Mike Ensley

CREO Staff Writer

Mike Ensley works as a staff writer for the Center of Research and Economic Opportunity at the University of West Florida.He has spent 20 years working as a journalist, graphic artist and social media director.

In that time, he has worked for the Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola Today, the Studer Community Institute and Pensacola State College, where he returned as adviser to the student newspaper, The Corsair, which he edited as a student in the early ‘90s.

When not working, Ensley is an avid comic book reader, film fanatic, music aficionado and lover of pop culture. These pursuits led him to found and chair the popular Pensacon convention that occurs every February in downtown Pensacola.

Ensley is married and outnumbered by females at home: one wife, one daughter and two cats.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Most people would agree that there’s a deep divide between the right and left in the United States but two University of West Florida researchers want to find out if those ideological differences are reflected in the legislation lawmakers introduce.

This Fall, Dr. Adam Cayton and Dr. Brian Williams of the UWF Department of Government will begin a study to classify specific actions being proposed in legislation.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

As technology evolves, so do cybersecurity threats.

Dr. Jacob Shively, assistant professor of government at the University of West Florida, recently received a GROW Institute grant from the UWF Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to begin to look at the implications of technology and security policy.

“My larger area of interest is national security and foreign policy, so naturally cyber-issues have become more and more prominent,” Shively said. “I started doing a lot of reading and wrote a paper on the topic and have recently written a research grant proposal.”

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

According to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 52 adults, or 4.7 million people, are on probation in the United States. In the Pensacola area, that number is more than 8,000 people.

Two University of West Florida Criminal Justice professors, Dr. Andrew Denney and Dr. Natalie Goulette, are offering students in their Community Corrections course a chance to learn not only effective techniques for managing offender behavior, but a chance to explore probation from the other side.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The University of West Florida's Department of Government played host to Dr. Keith Whittington, professor of politics at Princeton University, on March 21.

In his presentation, "Why Free Speech is Central to the Mission of a University," Whittington explained that while controversial speech on campus is not a new topic, it’s one that the educational community needs to discuss, as pressure to limit speech can come from all sides.

Michael Spooneybarger/CREO


Police body-worn cameras are becoming more widely used by departments to document interactions between law enforcement and the public across the United States.  

In 2015, Dr. Matthew Crow, chair of the UWF Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Dr. Jamie Snyder, assistant professor, along with colleagues from Florida Atlantic University, published a study of law enforcement leadership’s perceptions of body cam use in their work.


Michael Spooneybarger/CREO

The Holiday shopping season is officially underway and economists are predicting an increase of 3.6 percent in spending this year. John Hartman, a research scientist with UWF’s Haas Center, said there are many factors contributing to this year’s crowded stores.

“Unemployment is low, especially in the state of Florida. We see disposable income is up; our labor force participation rate is higher than it’s been last year,” Hartman said. “Everything is looking really good, especially with Florida we’re seeing this job growth that’s been sustained for the past couple of years.”

When Hillary Clinton referenced the alt-right movement’s support of opponent Donald Trump in a campaign speech, many casual observers were left wondering what exactly the alt-right was.

“Alt-right is short for ‘alternative right,’” Clinton said. “The Wall Street Journal describes it as a loose, but organized movement, mostly online, that rejects mainstream conservatism, promotes nationalism and views immigration and multiculturalism as threats to white identity.”

Michael Spooneybarger/CREO

As the final year of President Barack Obama’s presidency comes to a close, analysis has already begun of the administration’s foreign policy during his eight-year term.

While Obama has called his approach a simple one – “applying all tools at his disposal before resorting to military force” – critics have charged the administration with weak leadership and a lack of focus.

Michael Spooneybarger/CREO

History can’t be changed. But, Next Exit History, an app that catalogs important moments in time around the world is changing for the better through a new upgrade.

“We’re launching our beta version now,” said Dr. Patrick Moore, associate professor of history at the University of West Florida. “We’re just tweaking those last minute things that pop up.”

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The 2016 UWF Faculty ADVANCE Showcase, held April 8, offered a chance not only to reflect on the program’s achievements in growing the ranks of women in fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but also to look toward the future.



In 2011, UWF received a five-year ADVANCE grant from the National Science Foundation to “enhance a supportive and inclusive culture for recruiting, retaining and advancing women faculty in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).”


Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO



In just three years, ISIS has gone from an unknown entity to an international security threat, and while many know the group’s deeds, less know who they are and where they came from.


Hundreds gathered on Thursday evening at the Museum of Commerce in downtown Pensacola to hear the University of West Florida’s Dr. Jacob Shivley, a researcher who focuses on US foreign policy and national security strategies and Dr. Michelle Williams, an expert in far-right and extremist parties, spoke about the terrorist group’s identity, ideology and sustainability. 

With the recent attacks in Brussels, ISIS has once again come to the forefront of people’s minds of terrorist groups operating worldwide.

Emerging only two years ago, the movement has made an impression, but not everyone is sure who ISIS is and what their objectives are.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

There are no common defining moments or traits that determine when gender identity becomes set for human beings, but there is evidence that the understanding of where individuals fit starts at birth.

How people develop their gender identity was the topic of biologist and gender studies scholar Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling’s keynote presentation to cap the University of West Florida’s 15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference Monday evening.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Police and public interactions have been under scrutiny as more departments across the country require video surveillance of officers, first with vehicle mounted dash-cams and more recently body worn cameras, or BWCs.

Michael Spooneybarger

While it may be beautiful in a home aquarium, the aggressive and fast-reproducing lionfish is wreaking havoc in the ocean ecosystem and endangering reef habitats.

But there might be a way to keep the lionfish in check: by eating it.

Researchers and restaurateurs in Northwest Florida are looking at ways to price and prepare lionfish dishes. In fact, the fish is already on the menu at some Pensacola restaurants.