Un i v e r s i ty
Just Kid's Stuff
Enjoys Body Slams
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He knows about the trials of learning the AB s, the kinds of ers a
kid should avoid and where old pirate treasure lies beneath the beetlebung
on Martha's Vineyard. Kevin Shortsleeve knows all this and more, and
he will let you peek into his world, if you're willing to listen.
Shortsleeve, a noted children's author, has worked since September as a research assistant
for Recess!, the children's culture radio program created by the University of Florida's Center
for the Study of Children's Literature and Media. The show presents short segments on
children's literature and culture mornings on WUFT-FM, UF's National Public Radio
Author of 13 Monsters Who Should Be Avoided, The Story ofMartha' Vineyard and several
other books, Shortsleeve, 35, came to UF in 1999 to work on a master's degree in children's
literature. There, he met up with well-known children's author and English Professor John
Cech, the center director and creator of Recess!
"It was an act of serendipity," Shortsleeve says. "I'd been living in Gainesville for a year
before I started with the program, and I'd been listening to Recess!, and I'd been thinking,
boy, I'd really like to write for Recess!."
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Shortsleeve is now involved in an
independent study on Gorey, who died
last year at the age of 75. Shortsleeve's
thesis focuses on the controversy
surrounding Gorey and whether some
of his work, which can be quite
frightening, is appropriate for a young
Recently Shortsleeve tackled one of
children's literature's most beloved
figures, Dr. Seuss. He visited the Seuss
Landing area of the Islands of Adven-
ture theme park at Universal Studios in
Orlando for a segment concerning Dr.
Seuss and what's been done in his name
since his death in 1991. The commer-
cialization of the Seuss name bothers
"He didn't want to do any merchan-
dising of his toys, he wasn't into it. He
just wanted his books to be out there,
maybe some films."
Since Seuss died, however, there
have been musicals, movies such as Jim
Carrey's recent live-action adaptation of
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and
even amusement park attractions like
"In general, I personally feel that not
a lot of good has been done in his name
since he passed away, but Seuss Landing
is an exception, Seuss Landing was
Shortsleeve's next project is a
segment devoted to Frankenstein. He is
concentrating on the connection the
story has with children, beyond its
"Frankenstein, in the old black-and-
white film, was very much like a child.
He doesn't understand language, he
doesn't understand the world around
him, he wanders around like a toddler."
This aspect, he says, is where the real
fear lies for children.
"For a kid, the thing that's scary
about Frankenstein, perhaps, is the way
that he's rejected, by his surrogate '
father, and the way society condemns
him. They somehow relate to the
monster on some level. We always try
to show how kids identify with it."
Shortsleeve doesn't spend all his
time in theme parks or movie houses.
Most of his work requires plenty of
research time spent in the library and
on the Internet, although even the
most thorough checking can some-
times fall short.
That became apparent during the
development of a piece about Clement
Moore, author of "The Night Before
Christmas." The segment took a long
time to research, and Shortsleeve left
no stone unturned -he learned
about the day it was written, where
Moore had been living at the time,
even what the weather had been like.
"Unfortunately, as soon as I was
done recording that, there was an
article in The New York Times claiming
Clement Moore did not write 'The
Night Before Christmas,' that there
was this other lost author that
everyone had forgotten about."
He chuckles. "We had to put a tag
on the end of that one: 'There's a
controversy and we're going to work it
out, we'll let you know what happens.'
That was definitely my best, and my
P Shortsleeve sees his work as a unique
spin on graduate study, because of the
opportunity it offers to deal with a
variety of topics and ideas.
"When you're in graduate school,
you wade through things really really
slowly. And that's nice, that's fine. But
it's great working for Recess! because
there's a changing subject every week."
"This is a wonderful position for a
graduate student to be in," says Cech.
"There are so many directions it can go
in. It puts the graduate student in the
role of public intellectual. Taking
complex ideas and making them
accessible to the public."
In that role, Shortsleeve says, the
kids are the priority.
"The first and biggest thing is to be
interested in children, and to be curious
about what makes kids tick."
Although the graduate coordinators
usually assign assistantships, Cech says
he'll definitely ask for Shortsleeve again,
and Shortsleeve will gladly continue.
"I'll do it as long as they'll have me.
The faculty are extremely accom-
plished, the UF program in children's
literature is incredible, and Recess! is a
big part of that."
Kevin Shortsleeve, kshorts@enghsh ufi edu
John Cech, jcech@enghsh ufledu
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Council President Wants Grad
Students' Voices Heard
Natalie Blevins wants to put UF
graduate students out front. She wants
their voices heard, their work recog-
nized and their needs met. As presi-
dent of the Graduate Student Council,
she has committed to making that
Blevins, a second year doctoral
student in clinical and health psychol-
ogy and a master's student in health
administration, has been involved with
the GSC for two years, starting as a
representative for her department. She
moved up to become graduate student
forum director, overseeing the
graduate research symposium, and last
April, won the presidency.
"It's been a great experience
working with people, learning to
manage a budget, manage groups of
people," Blevins says.
The GSC is made up of an
executive board and various depart-
mental committees of about 100
elected or appointed representatives.
At its general meeting each month, the
representatives bring student issues to
the executive board's attention,
everything from fundraising to faculty
and mentor issues to academic issues.
The board, which serves as a liaison
between graduate students and the
administration, will then take the
problem to the proper administrators.
The board also works to facilitate
communication between graduate and
undergraduate students, a relationship
that has been lacking in the past.
"It's a way to keep plugged into
each other," Blevins says. "There hasn't
been much of a working relationship,
so during my administration there's
been a huge push to create that link.
We all really need to work together."
Another initiative of the GSC is the
Graduate and Professional Student
Forum. Last year, more than 100
students conducted poster presenta-
tions at the annual, day-long sympo-
sium at the J. Wayne Reitz Union.
"The forum helps give [graduate
students] visibility and respect for the
work they do," Blevins says. "We're
doing our best to increase our visibility
and representation on campus."
The GSC's most heavily utilized
service is the travel grant program.
Through the council, students who
travel to conduct or present research
can be reimbursed for up to $150 of
their costs. Sometimes students'
departments will match the sum, but
Blevins still wishes the council could
"It's frustrating," she says, "You
want to do more and represent
students as well as you can, but you're
stretched so thin already."
It takes a commitment, Blevins
says, to work so hard for a group of
people who don't even know that they
need your help. Many graduate
students, Blevins says, are so focused
on their degree that they don't even
recognize the effort put forth on their
"A lot of the work you do goes
unnoticed," she says. "The president
needs to be willing to work behind the
Despite the low profile, Blevins
enjoys the position.
"Overall it's been great. I absolutely
love it. I've learned so much about this
university, I've met so many great
people, students and faculty," she says.
Blevins plans to stay involved with
GSC after her term ends. In the future
the council hopes to expand its
services, adding a mentoring program
and expanding the travel grant
Related web site: .-t ..l l../.-gsc/
"It's been a great
with people, learning
to manage a
groups of people.
Truth wears body oil, justice sports
bulging pecs and The American Way is
a struggle against oppressive individuals
who manipulate society for their own
gain, says a University of Florida
researcher who has studied the
country's infatuation with professional
Audiences know that productions of
the World Wrestling Federation, known
as the WWF, are sports entertainment,
not athletic competitions, and come in
droves to experience the events as
passion plays that re-enact their
personal and social struggles, said
Aaron Feigenbaum, who did the
research for his doctoral dissertation in
anthropology at UE
"(Wresding) superstars do not
engage in heroic struggles against the
gods or in epic quests for immortality,"
he said. "They engage in battles
against tyrannical employers, moral
crusaders, hypocritical power brokers
and a social system that threatens their
freedom and leaves them alienated from
their fellow human beings."
Viewers tuning in to WWF's "Raw
is War," the top-rated show on cable
television, may witness a wrestler
driving a hearse into the arena and
threatening to take another superstar's
soul, or they may see 20,000 fans
cheering for a sock, Feigenbaum said.
"'Seinfield,' the most popular
television sitcom of the 1990s, is often
referred to as the show about nothing,"'
he said. "In contrast, sports entertain-
ment may be considered the show
"For those who want action, there is
action," he said. "For those who want
to see scantily clad males or females,
there are scantily clad males or females.
For those who want political satire,
there is plenty of it. And for those who
wish they could punch their boss,
sports entertainment can provide that
Feigenbaum combined a variety of
study methods in his research. He
interviewed a representative sample of
the wresting audience, analyzed tapes
of televised events, attended live
wresting performances, studied sports
entertainment Internet sites and
interviewed key individuals in the
business. He found that, like religious
ceremonies and other rituals, profes-
sional wrestling lets people break free
from everyday roles and create new
ones, as well as reconfigure or make
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The contest was part of a "Survivor"-1
Millennium Scholar Leadership Seminar,
program is funded by a grant from the B
minority students with college funding.
Barnes, a doctoral student in materials
Black Graduate Student Organization, fi
Morning America" with her mother. The
listened to the requirements, her interest
"I thought, 'I fit these criteria. I could
Students are nominated for the award
extensive application. In the inaugural ac
offered to about 4,000 entering college fi
entering and current graduate students. I
will be available for entering college fresh
"We are the first and only graduate sd
Barnes' class of scholars was encourage
in Chantilly, Va.
Although Bill Gates was unable to att
keynote speaker each day, then broke int
students. Most activities, Barnes says, we:
know the other scholars.
"The conference turned out to be mu
formed bonds. You learned how people v
An interesting point of the program,
were present. For the program's purposes
Hispanic, Asian Pacific Americans, Amer
diversity that Barnes says isn't always reco
"The most important, biggest thing I
African-Americans, but toward other mit
stumbling blocks put in their way."
lose folks on "Survivor" face some extreme physical
can any of them stuff more than 100 worms into
? UF graduate student Samesha Barnes has seen it
forms, that is.
, but she got them all in there," she says.
based icebreaker activity for students at the Gates
held in January 2000. The unique scholarship
ill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide
s science and engineering, and president of UF's
rst heard of the program while watching "Good
show was spodighting the program and as she
do that,"' she says.
by administrators or teachers, and then fill out an
ademic year of 2000-2001, scholarships were
eshmen, current college undergraduates, and
For the 2001-2002 academic year, the scholarships
holars for the program," Barnes says.
ed to attend the all-expenses-paid leadership seminar
end, Barnes says the students heard from a different
o workshops to share stories and discuss issues facing
re geared toward building teamwork and getting to
ch greater than any of us expected," she says. "We
rent through some of the same things as you."
3arnes says, was that so many different minorities
, the term "minority" applies to African-American,
ican Indians and Alaskan Native students, a span of
learned was that racism exists not only toward
norities in general," Barnes says. "Everyone has had
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Keeping up with current issues in teaching and in sociology is important to Lara Foley.
Foley, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology and graduate student in the
Women's Studies Program, has taught courses ranging from SYG 2000 Principles of Sociol-
ogy to SYA 4110 Development of Sociological Thought. She can often be found in teaching
workshops or updating her lessons with the latest research in the field.
"This takes extra work on my part, but is truly worth it because it keeps me excited about
the material. If I am excited about the topics, the students will tend to be as well," she says.
"I have been very impressed with the climate of Lara's classroom. She has a very effective
rapport with her students and she demonstrates considerable knowledge of her subject
matter. She is one of the finest graduate student instructors I have observed in recent years,
says Connie Shehan, professor of sociology and director of the University Center for
Excellence in Teaching, after observing some of Foley's classes.
Foley strives to create an environment where different viewpoints can be actively dis-
cussed. To that end, she encourages the use of Email and an electronic message board for
those students who may be quieter in class.
"I want to be certain that students know that they can speak in my classroom. Not only
must students have a voice, they must be taken seriously," she says.
For the past three years, Wes Smith has taught about 90 student i ...
human body in his PET 2320 Applied Human Anatomy course, t .. .... I
anatomy course offered on campus. When those students are from....
various levels of scientific training, it becomes quite a feat. But thi I
doctoral student, who also acts as coordinator for three other teact ... ....
Smith, a 2001 VanderWerf award winner, teaches three or four I .
semester. He has done extensive outside work to revise materials, c. ., II .
guides and generally improve the anatomy course. He is also popu ... I .
having scored consistency above average on teacher evaluations.
"Wes has unlimited energy and has a teaching style that is excit... ... I..
motivates his students with humor and in-class competitions," say I I
and chair of the Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences.
"Every day a teacher opens the door to a classroom, takes the st ... I I .
new wisdom that will last a lifetime. Students make up the founda.. .. i
institution and are the future of society," Smith says. "By serving tl ... i .
contribution to humanity of unparalleled magnitude. What job is ... i
influential than that of a teacher?"
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Rip currents appear to persist for
weeks or even months at the same places
along the shore, although they become
dangerously strong only under certain
conditions, according to new research by
University of Florida coastal engineers.
Jamie MacMahan, a UF doctoral
student in civil and coastal engineering,
analyzed thousands of time-elapsed
photos of a rip current-prone section of
the beach on North Carolina's Outer
Banks. Shot hourly for 2 years from a
100-foot tower at a federal research
facility, the photos revealed dark swaths
of the ocean the researchers tied to rip
currents. The swaths expanded or
shrank as weather and surf conditions
changed -but remained in the same
place along the beach even after storms.
"We've identified some that start in
May and last until September,"
Rip currents typically occur as water
pushed between a sandbar and the beach
rushes seaward through a channel in the
bar. MacMahan's research found that
these channels persist even as wave
action moves the sandbar toward the
beach. Only a particularly large storm
or hurricane moves the channels, the
The study shows that rip currents
likely are much more common than had
been thought, becoming noticeable
and dangerous -only when storms or
particularly strong tides create a strong
current. The dangerous currents move at
about three feet per second, as fast as an
Olympic swimmer in a 50-meter sprint,
MacMahan said the new findings
suggest that certain parts of the shoreline
may be more prone to rip currents than
others, and that once coastal engineers
know more about the ingredients of a
dangerous rip current they may be able
to predict when one will occur.
In Florida, rip currents resulted in an
average of 19 deaths annually between
1989 and 1999, more deaths than caused
by hurricanes, tornadoes, storms and
lightning combined, according to a study
by the National Weather Service's East
Central Florida Rip Current Program.
Rip currents caused fatalities in 24 of
Florida's 25 counties with sandy beaches.
The two-year UF study, funded with
a $60,000 grant from Florida Sea Grant,
is only half completed. This year,
MacMahan plans to use a personal
watercraft equipped with a global
positioning system, depth meter and
other equipment to learn more about the
size and shape of the sandbar channels,
among other information.
Contrasting the earlier research, based
at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers field
research laboratory in Duck, N.C., this
year's field work is set for Ormond Beach
in Volusia County. There, a video camera
attached to a lifeguard stand already is
recording pictures of rip currents along
part of the beach.
Early Warnings For Rip Currents
The 2001 Graduate Student Forum,
held on April 6th, offered UF students
the opportunity to present research
projects, creative works, and perform-
ing arts to other members of the
University faculty judged the entries
based on the presenter's ability to
adequately represent their work.
The winners in each category were:
1. Marcela Von Reitzenstein
2. Julian Bartolome
3. Antonio Landaeta
1. Caroline Danda
2. Yajaira Bastardo
3. Rhonda Hackshaw
1. Rebecca Hill
2. Olaf Werder
3. Jaemin Jung
1. Sadie Coberly
2. Yasmin Cardoza & Brian Riewald
3. Raul Villanueva
1. Gabriella Scollo
2. Roxanne Hudson
3. Alyson Adams Scholar
1. Vijayalakshmi Ramakrishnan
2. Christopher Bowman
3. Natalie Love
1. Kelley Smith
2. Irene Murphy
Human Physiology and Medicine
1. Peter Magyari
2. Karen Perrin
3. Brian Raisler
1. Soo Yeon Kwon
2. Intira Coowanitwang
3. Vikram Arya
1. Dina Richman
2. Matthew Pettersen
3. Lisa Meltzer
Abstracts of all the presentations are
available at the following website: http:/
A Time of Discovery
This inaugural issue of Excelhighlights the accomplishments of some of the 8,600 graduate
students at the University of Florida who are engaged in a diverse array of academic pursuits. It
also shows how the scholarship learned at UF is being applied by our alumni.
The reputation of an institution is, in large part, measured by the excellence of its graduate
students. They provide invaluable support to a complex research enterprise, assist in promoting
an undergraduate teaching mission and enlighten campus life and society. Our graduate
students help to develop the technologies of the future, discover ways to improve the health of
our citizenry, reshape our culture both socially and economically, and create beauty in word,
image, music and thought.
Graduate students are deeply involved in supporting the research and teaching missions of
the university as well as volunteering their time to activities that benefit their fellow students
and the Gainesville community.
The University of Florida is keenly aware that ecomonic, cultural and technological changes
are shrinking the world. The campus is becoming increasingly internationalized and culturally
diverse. The institution and its faculty embrace and promote these changes. Our graduate
students have the opportunity to interact with and learn from individuals from many different
backgrounds and cultures and hold many different beliefs. This is truly a time of discovery for
our students, faculty and the University of Florida.
Kenneth J. Gerhardt, Ph.D.
.. UNIVERSITY OF
News For & About
E University of Florida
Gradu ate Students
Gainesville, FL 32611-5515
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