Richard Conn

CREO Staff Writer

Richard Conn works as a staff writer for the Center for Research and Economic Opportunity at the University of West Florida.He has 18 years of experience working for newspapers in Florida, Massachusetts and Tennessee.He has won several awards, including from the Tennessee Press Association and the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He most recently worked at the Daytona Beach News-Journal and was previously a staff writer for The Tennessean.

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Conn is a lover of classic rock and blues music and a fan of New York Yankees baseball.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Lionfish have long been a prodigious threat to native species in the Gulf of Mexico, taking a big bite out of the region’s vital ecosystem as well as its economy.

However, the invasive species are not just doing harm in the warm waters of the Gulf. They have also moved into the mouths of local river systems, a researcher at the University of West Florida has discovered.

“Those are big nursery grounds for juvenile (native species of fish), a lot that are economically and ecologically important here,” said Amy Brower, a graduate student in the Department of Biology.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Ron Finley started a food revolution when he planted vegetables on a curbside dirt strip outside his home in South Central Los Angeles.

His initiative was not only geared to stop the inequality he saw, in which some enclaves had easy access to fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, while others lived in what he terms “food prisons” - having to drive miles upon miles to get the same produce. It was also to help build communities.  The design of his gardens are just as important as the food he plants in them.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The 16th annual Women’s Studies Conference at the University of West Florida featured multi-disciplinary presentations of academic papers, posters and artwork from students, along with an address from the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy to fly into space.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

University of West Florida students and community volunteers on Saturday saved native plants from a site in Gulf Breeze that is slated for development.

Those plants, which ranged from beach rosemary to small blueberry trees, were moved from the now barren property behind the Gulf Breeze Zoo to the University’s greenhouse. They will be stored there until they are ready to be replanted and preserved at UWF’s Community Garden.

The 16th annual University of West Florida Women’s Studies Conference is slated for March 24 at the UWF Commons Conference Center.

This year’s conference will feature a number of student presenters as well as keynote speaker, Capt. Wendy B. Lawrence, a retired astronaut and naval aviator. Lawrence was one of the first two female helicopter pilots to make a long deployment to the Indian Ocean as part of a carrier battle group, according to her biography from the U.S. Naval Academy. In addition, Lawrence, who retired from NASA in 2006, is a veteran of four space flights.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Among the projects funded by BP because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the deployment of artificial reefs along Florida’s Panhandle as part of an effort to restore crucial habitats for fish and other marine animals.

University of West Florida researchers are part of a team conducting a study to see how effective some of those reefs are in creating a productive ecosystem that will attract fish and help revitalize the commercial fisheries affected by the spill.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The pesticide DDT has been found in sediment samples from the Escambia River and its adjacent wetlands, a post-doctoral research associate at the University of West Florida has discovered.

Dr. Geoffrey Marchal, who was hired in April to begin the research, is now testing those sediment samples to see how readily available the pollutant is to the many diverse species that inhabit the bay.

“That’s the big concern,” Marchal said. “If the DDT in the sediment is bioavailable and can go through the food chain, then we have an issue.”

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

 

 University of West Florida students were among those leading teams of citizen scientists that surveyed plants and animals at the first Gulf Islands BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival.

 

While BioBlitz events have been held at parks in the National Park Service system for years, Saturday marked the first such festival at Gulf Islands National Seashore. 

 

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

More than 180 exhibits representing the gamut of research were on display Thursday at the University of West Florida Student Scholars Symposium.

The annual event held at the UWF Field House highlights the creative and scholarly work of graduate students, undergraduate students and faculty at the University.

 

 

  Students in the University of West Florida’s Department of English have recently gotten the opportunity to present their research at prestigious conferences across the country. 

 

michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

 The Florida Public Archaeology Network kicked off its “Beyond Our Backyard: Archaeology Around the World” lecture series in March with a presentation about the importance of four historic shipwrecks.  

 

Dr. Greg Cook, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of West Florida, gave a lecture entitled “Maritime Connections in the Atlantic World from the Perspectives of Four Shipwrecks.”

 

It was the first of three lectures that is being presented by FPAN in celebration of Florida Archaeology Month. 

 

Florida Public Archaeology Network

A trail that documents Pensacola’s rich maritime history is slated for the downtown area later this year.

The "Pensacola Maritime Heritage Trail” is the brainchild of Dr. Amy Mitchell-Cook, chair of the Department of History at the University of West Florida, and Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, associate director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Tech-savvy students from around the region gathered April 1-3 at the University of West Florida’s Pensacola Campus to square off in the inaugural CodeFest software-development competition.

CodeFest, where computer programmers, graphic designers and others interested in the software industry collaborate with professional mentors to bring a product to the demo stage, was organized by Dr. Brian Eddy, an assistant professor at UWF. Participants had 36 hours to come up with an idea for new educational software and develop it into a functioning demo.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

A sun-kissed slice of beach owned by the University of West Florida can provide a perfect laboratory for students.

Dr. Phillip Schmutz, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at UWF, and students in his geomorphology class took advantage of that setting on a recent Sunday. They took a field trip and used different measurement techniques to survey the University’s beach property.

“We were conducting both dune and beach survey measurements, looking at vegetation across the dune, as well as swash zone measurements,” Schmutz said.

Think before you click on a link, regularly check your social media security settings and pay more attention to what information you could accidentally reveal in a “selfie” posted online.

Those were some of the tips given by a cybersecurity expert who spoke March 9 at the University of West Florida Conference Center.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The highly invasive lionfish has been become a dominant predator since it was first documented in the Gulf off Pensacola in 2010.

Armed with venomous spines, a voracious appetite and no natural predator, it’s common to find 50 to 60 lionfish on just one reef, said Andy Ross with the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition.
But what native species are these aggressive invaders eating?

“That’s what you guys are here to help us figure out,” University of West Florida professor Jeff Eble recently told students in a marine biology class at Gulf Breeze High School.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

An internationally recognized scholar on the Dead Sea Scrolls recently told crowds here about the religious significance of the ancient texts and detailed the lives of the scribes who wrote them.  

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

While ancient Rome’s upper class is well-chronicled in history books, little is known about the swath of less well-to-do citizens who accounted for the bulk of the empire’s population.

“People without history is often what we call them in anthropology,” said Dr. Kristina Killgrove, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of West Florida.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The University of West Florida celebrated the promotion of two of its own to the rank of full professor during the first Rite of Passage lecture series of 2016.

Honored for their achievements during the event held Jan. 15 at the UWF Argonaut Athletic Club were Dr. Mohamed Khabou, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Science and Engineering, and Dr. Carla Thompson, professor of research and advanced studies in the College of Education and Professional Studies.

University of West Florida

Though the housing market recovery is in full swing, a continued “weakened climb out” from the Great Recession has stymied its full potential.

Dr. Rick Harper, associate vice president for Research and Economic Opportunity at the University of West Florida, delivered that message and an economic forecast for 2016 during a meeting Wednesday of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors and the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa-Walton Counties held at the Ramada Plaza Resort in Fort Walton Beach.

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