All posts by Erin Goergen

Explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) at STEM by the Bay! 

SPC’s new Bay Pines STEM Center,  located at 4723 Bay Pines Terrace in St. Petersburg, is Photo of SPC Bay Pines STEM Centerdedicated to supporting collaboration and training opportunities for students in STEM disciplines.  In collaboration with SPC’s Tampa Bay SEEDs Scholarship Program, the STEM Center is hosting the STEM by the Bay Conference, Workshops, and Service events this January 12, 13, and 15.

This FREE event is open to all SPC students!  Registration for this event can be for a single day, or for all three days.

Below is a description of what will be occurring on each day.

Want to talk to individuals in STEM fields and see how they got there?    

This event will start on Friday, Jan. 12,  with  concurrent talks by professionals in STEM fields.  After the talks, there will be a working lunch where students will have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with faculty and professionals in different STEM disciplines. The first day of the event will end with a student poster session.

STEM by the Bay speakers include:

  • Erica Moulton, Welcome to STEM
  • Dr. Diane Hickey-Davis , Best Practices for Giving a Technical Talk that Doesn’t Suck
  • Dr. Toni Galvin , Studying Outbursts from the Sun: Global and Personal Perspectives
  • Kevan Sheldan, The IT Data Trail
  • Dr. Phil Gravinese, The Possible Effects and Consequences of Climate Change on Florida’s Stone Crab Fishery
  • Christian Rubach, Emerging Technology Applications in Business Software

Want hands-on experiences to see which STEM field fits you best?

On Saturday, Jan. 13, there will be 11 different hands-on workshops to choose from including:

Morning Session
9 a.m. – noon

  • Make and Program Circuits with Arduino: Learn to create a simple circuit with play-dough and then learn to blink a light using some simple programming through an Arduino.
  • Food Science: Participants will focus on chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology of FOOD! Specific topics may include molecular gastronomy, food pathogen detection, and GMOs in the supermarket.
  • Citizen Science: Participants will have an opportunity to collect data and learn how to properly process and submit data for a number of different ongoing projects. Topics may include: Invasive species reporting, microplastics, water quality, and species inventories.
  • How Fast Can You Go? The tortoise and the hare decided to have a race. Everbody, most of all the hare thought the hare would win the race because he hopped so much faster than the toritoise plodded…but did he? Explore math and physics in this workshop to see who really won, and why.
  • Introduction to ROV’s: Participants will start with a simple ROV build in the lab, learning ROV terminology and challenges of operating in the marine environment. We will then fly the ROVs in a test tank and conduct some troubleshooting.

Afternoon Session
1 – 4 p.m.

  • STEM Communication:In this workshop, students will have an opportunity to get hands-on help with their CV, developing their online profile through LinkedIn and other professional networking sites. In addition, activities will examine successfully conducting group work and interviewing.
  • Biostatistics: Participants will look at a variety of ways to analyze STEM data using statistics in EXCEL
  • How to Code a Robot: Participants will learn to program robots with coding.
  • Introduction to Drones: Participants will learn about drones and their applications, followed by a demonstration of drones.
  • Introduction to ROV’s :Participants will start with a simple ROV build in the lab, learning ROV terminology and challenges of operating in the marine environment. We will then fly the ROVs in a test tank and conduct some troubleshooting.
  • Sun Science: Participants are introduced to the idea that light is our means of studying the Sun. They will use UV detecting beads to experiment with artificial light and sunlight and participants will set up an outdoor investigation to find out how the size and position of shadows relate to the position of the Sun in the sky and then construct sundials and use them to track the Sun’s position over time.

Want to give back?

STEM by the Bay will conclude on Monday, Jan. 15, with a National Day of Service from 9 a.m. -2 p.m.  Working with Keep Pinellas Beautiful, volunteers will conduct a shore-line clean up of the Bay Pines property as well as construct a native plant garden for the STEM Center.

For more information:

To register :

SPC students visit USF STEM labs

Students at USF

On April 15, 2016 SPC’s Tri Beta National Biological Honor Society and the NSF STEM Scholars made a trip to USF to tour the labs and get an introduction to the research programs in Environmental Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, and Bioengineering and Biomedical Sciences.

Environmental Science

and Engineering

This tour took students to see the Membrane Biotechnology Lab led by Dr. Yeh where we learned about his lab’s work on new ways to treat waste water to not only reduce water consumption but to also increase resource recovery from waste water.  We also visited the Ecology and Public health Lab of Dr. Rohr,  learned about biogeochemistry in the lab of Dr. Lewis, and water quality analysis in Dr. Harwood’s lab.  Our last stop was to the USF Herbarium where we learned about the history behind the herbarium and the process of collecting and preserving plants.

“I really enjoyed the lab tours.  It reminded me of how everyone is so different and not type-A.    I really enjoyed listening to the current projects they are working on.  It definitely inspired me to continue my research.  I think my favorite part was the herbarium portion of the tour.  Mainly because I could tell he was prepared for our visit and he really enjoys his job.  He is passionate about his work and the work he is doing at USF.  I was really surprised to find out that there are plants from the 1800s!! That is just really amazing”

– Chelsea Knapp, BS Biology 2013 and Natural Sciences Lab Manager

“I had a great time on the trip to visit the USF programs. It gave a good view on the different programs and labs available at USF. I was very impressed with the work the labs were conducting and how friendly many of the lab faculty were. The tours were well conducted by enthusiastic students as well. I personally got to talk one on one with a paleontologist and it was an insightful look onto the career and industry in that field. I really appreciated the information I gained from the trip. “

– Crystal Flores, BS Biology Student and STEM scholar

Mechanical Engineering and

Computer Science

This tour took students to see the Design X Lab, the Center for Assistive & Rehabilitation Robotics Lab, the Biorobotics Lab and the Robot Perception and Action Lab.

Innovations Art Lab Design X labsoccer robot

Read more about this tour on the SPC IT Blog.

Bioengineering and

Biomedical Sciences

The final tour took students to visit the Center for Global Speech and Hearing Research, the College of Medicine, and the Immunology Lab of Dr. Ghansah.

“The trip to USF Biomedical Engineering Department was very informative. Most of the studies they were conducting had a real life application and this made it much more interesting. I enjoyed looking at all the advance laboratory equipment they had and used. My favorite part of the visit was visiting the the USF Speech-Language Clinic. Here we learned about hearing loss and some of the techniques they are using in order to prevent and fix hearing loss. USF is currently working on a drug that could reverse or prevent hearing loss. According to the researcher, they found evidence that antioxidants could be used as a preventative to hearing loss. Mice given antioxidants before a loud event were less likely to have hearing damage. They are also working on a device that can be inserted inside the ear in order to secrete stem cells. These stem cells could theoretically fix the hearing problem as it occurs. We visited the cancer research and medical department for about 45 before we had to head to class. The students there were studying pancreatic cancer cells. In particular, one experiment found that pancreatic cancer and other cancer cells were able to take advantage of the cytotoxic T cells by manipulating a hematopoeitic-resticted phosphatidylinositide phosphatase (SHIP). Overall this was a great learning experience and I would definitely recommend it to other NSF students”

– Minh Chung, BS Biology student and NSF STEM scholar



SPC Tri Beta Honor Society, STEM Scholars Volunteer to Beautify Moccasin Lake Park

students at Moccasin Lake Park beautification project

One of the many benefits of joining a club at St. Petersburg College is the ability to get off campus and participate in activities and volunteer events.  If you are interested in science and the great outdoors, one of the clubs that might be of interest is the Tri Beta National Biological Honor Society.  Based on the Clearwater Campus, Tri Beta’s goals are stimulation of scholarship, dissemination of scientific knowledge and promotion of biological research.  One way that we have accomplished this is by working with the City of Clearwater to adopt Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater.

This past Saturday March 12th, Tri Beta members, along with some of our NSF STEM scholars, spent the morning helping beautify the park.  One of the projects included planting a butterfly garden with plants that will serve as food source to butterflies, and later the birds and reptiles that are cared for at Moccasin Lake.

In addition to planting, the group also spent multiple hours helping to remove the invasive Caesar weed (Urena lobata).  This invasive species native to India and tropical Asia, has taken a foothold in the park and has become a target for removal and park restoration.

Caesar Weed vegetative structure, flower, and seed. Photo from

If you are interested in participating in activities with Tri Beta, or to find out more information about the club: or

To find out more about what our STEM Scholars are doing or how to become a STEM Scholar:

SPC welcomes new NSF STEM scholars

STEM scholars

St. Petersburg College, through funding provided by the National Science Foundation, provides scholarships for individuals pursuing a degree in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  We are pleased to announce the new scholars for the Spring 2016 term: Jonathan Gibbs, Dominic Grchan, Mirsaid Khusaynov, Keegan McQuillan, Tammy Tran, Taylor Wood (in photo), and Jorge Mejia, Terri-Ann Smith, Jonathan Korah (not pictured).

Since the inception of this scholarship program in the Spring term of 2015, a total of 32 students have been awarded scholarships. New scholars are selected each fall and spring term and are provided with a three-term scholarship totaling $6,500, support through mentoring, and STEM-related activities and internships.

How to apply

If you are or are planning on pursuing a degree in a STEM field, apply for this Tampa Bay SEEDS in STEM scholarship! Applications for the Fall 2016 semester will be accepted later this spring through the SPC Foundation Website.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be enrolled full-time in a degree or sub-plan related to:
    • Biological or natural sciences (other than medicine and clinical fields such as Medical or Dental school, etc.)
    • Physical sciences (physics, chemistry, astronomy and materials science)
    • Math
    • Computer science and information technology
    • Engineering or engineering technology
    • Environmental science technology
  • Be a U.S. citizen, national or alien admitted as a refugee
  • Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
  • Be in financial need as defined by the FAFSA
  • Have a minimum GPA at least 2.5
  • Successfully complete College Algebra (MAC 1105) and one STEM course

Once the Foundation application period for Fall 2016 scholarships opens, applicants will need to complete the SPC Foundation general scholarship application, which includes two letters of recommendation.  Applicants for the NSF scholarship will also complete a 500-word essay, an interview and submit their My Learning Plan that reflects a commitment to studying STEM.

SPC students pitch in to beautify the CL campus!

Students volunteer at Clearwater campus beautification

The college experience is a combination of the environment in the classroom together with the ambiance of nature in an outdoor setting. Providing areas on campus where students can relax, form study groups, as well as participate in course instruction outside of the classroom can greatly improve student success. On the SPC Clearwater Campus, hidden behind the Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NM) building, is one of these perfect outdoor areas- the NM Oasis Garden.

A number of years back, the original native plant garden was implemented through the hard work of John Williams and his students.  A great, but underutilized resource, the garden area recently received a make-over with the help of the hard working CL grounds crew, Tri Beta National Biological Honor Society, SGA, and numerous students from all disciplines.

With their help the entire green space behind the NM building has been converted to a teaching garden.  To add to the diversity and utility of the garden, additional components have been added: dye plants, medicinal plants, butterfly plants, and other ethnobotanical plants. The majority of the collection focuses on plants used by native Florida Indian tribes; however, other notable plants that are not considered invasive have also been included.

The garden is still a work in progress – mulch needs to be spread, plant identification tags need to be printed and placed, and seating and tables need to be added – so there is still plenty of opportunities to help out!  For more information contact Dr. Erin Goergen (

Garden before
SPC student Jovanni prepping the garden before planting.
Garden 3
SPC students Brett, Jordan, and Celene making the garden beautiful.

Botany students explore plants at Brooker Creek

Botany students at Brooker Creek

Many of the Biology classes at SPC educate students in the classroom, but also let them apply their learning outside the classroom and in the field.  This summer term, students in the Plant Biology course (BOT 3015) got to to put their new-found plant knowledge to work exploring the ecosystem at Brooker Creek Preserve.

Do you want to explore the classroom around you?  Check out some of our additional courses with field trips.

Lower division: BSC 2250c Field Biology of Florida, OCB 1000c Biology of Marine Life

 Upper Division: BSC 3312c Marine Biology with Lab, BSC 3143c Field Botany, PCB 3043 3043L Ecology

For more information about course offerings, visit the websites for Natural Sciences and Bachelor of Biology

Exploring photosynthesis through art

Photo of pigment art

Photosynthesis: the conversion of light energy to chemical energy that is stored in suguars or other orgnic compounds.


We’ve all learned this, but photosynthesis is more than that!  It provies the oxygen that we need to produce energy, it helped to create the ozone, and is a key metabolic process that supports the basis of most food chains on Earth.

In addition, the pigments that plants produce to harness the energy of the sun can also be utilized for artistic endeavors.  Although not all function directly in photosynthesis, plants produce numerous pigments – chlorophylls (green), carotenoids (yellows and orange) and phycobillins (red, purple, blue).  To explore this pigment diversity, the summer botany class (BOT 3015) utilized extracted pigments to create biological art.

pigment art

SPC supports STEM students with NSF scholarships

Student with test tubes

Last fall, St. Petersburg College was awarded a $623,740 grant to provide scholarships for individuals pursing a degree in field related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The first round of scholars began their tenure in the Spring 2015, and new scholars will be selected each fall and spring term through the duration of the grant. In addition to providing a $6500 scholarship, individuals selected for this scholarship become part of a cohort that provides additional student support through mentoring and STEM-related activities and internships.

The open period for the next round of scholars starts TODAY! If you are interested in becoming a STEM scholar, find out how to apply.

For additional information on this scholarship or eligibility and requirements, contact Dr. Erin Goergen at

STEM scholarship