September 2019
In This Issue

Dean's Note

New Annual Scholarship for Psychology Majors

Meet Our New Faculty

2019 Convocation

UT Hosts NEH Summer Institute

Students' History Exhibit Goes Online

Elliot Mincberg to Speak at UT

Students Study Environmental Issues in Costa Rica

Have Lunch with a Professor

Faculty News

Upcoming Events
Dear Friends of SSME:

Well … there’s no doubt that the buzz on campus is back! Friday, August 23 was move-in day for the majority of UT students, and it didn’t take long for parents, siblings, grandparents and of course students to fill the campus with tens of thousands of excited and anxious bodies. And while it was as usual a fairly hot and humid day, most parents who I spoke with remarked how well organized and how helpful our continuing students and staff were in getting their freshman moved and settled into their new residence. Kudos to all those staff, faculty and students who helped with move-in day, as they helped make an exciting, but stressful day a bit less stressful.

And of course, with the new academic year comes the arrival of some new faculty as well. We are excited about our new colleagues and have provided space below for you to read about some of them.

On August 24, our college convocation was held, with approximately 350 new students filling the Fletcher Lounge to capacity, along with well over 50 faculty members in attendance. What a fabulous event and opportunity for our freshman to meet and engage with their professors even before the first day of classes. I want to personally thank our convocation speakers, faculty and staff who assisted in making this a great way to start the new academic year (read more below).

Finally, many exciting things occurred over the summer, and much of the space below is dedicated to sharing the good news. But one that I specifically would like to highlight involves the generosity of PAR, Inc. in their establishment of the PAR, Inc. Scholarship in Psychology. This new scholarship will award funds to a meritorious undergraduate student in Psychology. A big note of thanks and sincere gratitude to Kristin Greco, CEO; Dr. Bob Smith, Chairman; and their entire team at PAR, Inc. for their partnership and support of our students.

Wishing all of our students, faculty and friends at great start to the new academic year!

Jack Geller Signature
Jack M. Geller, Ph.D., Dean
New Annual Scholarship for Psychology Majors
More than forty years ago, R. Bob Smith III, PhD, and his wife, Cathy, noticed a need for psychological assessment measures that were scientifically valid and had a solid psychometric foundation. The company they created, PAR—originally known as Psychological Assessment Resources—supported researchers and clinicians who created tools that promised to benefit society and the profession of psychology. Practitioners of psychological assessment need to know that the measures they use are thoroughly vetted and well standardized—that’s how Bob practiced as a clinical psychologist, and that’s how he built his company. Today, PAR, Inc. is an industry-leading resource in psychological assessment. Bob now serves as PAR’s Executive Chairman and Founder, and Kristin Greco serves as PAR’s CEO.
R. Bob Smith III, Ph.D. and Kristin Greco of PAR, Inc.
As a result of their generosity, we are pleased to announce the establishment of the PAR Scholarship in Psychology, an annual award provided to a meritorious undergraduate student in psychology. We want to thank Kristin, Bob, Cathy and the entire PAR team for their support of our undergraduate students, and of course, their support to UT.
Meet Our New Faculty
Damien Contessa, Ph.D.
Professor of Instruction I, Sociology
Contessa earned his Ph.D. from the University of South Florida. His areas of expertise include social psychology and environmental sociology, with an emphasis on narrative and qualitative methods, more specifically the social interactions between people and wild animals in public spaces. Contessa embraces an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and scholarship, integrating sociology with contemplative pedagogy to foster a collaborative learning environment that enriches students’ well-being, personal development, and intellectual curiosity. His courses encourage developing skills, such as socially-engaged mindfulness, critical thinking, and empathy.

Day to day, Contessa is a guitarist, meditation and yoga practitioner, and hiker. 
Meredith Elzy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Psychology
Elzy earned her Ph.D. in in Clinical Psychology from the University of South Florida. She completed her clinical internship at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital where she received training in several evidence-based treatments for veterans. Her primary clinical interests are in the treatment and prevention of trauma related disorders for children, adolescents, and adults. Elzy's research interests focus on exploring interactions between socioemotional development and environmental stressors with an applied goal towards the prevention of disorders characterized by extreme emotional dysregulation (e.g., Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD).

In her spare time, Elzy enjoys spending time with her family, exploring nature, and relaxing with her dog!
Chivon Fitch, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Criminology
Fitch earned her Ph.D. from Kent State University. Her research interests focus on expanding explanations of the gendered nature of offending, the implications of race, sexuality, gender and age on victimization, the experiences of incarcerated individuals, and the impact of race and gender in navigating the justice system. Of particular interest are the experiences of under examined populations in the criminal justice system, like the aging incarcerated population and incarcerated parents.

Fitch is actively involved in professional organizations, including the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the American Society of Criminology (ASC).
Lacey Johnson, Ph.D.
Professor of Instruction I, Mathematics
Johnson earned her Ph.D. from The University of Florida. She has an academic interest in growing students' appreciation in mathematics and helping them to be successful in their studies. Her research interest lies in topology, specifically discrete Morse Theory. In addition, she has a passion for encouraging women to pursue interest and careers in STEM.

In addition to mathematics, Johnson has a passion for health and fitness. As a coach, she helped others in and outside of the community develop healthier habits to live their best lives. Johnson also mentors others to pay it forward and build their own coaching businesses.
Benjamin U. Marsh, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Marsh earned his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. He specializes in cognitive psychology and researches how cognitive processes are mediated by language and culture, mostly focusing on memory processes. More specifically, he researches how language facilitates memory retrieval, the factors that influence face recognition accuracy and how lexical structures are cognitively linked to mental representations of culture. He is also interested in phenomenological factors that influence the likelihood of having a false memory. While his research is conducted with most populations, he regularly studies how these effects manifest in people who are bilingual and bicultural.

After college, Marsh received a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Hong Kong.
2019 Convocation
Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge was crowded with an estimated 350 new students on Saturday, August 24, for a regal welcome to the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education (CSSME). A processional of CSSME faculty members, which was led by Associate Professor of Mathematics John Sumner as the Gonfalonier, entered to mark the beginning of the first CSSME Convocation. After the processional, Associate Professor of Psychology Eric Odgaard led students and faculty in singing the national anthem of the United States.

Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Mathematics Leslie Jones welcomed students and introduced speakers, which included faculty, alumni, current students and Dean Jack Geller. Alumnus Thomas Vacca, (psychology, 2014) expressed his appreciation of faculty members who inspired and assisted him in his journey as a student at UT. Dean Jack Geller concluded the program with his encouragement to our new students to go on to create their own stories at UT. 

After convocation, students had the opportunity to meet and interact with faculty members for their respective majors in breakout sessions.
CSSME Dean Jack Geller addressing new students at convocation.
Approximately 350 new CSSME students attended convocation in Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge.
Associate Professor of History Spencer Segalla wielding his Spartan sword.
UT Hosts NEH Summer Institute
Through a grant provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Associate Professor Denis Rey and Professor James López (Languages and Linguistics) co-directed a summer institute for higher education faculty that was held at UT from June 17 through July 13. During the summer institute, faculty from throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico studied the history of the Cuban immigrant communities of Florida and the important role they played in the Cuban patriot José Martí’s organization of the Cuban War of Independence.
A welcome event was held at the Tampa Bay History Center where participants heard an inaugural lecture on the immigrant world of Ybor City and dined at the Columbia Café. 
Participants on guided tour of José Martí Park in Ybor City.
Throughout the four weeks of the institute, participants studied the rise of the U.S. as a global hegemonic power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a consequence of its intervention in the Spanish-Cuban-American War from the perspective of the Cuban immigrant communities in the U.S., particularly Ybor City and Key West. Guest faculty from across the country lectured on topics such as the cultural world of the cigar worker, the Afro-Cuban community of Ybor City, Key West's revolutionary community, and the life of José Martí. Participants received guided tours of the Ybor State Museum, the Tampa Bay History Center's Cigar City Exhibit and Witt Research Center, the Special Collections at the University of South Florida and the Henry B. Plant Museum. In addition, participants screened several select Cuban films and participated in panel discussions. The institute concluded with participants presenting their research and/or teaching modules.

Videos of the guest lectures will be available as a resource on UT's Center for José Martí Studies Affiliate webpage.
The Honorable Judge Emiliano Jose (E.J.) Salcines, Jr. presenting "José Martí in Tampa: 20 Documented Visits" to institute participants.
Students' History Exhibit Goes Online
Henry B. Plant Museum - Red Cross Nursing and the War of ...

Sister Bettina Hofker Lesser, photo from Harper's Pictorial History of the War with Spain (1899) This online exhibit is based on a 2018 panel exhibit of the same name created by history students at The University of Tampa and Dr. Charles McGraw...

Read more
Elliot Mincberg to Speak at UT
Senior Fellow Elliot Mincberg of People for the American Way, will speak on Friday, September 13, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm in the Main Hall of the Sykes Chapel. Mincberg and Associate Professor William Myers will discuss federal judicial confirmations and religious liberties.

For more than three decades, Mincberg has researched and analyzed the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, religious liberty and other civil rights and liberties issues. He has served as legal director and general counsel for People
For the American Way as well as chief counsel for oversight and investigations of the House Judiciary Committee.

For more information, please contact Associate Professor William Myers at
Elliot Mincberg, senior fellow at People for the American Way
Students Study Environmental Issues in Costa Rica
This summer Political Science Professor Kevin Fridy and students in PSC 285T - Environmental Politics traveled to Costa Rica for two weeks to explore the relationship between politics, the natural environment, and human development. Fridy guided students to consider how choices on issues of environmental protection shape human development and vice versa. Their overarching objective was to explore the ways in which environmental policies, or lack thereof, benefit some while harming others. To accomplish this objective, students researched the major environmental challenges facing residents of Costa Rica today in managing their shared resources.
UT students learning about environmental challenges in Costa Rica.
In reflection of her experience studying in Costa Rica, sophomore psychology major Lyn Campbell said "I learned that a community’s ability to manage these resources is independent of their financial situation. For example, the 'poorest' community we visited, a rural fishing village on the Gulf of Nicoya, had the richest, most intricate structure for resource management. I also learned how beneficial the Spanish language is for communicating on a global scale. I’m thrilled to apply the knowledge I gained during my travels here at UT. I plan to give back to the Tampa community by volunteering in coastal cleanups and to raise my global awareness by pursuing a Certificate of International Studies with a focus on Spanish language and culture. To anyone considering studying abroad, it is a life-changing experience that will stick with me forever and I would do it all over again if I could."
Have Lunch with a Professor
Sociology Brown Bag Lunches
During the Fall 2019 semester, the sociology department will host brown bag seminars for students to learn about current research projects being conducted by our UT sociology faculty.

All seminars will be held in ICB 210 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Seminar Dates and Topics

September 25: Professor Ryan Cragun will present "Have you got anything without theism?: Perceptions of Atheists and Agnostics."

October 23: Assistant Professor Maggie Cobb will present "The Perils and Promises of Ethical Evaluation Research for Applied Sociologists: The Methodological Quagmire of 'Recidivism' and the 'Red Tent Women's Project.'"

December 4: Assistant Professor Pina Holway will present "Sexual and Romantic Relationships in Young Adulthood."

For more information, please contact Associate Professor Bruce Friesen at
Professor Ryan Cragun
Assistant Professor Maggie Cobb
Assistant Professor Giuseppina Holway
Faculty Lunch and Learn with Professor Branch

Are you interested in criminology and criminal justice?

Join Professor Kathryn Branch in Panache on Wednesday, September 4, from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm to learn about careers and courses in criminology and criminal justice and enjoy a free lunch.

Professor Branch serves as the faculty chair of the criminology and criminal justice department. Her research interests include violence against women and the intersection of gender, class, race and crime. Her current research focuses on the secondary impact of sexual assault on secondary victims such as faculty and friends of survivors.
Professor Kathryn Branch
Faculty News
Criminology & Criminal Justice
David Krahl (left) and Kathryn Branch (2nd from left) with panelists.
On May 22, Professor Kathryn Branch and Assistant Professor David Krahl spoke at an event hosted by the European & International Criminal Law Institute in Athens, Greece. Branch presented "Due Process Rights in the U.S." and Krahl presented "The Use of Deadly Force in the U.S." The other panelists discussed criminal law measures to address the problem of organized crime in Greece, and criminal law measures against corruption in Greece. Over 200 people were in attendance for the event.

Assistant Professor David Krahl authored the chapter "Resolving the Issue of Illegal Immigration: A Question of Balance" that was published in Spotlight on Current Events: Essays on Contemporary World Issues.
Assistant Professor Roshni Ladny co-authored the article " Traumatized Witnesses: Review of Childhood Exposure to Animal Cruelty" that was published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma. The objectives of their research were to synthesize the current literature on the relationship between childhood witnessing of cruelty toward animals and violence toward animals, as well as toward other humans; to review the short- and long-term trauma outcomes of witnessing animal cruelty in childhood; and finally, to discuss how these findings can be used to address the issue of childhood exposure to animal cruelty in countries where it is commonplace or culturally accepted.

The article is part of a ongoing international research project with the organization Making The Link that addresses the connection among domestic violence, animal cruelty, and childhood development of violence. Towards January of 2020, this research paper, along with other articles and reports, will be presented to the Children's Rights Committee of the United Nations in attempts to promote policy change to improve the mental health well-being of children and the humane care of stray animals.  
Associate Professors Enilda Romero-Hall and Renee Patrick (psychology) and Gül Sahin's (UT IDT alumna) paper “ ERAS, an experiential role-playing aging simulation” was published in the International Journal of Designs for Learning. Their paper describes the design and development of ERAS, an experiential role-playing aging simulation. This web-based tool was designed for psychology students to engage in a role-playing experience that serves to increase individuals’ empathy toward the elderly, as they learn about aging.
Romero-Hall, Leonor Adams (UT IDT alumna and current ODU IDT doctoral student) and Megan Osgood's (UT undergraduate student) paper “Examining the Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Usability of a Web-based Experiential Role-playing Aging Simulation using Formative Assessment.” was published in the Journal of Formative Design in Learning. Their paper focused on the formative assessment of ERAS, a web-based, role-playing simulation, to better understand its effectiveness, efficiency, and usability prior to implementation.

Romero-Hall was invited to write a response to the May MediaCommons Field Guide question: "A Digital Space to Call Home: How does homelessness and transience translate in digital spaces?" Romero-Hall’s column is titled: "What is Your New Normal? Online Learners, Instructors, and Scholars as Digital Nomads." 

Romero-Hall authored an open-ended, realistic instructional design case study. Her case study was titled “Suzie Beckett and Adam McSweeny: Developing a Role-Playing Simulation” and it was published in the fifth edition of The ID CaseBook edited by Drs. Peg Ertmer, James Quinn, and Krista Glazewski published by Routledge.
International faculty professional development (IFDS) seminar
From June 8 through June 16, Associate Professor Enilda Romero-Hall had the opportunity to visit the beautiful country of Tunisia as part of the School for International Training (SIT) faculty abroad seminar titled “ The New Tunisia: Migration and Democratic Consolidation.”

"Participation in this seminar gave me the opportunity to learn more about topics related migration in the African continent, specifically the Maghreb region. Several of our meetings with experts and NGOs focused on conversations that allow use to learn more about the social, political, and economic effects of migration in the Maghreb region, sub-Saharan Africa, and European countries." said Romero-Hall.

Her participation in the seminar was made possible by a UT International Faculty Development Seminar Award (IFDS), which is awarded to full-time faculty members by the Office of International Programs and the International Programs Committee.

Assistant Professor Suzanne Ensmann , Associate Professor Patricia Johnston , Professor Gina Almerico , and Assistant Professor Adrianne Wilson's article " Assessing Dispositions of the Online Learner (DOL): To Improve Learning Gains" was published in the Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability. The goals of their study were to determine what dispositions an online learner should possess to maximize success, evidence what those dispositions might look like with descriptive behaviors, and create a psychometrically valid and reliable instrument to offer formative evaluation as a means to track, monitor, and assess online learners' progress to ultimately improve performance.
History, Geography & Legal Studies
Assistant Professor Stephen McFarland presented "Putting Workers on the Map: Contours of 20th Century U.S. Labor Cartography" at the International Conference on the History of Cartography in Amsterdam on July 19.

McFarland's article " Spatialities of class formation: Urban sprawl and union density in U.S. metropolitan areas" was published in Geoforum. The article analyzes links between urban sprawl and labor union membership across 194 U.S. metro areas.
Professor Terry Parssinen's book The Oster Conspiracy of 1938 was named one of the 5 best books on the anti-Nazi German resistance in an article by Greg Lewis in the Wall Street Journal on July 19, 2019. Read the article online.
On June 13, Associate Professor Spencer Segalla moderated the session "Education and Assimilation in Colonial Algeria" at the Annual Meeting of the French Colonial Historical Society in Montreal, Quebec.
Associate Professor Netra Khanal was instrumental in serving on the organizing committee for the Second International Conference on Applications of Mathematics to Nonlinear Sciences that was held in Pokhara, Nepal on June 27 - 30. During the conference, Khanal presented "What is contributing to Carbon Dioxide Emission? Differential Equation Model using Functional Data Analysis Approach." Khanal discussed a differential equation to model carbon dioxide emission while considering the impact of major contributors as an input function. The proposed model is expected to be useful to understand the dynamics of major attributing variables and their impacts on the rate of change of carbon dioxide emission.
Political Science and International Studies
Part-Time Professor Nicole Ford's article " Has the ‘Soaring Polish Eagle’ Become a Renegade?" was published in The Globe Post. Ford discusses the future of democracy in Poland in regard to the independent judiciary, public media, attitudes toward migrants and freedom of expression.
Assistant Professor Ryan Welch participated in a University of Georgia Center for the Study of Global Issues (GLOBIS) program in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Welch taught "Human Rights in the European Union" with a particular focus on the civil conflict between Catholics and Protestants, better known as the Troubles. Aside from the classroom lectures, students were able to immerse themselves in past and current Irish culture by way of volunteering in the community and field trips to sites such as a traditional Irish pub, Gaelic football match, the Cliffs of Moher, and a Riverdance performance.
Associate Professor Erica Yuen co-authored " A pilot of acceptance and commitment therapy for public speaking anxiety delivered with group videoconferencing and virtual reality exposure" that was published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. The researchers conducted a pilot study to examine the feasibility and efficacy of a brief acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), intervention for public speaking anxiety delivered through group videoconferencing whereby participants are each in different physical locations, without in-person contact with the therapist or other participants during sessions. A second pilot study examined the same brief ACT group videoconferencing intervention in the first pilot study with the added component of virtual reality exposure for homework.
Associate Professor Renee Patrick co-authored " Defend, Stand By, or Join In?: The Relative Influence of Moral Identity, Moral Judgment, and Social Self-Efficacy on Adolescents’ Bystander Behaviors in Bullying Situations" that was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Extending from pertinent developmental theories, the researchers investigated the relative contributions of moral identity (i.e., viewing moral qualities as central to the self), moral judgment, and social self-efficacy to adolescents’ bystander behaviors vis-à-vis bullies. They also investigated the interactions among these variables.
Congratulations to Professor Ryan Cragun , who is a co-investigator on a research team from the University of Ottawa that has been awarded a $2.5 million (CAD) grant to study the social impact of the growing number of people who identify as having no religion..

Cragun co-authored "Valid assessment of spiritual quality of life with the WHOQOL-SRPB BREF across religious, spiritual, and secular persons: A psychometric study" that was published in the April 2019 issue of Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Their study sought to examine the World Health Organization’s Spiritual Quality of Life-9 factor structure, measurement equivalence/invariance, degree of redundancy with positive religious coping, and relationship with well-being (e.g., meaning in life, satisfaction with life, physical health, and mental health) across these 3 groups. 
Assistant Professor Pina Holway co-authored " Sexual and Romantic Relationships in Young Adulthood" that was published in the July 2019 volume of Annual Review of Sociology. The authors reviewed contemporary research on sexual and romantic relationships among young adults in the United States, noting how relationship attitudes, expectations, and experiences have changed in response to broader social and economic developments and how they vary by gender, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and sexual identity. 

Holway also co-authored "Binge Drinking in Young Adulthood: The Influence of Age at First Intercourse and Rate of Sex Partner Accumulation" that was published in the May 2019 volume of Archives of Sexual Behavior. The authors examined the association between age at first intercourse and frequent binge drinking during one’s mid-twenties and early thirties. They further explored whether this relationship was mediated or moderated by the rate at which individuals accumulated sex partners during the transition to adulthood.
Assistant Professor J. Sumerau co-authored the article " Foreclosing Fluidity at the Intersection of Gender and Sexual Normativities" that was published in the April 2019 edition of Symbolic Interaction. The article outlines a generic pattern in the reproduction of inequality that the authors call "foreclosing fluidity," the symbolic or material removal of fluid possibilities from sexual and gender experience and categorization. 

Sumerau co-authored " Continuity and Change in Gender Frames: The Case of Transgender Reproduction" that was published in the July 2019 edition of Gender and Society. Utilizing recent U.S. media coverage of transgender people who reproduce, the authors analyzed how media outlets make room for increasing societal recognition of transgender people and maintain cisnormative and repronormative traditions and beliefs in the process.
Sumerau co-authored " Alpha, Omega, and the Letters in Between: LGBTQI Conservative Christians Undoing Gender" that was published in the May 2019 edition of Gender and Society. Based on a qualitative study, the authors show how the movement for LGBTQI acceptance within U.S. conservative Protestant churches works to make gender not “omnirelevant” by challenging conservative “complementarity” narratives that posit two complementary, opposite sexes as a commandment preceding the Ten Commandments in time and importance.

Sumerau co-edited the textbook Expanding the Rainbow: Exploring the Relationships of Bi+, Polyamorous, Kinky, Ace, Intersex, and Trans People, that was published in August 2019 by Brill/Sense. This edited volume is the first comprehensive collection of research on the relationships of people who identify as bi+, poly, kinky, asexual, intersex, and/or trans that is written for an undergraduate audience. It highlights the diverse range of identities, relationship structures, and understandings of bodies, sexualities, and interpersonal relationships in the social world today. 
Providing our students with outstanding out-of-classroom experiences is a hallmark of the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education. Help support these experiences for all students. Make a small contribution today.
Upcoming Events
Mark your calendars for the following upcoming events at UT:

  • September 4: Lunch and Learn with Prof. Kathryn Branch, Panache, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • September 13: Elliot Mincberg, Sykes Chapel, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • September 25: Sociology Brown Bag with Prof. Ryan Cragun, ICB 210, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • October 16: Criminology and Criminal Justice Freshmen Social, Plant Hall, Music Room, 11:30 am - 12:40 pm
  • October 23: Sociology Brown Bag with Asst. Prof. Maggie Cobb
  • December 4: Sociology Brown Bag with Asst. Prof. Giuseppina Holway
  • December 4: Psychology Fall Research Conference, Jenkins Community Room, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
  • December 5: History Poster Expo, Plant Hall, Grand Salon, 4:00 - 6:00 pm

If you have an event that you would like advertised in the newsletter, please send your event information to Laura Gicker at