2018-19 Annual Report

Innovation Institute shares the Gulf’s stories with community

The University of West Florida Innovation Institute’s Gulf Stories is a series of video-based, online courses that are free and open to anybody. They explore UWF’s deep connection to research in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The idea behind the Gulf Stories has always been to showcase the deep connection UWF has now and has always had with the Gulf of Mexico and other local bodies of water,” said Christian Garman, director of innovative program development at the Innovation Institute.

The first course, Mother, Mother Ocean, launched in 2017 and highlighted the work of five UWF faculty in a variety of fields. Faculty members and topics included Dr. Amy Mitchell-Cook’s work on shipwrecks, Dr. Scott Keller on logistics, Dr. Klaus Meyer-Arendt’s research on the impact of hurricanes, Dr. John Bratten’s work on underwater archaeology, and Dr. Bill Huth’s examination of the effects of the invasive lionfish.

“The faculty we’ve highlighted in both of the Gulf Stories courses are doing amazing research on and in the Gulf of Mexico. And many times, their work has worldwide impact or application,” Garman said.

In 2018, Gulf Stories 2 launched and featured Dr. Wade Jeffrey’s research on the effects of ultraviolet radiation on marine microbes, Dr. Jane Caffrey’s research on human impact on coastal environments, Dr. Alexis Janosik’s research on molecular ecology and the evolution of invertebrates and fish, Dr. John Pecore’s work in citizen science and purposeful learning, and Dr. Thomas Asmuth’s work merging art and marine science.

Additional outreach beyond the free, online course includes an hour-long video loop played inside hotel rooms on Pensacola Beach, which encourages guests to take the full course.

In addition, the division launched “Gulf Stories Moments” on WUWF 88.1-FM, Northwest Florida’s NPR member station. “Gulf Stories Moments” is a four-minute radio program that airs every Monday and features UWF researchers discussing their work with Garman. “Gulf Stories Moments” episodes are available for download on NPR’s website, npr.org, and at wuwf.org.

To learn more or sign up for courses, visit uwf.edu/gulfstories.