Dr. Culhane's Solar CITIES Biodigester Projects

posted Apr 25, 2017, 5:36 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Apr 26, 2017, 8:43 AM ]

Dr. Culhane from The Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS) is the co-founder of Solar CITIES. The organization has a collective goal of the emergence of true Solar Cities, places where human and non-human beings can co-evolve without the threats posed by fossil carbon and radioactive materials. This is an open-source group that Dr. Culhane utilizes to share his biodigester (mechanical stomach that breaks down organic waste) projects. 

"The Solar CITIES/Rosebud Continuum Education Center/USF Patel College Biodigester project can be described as the literal Food Energy Water NEXUS," explained Dr. Culhane. "It is the heart of sustainability in that this one central yet decentralized technology provides simple but effective solutions to our food energy water and waste management challenges, it is economically, socially, and environmentally viable, can be built anywhere by anyone, and engages students at all levels in what is possibly the best STEM curriculum activity for education and development."  

There are currently 12 active observatory sites in the Tampa/St.Petersburg area where Dr. Culhane is currently working on alongside PCGS students and faculty. Students have the option of choosing to join any of the following locations: Rosebud Continuum, Sustainable Living Center of Tampa Bay Harvest, Faith Lutheran Evangelical Church Community Garden, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), Blake High School, St. Petersburg's Urban Eco-hostel, Hillsborough Community College, Ken Black's Backyard, Koreen Brennan Permaculture Farm, Sacred Lands of St. Pete, Amara Zee Boat from the Caravan Stage Company, and USF's Sycamore Drive. There are two additional sites not in the area, the Sacred Stone Campsite at  Standing Rock and Lake Traverse Indian reservation in South Dakota and refugee camps in Jordan, which is part of a Solar CITIES project with the Clinton Global Initiative. 

The most recent development with Dr. Culhane's projects is MOSI who has partnered with USF's Patel College for this biogas community action. VIGO importing and Alessi Foods have donated 30 tanks worth $3,000 to this project. These contain balsamic vinegar which will be used to feed the biodigesters at MOSI and will serve educational as well as practical purposes for the Butterfly Garden. Dr. Culhane along with other PCGS faculty and staff attended NASA's Earth Day event to promote the Patel College of Global Sustainability programs and current sustainability projects including the biodigester. 

"Patel students are now the leaders of our trainer of trainers model, building the core technology and doing workshops on how to integrate them with sustainable food production technologies now all over the Tampa/St. Petersburg region and increasingly out into the world," said Dr. Culhane. 

Students and Alumni who are actively participating in the training and work at the Rosebud Continuum Education Center and in the 11 other observatory sites in the community include:
  • Fito Colin, student from Haiti, meeting with Haitian experts at Rosebud and at MOSI and bringing waste management solution to Haiti and Progresso Village in Tampa
  • Angela Al Fayez bringing the solution to Jordan
  • Jerry Comellas  bringing the solution to communities of Faith and the Carribean
  • Li Zhu, bringing the solution to St. Pete Ecovillage and China
  • Derrick Anderson and Alberto Juaregi working with St. Pete Ecovillage
  • Christine Barros bringing the solution to Brazil (and bringing her father and family from Brazil to our workshops regularly at Rosebud and MOSI )
  • Robin Cherry and Courtney Chinn and Sharon Wambere creating public relations and instructional material
  • Khadjetou Ba working on building both digesters and sculptures and intending to take to Mauritania
  • Margaret Rodriguez spreading the message in Colombia
  • Amanda Vasquez bringing her daughter for training at Rosebud and implementing waste management solutions at her own home.
  • Keyuan Wang and Yue Huang creating video material.

All these students have taken on lead roles in taking what they are learning in class and at Rosebud as well as our other observatory locations and translating them into the field.

IKEA Announces DIY Garden Sphere

posted Apr 10, 2017, 8:58 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Apr 12, 2017, 8:41 AM ]

IKEA launched an open source design plan for a spherical garden. This Do-It-Yourself structure was developed by IKEA's innovation lab, Space10, to enable people to gain access to locally grown sustainable food by giving them the power to do it themselves. The design plans have been made available online for free via an open source platform allowing anyone the immediate opportunity to build their own garden sphere. IKEA hopes that this sphere will stimulate interest within communities to start their own urban gardens. IKEA's intention is to provide an alternate solution to traditional farming in urban environments, where open space is a scarce resource. The sphere takes up only 2.8 x 2.5 meters of space but is customizable to each individual's intended use whether it will be a personal home garden or communal. The spherical shape was intentional so that the plants are able to receive ample light within a vertical setup. 

“It is designed to support our everyday sense of well-being in the cities by creating a small oasis or ‘pause’-architecture in our high-paced societal scenery, and enables people to connect with nature as we smell and taste the abundance of herbs and plants,” Space10 explained. “The pavilion, built as a sphere, can stand freely in any context and points in a direction of expanding contemporary and shared architecture.”

The set up for the structure will be familiar to IKEA customers. The step-by-step instructions are like any other self-assembly item purchased from IKEA and materials consist of 17 sheets of plywood, a rubber hammer, and some metal screws. 

"Local food represents a serious alternative to the global food model. It reduces food miles, our pressure on the environment, and educates our children of where food actually comes from." Space10 emphasized the benefits of installing the garden spheres and establishing community gardens. 

According to IKEA's press release, there are already plans to build these community Garden Spheres in California, Finland, Brazil, and China.

Alumna Trista Brophy Presents Her Research

posted Apr 10, 2017, 8:21 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Apr 10, 2017, 10:48 AM ]

PCGS Class of 2013 Alumna, Trista Brophy, presented her research at the 2017 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting on April 8th! Her research is titled "Environmental and Community Health in South San Diego County: A Behavior Analysis of Recreational Ocean Users Along Imperial Beach, California." The conference brings together scientist and professionals to highlight the latest research and applications and geography, sustainability, and GIS science. Trista's research was part of the session: Emerging Themes in Health and Environmental Perception. 

Trista Brophy's Abstract:
Garbage & sewage runoff into the Pacific Ocean at the shoreline along the U.S./Mexico Border region poses serious health and environmental threats. The purpose of this study is to analyze the current beach users' behavioral factors that may be linked to illness prevalence from Coronado Island to the U.S./Mexico border at Imperial Beach in San Diego County. It is a continuation of a study completed by Wildcoast and Imperial Beach Clinic in 2011. The study tries to answer the following two major questions: How have the number of illnesses reported by users along South San Diego County beaches changed in the last 5 years? What relationships exist between reported illness and beach user behavior if any? To accomplish this, a 2-page self-reporting survey was administered asking about demographics, beach recreation habits, illness and exposure information, and allowed for comments. Surveys were distributed to beach users along Imperial Beach northward to Coronado Island during May, June, and July of 2014, collecting quantitative and qualitative data. The results show that the majority of respondents did not report suffering from an illness, however, for those who did report an illness, the frequency of water entry, seasonality of water entry, entry during beach closures, and primary means of water contact was significantly correlated to illness prevalence.


posted Apr 10, 2017, 8:08 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Apr 13, 2017, 8:00 AM ]

The Space Symposium, held at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, has brought together space leaders from around the world to discuss, address and plan for the future of space since the inaugural event in 1984. It has become widely known as the premier U.S. space policy and program forum and as the "must attend" opportunity for information on and interaction among all sectors of space.

The event consists of seven tracks that attendees can choose from: Symposium Program, Tech Track, New Generation Space Leaders, Cyber 1.7 Classified, Space Classified, Educators and Students, and Affiliated Events.
The Patel College of Global Sustainability's (PCGS) Internship Coordinator, Rhiannon Roberts, was in attendance this past week at the 33RD Space Symposium as a moderator for the Tech Track. The Tech Track sessions offer registrants an opportunity to hear from some of the government and industry leaders in space technology development and to learn about recent advances from presenters in a series of 20-minute tech talks. The papers submitted by the presenters featured are available on the Space Symposium website

Rhiannon had the opportunity to network with several leaders in the space community such as former astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Jeff Bezos who is the founder of Blue Origin and other featured speakers. She also attended the Space for Earth discussion where climate change monitoring through satellite data and utilizing digital media to communicate that data was discussed. Rhiannon also participated in a video in which she discussed PCGS, the importance of aerospace communication, social media strategies for STEM education, and sustainability awareness. 

Year after year, the Space Symposium keeps up its reputation as the "must attend" space industry event. Mark your calendars for the 34TH Space Symposium on April 16-19, 2018.

Student Spotlight: Charles Grisafi

posted Apr 7, 2017, 7:18 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Apr 10, 2017, 12:16 PM ]

Charles Grisafi is a Master of Global Sustainability student with a concentration in Coastal Sustainability. He has acquired a new position as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Regional Coordinator for Florida and the Caribbean. His new role will require him to lead and coordinate efforts in research to prevent and reduce the impacts of marine debris in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

The position will focus on supporting marine debris projects and action planning in partnership with key stakeholders including state and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, tribes, academia, and industry. Charles will also work to help change behavior in the public through education and outreach initiatives.

Charles encourages current PCGS students to reach out to him with any questions about the NOAA’s Marine Debris Program or about how to get involved. You can contact him via 

PCGS Announces Summer 2017 Courses

posted Mar 9, 2017, 7:05 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Mar 9, 2017, 11:07 AM ]

The Patel College of Global Sustainability is excited to announce that it will be offering all core courses for the Summer 2017 semester. PCGS will also be offering summer courses for the Climate Change, Energy, Water, Tourism, and Coastal Sustainability concentrations. 

PCGS will also be introducing a new featured United Nations course titled "The Age of Sustainable Development" which will fulfill an elective requirement for all students. This course consists of an on-campus and online component. It will also include a class project in the Blue Community UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories as well as an optional trip to the United Nations during the High Level Political Forum. Students will earn a certificate upon successful completion from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Academy. 

The summer courses will be available on campus while some will be offered online. Tune in to our next newsletter for registration dates, class schedules, and further details will be announced soon. 

Transportation's Green Revolution

posted Mar 9, 2017, 6:56 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Mar 9, 2017, 11:55 AM ]

The next green revolution is public transportation. Technologies are advancing the movement with self-driving taxis, wifi-enabled traffic control, eco-conscious freeways, and electric light rail trains. 

David Taylor, Envision Sustainability Professional, is a Strategic Envision Advisor to the Construction Project 1 for California's High-Speed Rail System. When completed, it will cover 800 miles with as many as 24 stations between Sacramento to San Diego. 

"The system is vital to the meet the state's goal of a multi-modal response to escalating congestion and the need for continued growth and economic prosperity," said Taylor. "These conditions add stress to community cohesion, natural assets, air quality, and water resources."

Taylor will be presenting "Envision - Helping Deliver the Next Generation of Infrastructure" to Dr. Tsegaye's Systems Thinking class at the Patel College of Global Sustainability. The purpose of the presentation is to provide Dr. Seneshaw's students with an understanding of the importance of infrastructure, rationale, and using Envision for decision making. 

There is an evident global shift toward using more renewable energy and reducing air pollution as well as an incorporation of advances in the internet and digital communication technologies. 

The most rapidly growing transportation revolution has been shared ride and public ride services such as Uber and Lyft which are the most recognized. These companies are now investing in electric vehicles and self-driving technology. Financial Times announced that Mercedes-Benz is partnering with Uber to run a network of self-driving cars. A new model for transportation is developing "one in which self-driving cars are not owned by individuals, but instead by car companies and transportation networks, and summoned when needed," as emphasized by the Daimler deal. Ford and BMW have also been working on autonomous systems for public use. This is a  revolutionary industry that will transform how societies function.

Sustainability Certification Programs

posted Mar 6, 2017, 8:57 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Mar 9, 2017, 10:13 AM ]

The Patel College of Global Sustainability will be hosting several spring workshops for sustainability certification programs. The first workshop will be for the LEED Green Associate exam preparation in PCGS Room 136 on March 24th and March 31st . The LEED Green Associate credential denotes basic knowledge of green design, construction, and operations. LEED Green Associates have a documented, up-to-date understanding of the most current green building principles and practices, and are committed to their professional future. The workshop sessions will consist of three hours of study tips and practice examples. Attendees will receive a copy of the study guide as well as a $75 scholarship offered to current PCGS students after completion of the course. 
PCGS will also be hosting an introductory seminar on April 14th for the GIS exam in Room 136. This workshop will include a GIS/GPS mapping overview,  GPS equipment demonstration, asset management overview, GIS and asset management programs demonstration.

RSVP via our facebook page or contact Chastity at to secure your spot! 

Student Spotlight: Jihye Jeong

posted Mar 6, 2017, 8:57 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Mar 10, 2017, 9:20 AM by Taylor Finke ]

Jihye Jeong will be graduating this spring with an MA in Global Sustainability from the Patel College. Her undergraduate degree was in business administration which lead to her declaring the Entrepreneurship concentration. Jihye plans on working in management and marketing fields and is currently a marketing intern at Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. Her roles include managing their official social media accounts and website. Jihye has also assisted in the planning for the Annual Breakfast Awards and Tropical Night events for Tampa Bay Beautiful's VIP guests. 

The research in rhetoric and environmental communication that Jihye conducted in her "Communicating the Value of Sustainability" course has been very useful in her internship at Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. 

"I learned how to communicate about sustainability, and practice applying that knowledge to the production of written documents and digital artifacts," said Jihye. 

Jihye is finding the internship with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful to be a great experience allowing her to apply the theoretical content learned from her PCGS courses. She has also been able to network and share ideas with environment experts. 

Student Spotlight: Morgan Eastman

posted Mar 6, 2017, 8:56 AM by Ulanna Carrijo Bento   [ updated Mar 9, 2017, 9:33 AM ]

Morgan Eastman is a Master of Global Sustainability student in the Entrepreneurship concentration, who is currently interning at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. As part of her role on the Scuba Dive Operation Team, she is responsible for maintaining the dive locker room, equipment, and assisting the supervisor with safety protocols. In addition to those duties, she also maintains the Clearwater Marine Aquarium animal residents' habitats. Her favorite animal thus far is the river otter named Cooper who was hit by a car in 2001 causing it to become a permanent Clearwater Marine Aquarium resident. 

"The information I learned from my 'Concept's and Principles of Sustainability' course has been incredibly helpful, I am able to assess people's enthusiasm when they come to the aquarium to learn about our research efforts, rescue and release, and innovative marine science education," said Morgan. 

Morgan has started developing a few potential projects that will improve the aquarium's accessibility to the deaf using the knowledge she has acquired from the "Economics and Finance of Sustainability" course to figure out the logistics of obtaining necessary equipment and plan a special event at the aquarium for deaf visitors. She also intends to incorporate the aquarium's innovative education curriculum to make it accessible in order to promote diversity in the STEM realm. 

This internship is serving as a learning experience for Morgan who plans on incorporating entrepreneurship with marine conservation after graduating from the Patel College of Global Sustainability. 

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