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LIFE at UCF Honors 3 Women Faculty Members for Impactful Initiatives

The Learning Institute for Elders (LIFE) at UCF each year celebrates successful projects of UCF women faculty members that advance student success.

Left to right: Campbell, Thaxton and Walters.

Each year during Women’s History Month, LIFE at UCF generously celebrates women faculty for their contributions. For 2020, the award criteria focused on commitment to do extraordinary things, designed to celebrate a successful initiative spearheaded by a woman faculty member.

“LIFE at UCF has been honored to be a part of celebrating women faculty for several years now,” said Leslie Collin, executive director of LIFE at UCF. “Our contribution to an annual award recognizes the extraordinary contributions they make and resonates with our members and our goal of working with our UCF partners in a meaningful way.”

Here are the 2020 winners:

Laurie Campbell, assistant professor, Learning Sciences and Educational Research, Community of Innovation and Education

After a conversation with a colleague, assistant professor Laurie Campbell realized teachers who were about to graduate and head to the classroom needed more experience with hands-on instruction with technology. Due to larger class sizes, limited budgets and technology that moves extremely fast, students weren’t getting as much experience with technology as they were with content. Campbell decided to do something; she created Technology Capstones.

Technology Capstones is a class that students take just before graduation. The experience focuses on STEM-based activities, such as augmented reality, virtual reality and electronics. The students participate in different activities, learning how to implement them into their own classrooms. Campbell says this promotes deeper learning, and helps give students experience with STEM technology before stepping into their own classroom.

Terry Thaxton, professor, English, College of Arts and Humanities

Professor Terry Thaxton founded the Literary Arts Partnership in 2003, with the goal of linking UCF to local schools, charities, prisons and residential treatment facilities with creative writing workshops. Since its inception, the LAP has created over 200 initiatives crossing disciplines from history to sociology. More than 3,000 of all majors have helped bring workshops to the community.

The benefits are two-fold: Students develop many skills including public speaking and leadership, while working creatively to find new ways to meet community needs. Students have held poetry workshops for domestic violence survivors and produced creative writing magazines for disadvantaged youth and people who are incarcerated.

Along with her work on the LAP, Thaxton’s continued expansion of the project through other initiatives, such as the Florida Prison Education Project, demonstrates that her civil engagement is wide-ranging and genuine.

Linda Walters, professor, Biology, College of Sciences

While most researchers focus on a specific threat, professor Linda Walters has focused on the Indian River Lagoon in Central Florida’s backyard. She’s explored the link between recreational boat wakes and oyster reef deaths, the impact of invasive species, algal blooms and microplastic pollution among other topics.

Walters’ research has received 197 grants and contracts, totaling $13.85 million from agencies that include the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

She also partners with more than 20 K-12 classrooms to grow mangroves for future restoration and practice citizen-science tracking of microplastics. She also leads the annual STEM Day at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando. These efforts have garnered Dr. Walters two national awards from scientific societies, plus Disney Conservation Hero status and a day named in her honor in Volusia County.