parenting that equated well to his
feelings about mentoring.
"In the ad the person was describ-
ing the experience of parenting as 100
times more challenging and 100 times
more rewarding than anyone might
imagine," Neimeyer says. "Mentoring
is like that, too."
Neimeyer says that although he has
served on more than 100 graduate com-
mittees, including more than 30 as a
doctoral chair, during the last 20 years,
the shear volume "seemed to be the
least significant indicator of my experi-
ence as a mentor.
"Inside these numbers were individ-
ual stories to tell about lives that were
led. The lifeblood of the mentoring
process was better portrayed in those
narrative accounts than in the collective
numbers," Neimeyer says.
Indeed, several former students cited
Neimeyer's listening abilities as key to
his success as a mentor.
"I think one of Greg's greatest
strengths as a mentor is his ability to lis-
ten attentively and support his students'
creativity and individuality," says Ter-
aesa Vinson, a former doctoral student.
"Greg mentors an extremely diverse
group of students with different ideas,
interests and goals, yet he manages to
focus on that individual and find the
projects and paths that are best for that
Although Ramesh Reddy is a lead-
ing authority on biogeochemical cycles
of nutrients and other contaminants
in wetlands and aquatic systems, he
expects his graduate students to be
"I consider graduate students as
my colleagues and expect them to
bring new challenges and ideas to the
program," says Reddy, who has served
on 106 graduate committees. "I depend
on them to be smarter and stay current
with the published literature, while
they depend on me for support and
direction that helps them to function at
their full potential."
Students often cite Reddy's paternal
nature in overseeing their studies.
"While he maintains quite high
expectations of his students, he is also
fatherly in his approach to guiding stu-
dents through the doctoral experience,"
says current student Todd Z. Osborne.
"He takes extraordinary interest in our
health and well being outside of the lab."
Reddy says he values the graduate
education experience because of the
long-term relationships he has devel-
oped with his students.
"Their accomplishments and success
as young scientists gives me personal
satisfaction that I played a small role in
shaping their lives," Reddy says. "This
is truly my reward."
Conserving Florida's Native Orchids
One Petal At A Time
Scott Stewart says that when he tells people his
doctoral dissertation research is on native Florida
orchids, "they usually picture the kind sold at Home
Depot," like exotic Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium
All of Florida's 118 native orchid species are threat-
ened by development, Stewart says, and while land
acquisition is the primary way to protect them, he adds
that other methods must be developed to propagate and
restore orchid populations in the wild.
By studying many elements of orchid ecology, in-
cluding distribution, population, genetics, pollination,
mycorrhizae and propagation, Stewart hopes to "offer a
complete picture of how Florida's native orchids fit into
the greater ecosystem."
He has chosen three critically endangered native
orchids as tests for his integrated conservation meth-
ods: Habenaria distans, the false water-spider orchid;
Habenaria macroceratitis, the long-horned orchid; and
Spiranthesfloridana, the Florida ladies'-tresses.
"By developing integrated conservation and recovery
plans based on research with these three species," Stew-
art says, "I hope to lay the groundwork for the conser-
vation and recovery of other Florida native orchids."
Florida has more native orchid species than any
other state, and while the commercial plant emphasis
has been on exotic and tropical orchid hybrids, Stew-
art says more growers are producing native orchids for
purchase as both potted and garden plants.
Pale Grass Pink (C. pallidus), is one of the
more common roadside orchids in Florida.
The Orange crested orchid (Platanthera cristata) is a
representatives of the yellow-fringed summer flowering
Platanthera complex native to Florida.
He says orchids also are a draw for eco-tourists who
come to Florida on "native orchid vacations" in places
like the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Everglades
National Park and Apalachicola National Forest.
"Despite being in its infancy, this eco-tourist move-
ment can only be supported if the state's unique native
flora continues to exist in wild areas," Stewart says.
"Florida's native orchid populations are under constant
pressure from human population expansion and land
conversion to agriculture and home sites."
Stewart's fascination with orchids developed early. He
published several scientific papers on terrestrial native
orchids while an undergraduate at Illinois College in
Jacksonville, Ill., where he earned a bachelor's degree in
biology and chemistry.
He came to UF in 2003 to pursue a doctorate in en-
vironmental horticulture under the guidance of Michael
Kane, a professor in the environmental horticulture
"Scott has an incredibly infectious passion for the bi-
ology of endangered Florida native orchids," Kane says.
"He has proven himself to be a very talented scientist
who embraces both laboratory and field research."
Stewart, who plans on becoming a professor after
graduation, says the most exciting part of his research is
getting out of the lab.
Children With Autism Develop
Friendships In Inclusive Classrooms
lorida has more than 5,000 children
with autism-related disorders in its
schools, and many are socially isolated
because of their symptoms.
Brian Boyd, a doctoral student in
special education with an emphasis in
early childhood special education, has
seen their struggles in the classroom
"I used to teach autistic children,"
Boys says. "The biggest problem for
them is socially relating to other people,
especially kids their age."
Although friendship development is
one driving factor behind the current
trend in special education to integrate
students with disabilities into the
general school population, Boyd says
autistic children have great difficulty
establishing durable friendships.
So researchers at the University of
Florida developed Project GATORRS.
"In Project GATORRS, we enter the
classroom and assess kids with autism,
then develop interventions for them
and friendship formations with other
students," Boyd says.
Project GATORRS conducts sys-
tematic assessments of children's social
behaviors and develops individualized
interventions that account for both the
unique characteristics of the child and
the classroom context in which social
The project uses a four-part model
to link assessment to intervention.
First, the researchers interview teachers
and caregivers and observe children in
the classroom to gain an understand-
ing of how they interact with their
peers. They also videotape students in a
variety of social settings, such as snack
time. Based on these assessments, the
researchers develop hypotheses about
the characteristics of the child and
classroom that facilitate or inhibit social
Based on these hypotheses, the team
develops experimental assessments
to determine the factors that may be
leading to inappropriate or withdrawn
social behaviors. Finally, the researchers
develop individualized interventions for
Boyd earned a bachelor's degree in
psychology from the College of William
and Mary in Virginia and a master's in
early childhood education at the Uni-
versity of Virginia.
"The most rewarding part of this
research is working directly with teach-
ers and families, and being able to
facilitate the socialization of kids with
autism to make their inclusive experi-
ence with other children more success-
ful," Boyd says.
When he graduates in August 2005,
Boyd will do a postdoctoral fellowship
at the University of North Carolina at
"Hopefully what we are developing
with Project GATORRS is an assess-
ment model that teachers can use in
classrooms across the state to help de-
termine what will help autistic children
be more social," Boyd says.
Gator Tech Smart House Makes
Living Easy For Elderly
eff King is helping make houses for
today's senior citizens look more
hke the Jetson's futuristic cartoon
home at the Gator Tech Smart House.
The house melds the latest com-
puter and sensor technology to provide
automatically the assistance at home
that many people need as they age.
Built into this cozy but complete
living space is a mind-bending ar-
ray of experimental assistive-living
devices, ranging from a microwave
that recognizes entrees and automati-
cally determines how long to cook
them to a "smart floor" that tracks an
elderly person's whereabouts in the
home. These devices are linked by a
computer network and keep tabs on
each other and, most important, the
Computer engineering doctoral
student Jeff King is part of a team that
helped design "smart floor," and since
November 2004 King has been deputy
director of Smart House.
"Jeff is the perfect team player for a
research and development team," says
Sumi Helal, an associate professor of
computer and information science and
engineering and director of technology
development for the UF Rehabilita-
tion Engineering Research Center on
Technology for Successful Aging. "He
enabled many of the projects that he
was not directly involved in, volun-
tarily, and stirred in a great sense of
responsibility and pride among the
rest of the research team."
King is also working on a system
that will project a text or video image
onto any surface inside the house.
"We're targeting senior citizens
and people with hearing impairments
who can't hear audio like a phone or
doorbell," says King, who will gradu-
ate in December 2005. "It will allow
them to read information they need to
Florida is especially in need of
current assisted-care solutions. Nearly
9 percent of the state's population
- about 1.5 million people is 75
or older, the highest in the nation.
The need is only increasing: the state's
85-plus population is projected to
almost double by 2020, when Florida
Jeff King demonstrates
smart wave, a microwave
that recognizes and cooks
will be home to almost 650,000 people
aged 85 or older.
"Usually, work in computer science
helps machines run faster or have better
graphics, but this project will directly
improve peoples' lives in a permanent
way," King says.
Bridge Vs. Barge: UF Engine
Purposely Ram A Bridge To L
To Design Safer, Less-Expens
David Cowan has spent most of his
graduate career at the University
of Florida preparing to create a disaster.
In March and April 2004, Cowan
was part of a UF research team that
rammed a barge into the decommis-
sioned, 1960s-era St. George's Island
Bridge spanning Apalachicola Bay.
These first-ever planned collisions
culminated the experimental stage of a
$1 million research effort four years in
The preliminary findings suggest
potential new ways to reduce the cost
of new bridges and better safeguard
them against the rare but deadly ac-
cidental collisions that have cost dozens
of lives in the past two decades.
With its 1,200 miles of coastline
and lengthy Intracoastal Waterway,
Florida is a hot spot for barges toting
fertilizer, coal, petroleum products and
other cargo. Florida has more than
9,000 bridges, including several hun-
dred spanning bays or rivers deep and
wide enough for barge traffic.
The threat of accidents results
in significantly higher construction
costs. State engineers design all bridge
supports, or piers, to withstand major
hurricane wind forces. But, for bridges
in navigable waterways, engineers
must design to far more stringent col-
The bulked-up construction magni-
fies expense. Top hurricane wind loads
on the Bryant Grady Patton Bridge
that replaced the St. George's Island
Bridge might have totaled 120,000 lat-
eral pounds. But the higher standards
protecting the bridge against collisions
required that some of its piers could
sustain 3 million pounds, requirements
that at least doubled the bridge cost to
These higher standards are based on
limited test data, because before the St.
George's Island experiments no one had
ever run vessel collision tests on bridge
piers at full scale.
As part of a team led by Gary Con-
solazio, an associate professor of civil
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the two piers the team planned to ram.
Cowan and fellow civil engineering
graduate student Alex Biggs assisted in
the design, fabrication and installation
of the sensor systems, Consolazio says.
"David and Alex were key con-
tributors to the success of the project,"
The sensors aimed to measure not
only on how much force the collisions
generated, but also the bridge pier's
movement and how the nearby soils
The researchers are still crunching
the many gigabytes of data they col-
lected during the tests, but their initial
findings indicate the maximum impact
loads generated may be less than the
design standards predict.
The reduced load, if confirmed,
could ease some of the expensive
construction requirements for collision-
prone piers, Cowan says, and could
result in safer bridges.
"I enjoy the analytical work,"
Cowan says, "but I also enjoyed being
out there doing experimental tests on
Graduate Education: A "Lifetime Experience" to
Meet a Lifetime of Challenges
This issue of EXCEL focuses on graduate student research and its impact on the State of Florida.
UF's 10,000 graduate students are involved in critical areas of research that have tremendous implica-
tions for Florida citizens personally, socially and economically. From developing strategies to im-
prove educational opportunities for disadvantaged children to creating "smart" houses for the elderly,
UF's graduate students are making a difference for Florida.
Graduate students learn while doing. The close association between students and faculty mentors
produces new knowledge while simultaneously training the next generation of scientists and scholars.
Science advances because discoveries in one discipline fuel ideas and new technologies in others.
Comprehensive research universities like UF are able to transform ideas into discoveries and then
.x into applications. UF faculty encourage students to acquire information from many disciplines and
apply that knowledge to specific problems. Kari Clifton's study of manatee bones is a good example.
She blended an understanding of biology, ecology, engineering and biomechanics with public policy
and recreational practices to address a real problem in Florida. Thousands of other students are doing
The challenges of Florida's future are the grist for the budding scientists represented in EXCEL.
Their contributions are immediate and the skills they learn today will benefit the state tomorrow.
Kenneth J. Gerhardt, Ph.D.
: UNIVERSITY OF Non-profit
c FLORIDA Organization
FLORID U.S. Postage
E News For & About PAID
University of Florida Gainesville, FL
Grad u ate Students Permit No. 94
Gainesville, FL 32611-5515