Rick's Research Café

Rick's Research Café is a monthly seminar series that gives the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus faculty an opportunity to present their unfinished research projects. The goal is to facilitate constructive feedback from cross-disciplinary peers to help the author improve the quality of his/her work prior to publication.

If you would like to present your ongoing research in this forum, please email Dr.Melissa Sloan at or Dr. Murat Haner at

Prior Research Presentations

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Research Pecha Kucha

April 4, 2019

Queen Meccasia Zabriskie
Embodying Traditions: Black Performance and the Long Struggle for Cultural Equity in Urban America

Valerie Lipscomb
Acting Your Age: Fighting Ageism through Drama

Chris Ruva
Fair Trial v. Free Press: Pretrial Publicity's Influence on Jurors' Verdicts, Impressions, Memories, & Emotions

Cassandra Yacovazzi
Think Pink: How Mary Kay Built an Empire on Lipstick and Applause

Mike Snipes
Economics as Mythology

Jess Grosholz
The Transformative Nature of Entrepreneurial Education in Prison

"Research Misconduct"

March 28, 2019
Lynn Wecker

Lynn Wecker, Ph.D., was a faculty member at the USF Morsani College of Medicine for 28 years, and as of January 1, 2019 became Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus.  She served on the USF Research Misconduct Committee for 10 years, presented talks on research misconduct yearly as part of a series sponsored by USF Research Compliance and Integrity, and served as course director for The Responsible Conduct of Research, a required course for all Ph.D. students in the Morsani College of Medicine.

Her presentation on Scientific Integrity will cover topics including research misconduct and policies, the protection of humans and animals, data acquisition, management and ownership, collaborative studies, authorship and publication, peer review, conflict of interest, intellectual property, and mentor and trainee responsibilities.  She will also present the principles and best practices issued by the Scientific Integrity Consortium in 2018.

"How to Publish Successfully"

January 17, 2019
Faizan Ali

Publication must be seen as an important, if not the most important, part of the research process. However, writing research papers for academic journals is not easy and is also very competitive. This session gives some tips and hints on how to shape a successful paper by explaining the reasons and motives behind publishing, finding the suitable journals, the publication process and how to position the research papers to make them more attractive.

"Increasing Research Impact: How to Earn 10,000 Citations of Your Work"

December 4, 2018
Tom Becker

Citations are one commonly used measure of research impact, the idea being that more important work tends to get cited more often.  During this talk I will discuss several key strategies for increasing impact, including identifying your meat and potatoes area, the number of projects to keep in the pipeline, choosing coauthors, and others.  There will be audience discussion of strategies so that we can learn from each other.

"The Effect of Host Photos on Purchase Intention In Peer to Peer Accommodations"

November 7, 2018
Cihan Cobanoglu

In recent years, the shared housing rental platform (“short-term rental platforms”), designed to serve the Peer-to-Peer market, has been flourishing and received extensive attention from the business community and academia. However, there have been few studies that focused on the effect of hosts’ personal information on consumer purchase behavior. This research selects the host’s photo as an entry point in view of its important position in the site interface, and builds a conceptual framework among host photo, reputation, initial trust and consumer purchase probability based on the Face Processing Theory.  300 valid scenario-based questionnaires were used for hypothesis testing. Results show that photo-based social impression perception and the reputation both help consumers to form initial trust, which ultimately affects consumer purchase probability. In addition, photo-based perceived social impression has greater impact on initial trust and purchase probability than reputation. Results will provide some guidance for the marketing management of the sharing platform companies.

“Assuring Cloud Computing Using Game Theory”

October 17th, 2018
Kevin Kwiat

Cloud computing is rapidly becoming a standard resource in the IT field. Given its astounding growth, it is becoming exceedingly challenging for security to keep pace. The recent vulnerabilities called Meltdown and Spectre and their impact on the data centers of cloud computing providers underscore this claim. The argument that current security measures in the cloud are insufficient has merit. The extent of security vulnerabilities in the cloud is compounded by the unique structure of the cloud. Many different users run virtual machines (VMs) on the same physical hardware. Under this condition, one user’s VM may be indirectly attacked when a direct attack is launched on a different user’s VM on the same hypervisor. That is possible because the hypervisor may have unknown security vulnerabilities that, once compromised, can allow an attacker to permeate every VM on the targeted hypervisor. This talk delves into how the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory applied game theory to find a solution to this security challenge. Game theory was chosen because it is deemed as having the capability to model conflict in a comprehensive yet comprehensible manner.

“Command, Control, and Communication Needs of Formation Flying (Swarm) CubeSats”

September 26, 2018
Ehsan Sheybani

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is a sensing method in which a moving transceiver can generate large, higher resolution images by creating a “synthetic aperture”. Swarms of Cube Satellites are a novel method of implementing SAR as they are groups of rapidly moving sensors. Central to the implementation of SAR on a cubesat platform is managing the swarm and calculating the position and orientation of each of the cubesats in reference to both the earth and one another to enable an SAR algorithm. To achieve this end, 3 phases of testing are proposed. The first phase is designing, manufacturing, and testing the retro directive arrays in a lab setting, and then a mobile platform. Next a satellite to house the system will be prototyped. Finally, the satellite will be fabricated and tested to prove the system can be deployed onto it. Synthetic Aperture Radar is a widely used Radar for civilian as well as military applications. Utilizing the cubesat form factor to implement an SAR will allow faster, cheaper deployment of LEO-based SAR systems.

Comparative Study of Commonality and Differences in the Four Major Types of NoSQL Databases with Reference to the CAP Theorem

April 3, 2018
Room B335
Sunita Lodwig

Abstract: NoSQL (Not Only Structured Query Language) databases represent the storage mechanisms for Big Data. Four different types of NoSQL databases are acknowledged – Key-Value, Document, Columnar and Graphic. Each of these databases is meant to store and manage primarily unstructured data (aggregates) in large volumes. The four types of NoSQL database have specific nuances that apply to specific situations in practice. A comparison of the four NoSQL databases provides an opportunity to understand these nuances, their pros and cons. In this paper we explore and compare the commonality and differences amongst these four NoSQL databases. We also explore how the CAP theorem applies to these databases.

Mental Modeling Technology Platform

March 20, 2018
Room A217
Gordon Butte

Abstract: Mental Modeling Technology Platform is a new technology for understanding and influencing people’s judgment, decision making and behavior, one that draws on more than 50 years of research in behavioral science and 25 years of diverse application internationally. It offers a new, fundamental model for formulating strategy and communications that is relevant to leaders at all levels in all types of organizations - making for a worldwide market opportunity. The model comprises a three-step process that anyone can be taught how to do well. It is supported by a patent. It comes with the proprietary software required to enable a person to collect and analyze specialized information and data about people’s judgment and decision making, and that provides a seat in an online knowledge management system and users network. It was developed with the support of leaders in decision science.

Presenter Bio: Gordon Butte is CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Cognitive Science Systems LP. He is the inventor of Mental Modeling Technology Platform™. He is also CEO of Innovation Science Company an applied behavioral science company. In that capacity, Gordon developed and applied behavioral science informed, evidence-based models for strategy and communication in prominent organizations in virtually every economic sector, logging hundreds of different applications involving thousands of people internationally over the past three decades (see Mental Modeling Approach, Wood, Butte et al, Springer 2016). This work generated a large body of unique knowledge and know how that is available to users of Mental Modeling Technology Platform™ to inform and support all applications.

Comparing Resettlement Support in New Zealand, the United States and Japan

March 6, 2018
Room B335
Jody McBrien

Abstract: In landmass, Japan is slightly larger than New Zealand. The similarities seem to stop there, beginning with population: New Zealand has 4 million residents compared to Japan’s 127 million, which makes Japan the 10th largest world country by population, in spite of its small land mass.

Both countries are signatories to the 1957 Geneva Convention related to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. However, the ways in which they interpret and use these international documents to regulate their policies on refugee resettlement differ considerably. I spent 7 months exploring resettlement in New Zealand during 2014 and 4 months doing the same in Japan in 2017. This presentation will offer my comparative observations through history and the use of qualitative methods prior to completing a manuscript for publication in a comparative journal.

Female and Male Business Leadership in Roman Pompeii

February 13, 2018
Room A217
Scott Perry

Abstract: Virtually all ancient sources address the leadership qualities that could be found among the most highly-placed individuals, most of them males, within a given society. This paper will test whether the same leadership traits could be found among two specific groups in Pompeii before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. A recent study of the ‘fullones’ (‘fullers’ who operated laundry facilities and are attested in a variety of archaeological and epigraphic records from Pompeii) by Miko Flohr (OUP, 2013) will be used to assess the business practices, political maneuverings, and, to the extent these can be determined, social aspirations of these business leaders. Comparisons would then be made to Eumachia, a prominent local woman whose patronage of the fullers was acknowledged in a famous statue with an inscription. Were there uniquely ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ styles of leadership on the local level, and did these mirror the leadership traits of more prominent members of Roman society?

Nonlinear Transformations in Research: Possible Problems and Potential Solutions

January 30, 2018
Room B229
Tom Becker

Abstract: We examined the use of nonlinear transformation of variables in a random sample of 323 articles published in six top journals during 2012-2017. Coding categories included the number of transformed variables, the type of transformation, the kinds of variables transformed, reasons provided for transforming variables, how transformed results were reported, and pre- and post-transformation analysis of variables. Common problems include insufficient justification for transforming variables, overreliance on log transformations, failure to report important information on the effects of transformation, and incomplete reporting and discussion of transformed results. Perhaps most importantly, there was frequent misalignment between statements of hypotheses, typically stated in terms of nontransformed variables, and the transformed data used to test them. We discuss the implications of these problems for science and practice and provide recommendations for addressing the issues.

Identifying and Tracing the Development of Military Cultural Norms among Veterans that Influence Civic Engagement

November 27, 2017
Room A203a
Eric Hodges

Abstract: Recent studies (Kawashima-Ginsberg, 2015; Yonkman, 2009) have established a link between military veterans and increased civic engagement. Nascent literature (Matthieu, 2016) also suggests that civic engagement can play a positive role in veteran reintegration. Given those insights, this study asks the following research questions: Does the U.S. military develop cultural norms among veterans that influence civic engagement? If so, what are they? How are they developed? What role do those dispositions play in influencing veterans’ civic engagement?

This two-year study integrates mixed methods over three project phases. Phase 1 will be an ethnographic exploration of the impact of military culture on veteran identity conducted with a select group of veterans in Florida. First phase data will be collected through in-depth interviews and Photovoice, a participatory photography method. Thematic constant comparative coding will be utilized to identify and trace the development of cultural norms that influence civic behavior among veterans. The second phase of the project will focus on hypotheses and survey development based on the quotes, codes, and themes gathered from the qualitative findings. During Phase 3, we will administer a national survey through Qualtrics to a wide audience of civically engaged veterans, using multivariate regression to analyze the resulting data.

Big Data and Business Analytics: Framework and Tools

October 30, 2017
9:30 to 11:30
Bhuvan Unhelkar and Lila Rajabion

Abstract: This special two-hour session will involve four modules: What is Big Data?, Data Analytics Types and Relevance in Practice, Framework for Big Data Adoption, Big Data Tools – IBM Watson and Import.IO

Corporate Social Responsibility and Firm Reputation Risk: Bettering Firm Reputational Risk through Socially Responsible Activities

October 16, 2017
Jamey Darnell

Abstract: This study aims to extend the literature on CSR as insurance like in relation to firm performance. Socially responsible activities may provide insurance against reputational crises for firms. Specifically, a positive relationship is found between CSR and reputational risk demonstrating an additional reason why pursuing socially responsible activities makes fundamental sense for managers. This study also fills a gap in the literature by examining CSR in a multilevel model and examining an alternative data source to measure CSR beyond traditional KLD data.

Educational Data Mining: Connecting the Dots

April 11, 2017
Dr. Giti Javidi

Abstract: The application of data mining (DM) techniques with information produced in educational context has originated an emerging discipline called Educational Data Mining (EDM). This new perspective focuses on the development and application of methods to explore educational data to bring a better understanding of students’ behavior, performance and career decision making. With this purpose, this presentation will provide a general overview of the motivations behind EDM and a discussion on the current state of research in this area and some pending issues for future research.

Exploring the Role of Partners on Commitment to Romantic Relationships

March 22, 2017
Dr. Anthony Coy

Abstract: The investment model of commitment is one of the most widely researched theories on close relationships. Based on interdependence theory, the investment model proposes a framework modeling the outcome of repeated interactions within romantic relationships. However, this model is generally applied only at the individual level, rather than a dyadic (couple) level. By offering a dyadic model of romantic relationships, the present research examines the notion that partners have a direct effect on each other’s commitment with a specific focus on investments – or the time, money, and other aspects of life that partners contribute to their relationship. Findings from three studies will be presented including preliminary findings from the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Couples Study which acts as a capstone study to this line of research.

Marketing Strategies to Generation Z: Hotel Industry

February 21, 2017
Dr. Lila Rajabion

Abstract: For recent years marketers across all industries have been obsessed with millennials. They have focused on how to reach them and build connections with their brands. But perhaps one of the recent population groups that have caused confusion for most marketers is Gen Z. Despite its importance to businesses based on population numbers and spending power, there is yet to be a well-explained theory that explains marketing for this market. Based on the characteristics that have been identified as defining this generation, the hospitality industry stands to benefit a lot from this market. This paper builds on this recognition and seeks to review the relevant literature and identify the marketing approaches that are needed in the hospitality to effectively capture this market. The literature will also be compared and contrasted from the occurrence on the ground which will be based on two case studies corroborated by secondary data. The findings and conclusions will aid in the formulation of recommendations for future researchers as well as for industry practitioners.

Swarm Intelligence and Machine Learning

December 9, 2016
Dr. Tad Gonsalves

Abstract: A swarm is a large number of homogenous, unsophisticated agents that interact locally among themselves and their environment without any central control or management. The collective behavior of self-organized, but decentralized natural or artificial systems that leads to the solution of complex problems is called Swarm Intelligence. The individuals that make up the swarm are often extremely simple agents that lack memory, intelligence or even awareness of one another. By following simple rules like sticking together and avoiding collision, they give rise to a form of emergent intelligence. This talk will focus on the application of Swarm Intelligence techniques in diverse areas like business, engineering, healthcare, etc. Machine learning relies on multi-layer neural networks and the backpropagation algorithm in learning a model from sample data and making predictions. We will see how Swarm Intelligence techniques can be applied to train the neural nets. We will also see some examples of deep learning in which image recognition is performed by convolutional nets.

Architecting Service Intelligence in the Big Data World

December 2, 2016
Dr. Keith Sherringham

Abstract: Keith Sherringham (BSc. Hons, FACS) has over 15 years of experience in realizing business outcomes through the business application of ICT. Delivering for executive and senior management in a range of blue chip clients across industry sectors, Keith is also a winner of the Consensus IT Professional Award and has designed award winning software. As a noted author and speaker on the business application of ICT, Keith has guest lectured at various universities in Australia and overseas. He is a company director, director for not for profits, as well as a mentor to CEOs and boards within not for profits.

Enterprise Architecture in Digital Transformations

November 22, 2016
Dr. Tushar Hazra

Abstract: Enterprise Architecture (EA) is the technical fabric of the enterprise. However, EA also transcends technology and moves into business space. Therefore, EA needs to be discussed in an integrated, holistic manner to form the basis for a business transformation. For example, the technologies of Big Data, Mobile and Cloud computing are all highly disruptive technologies that require a fine balance between their business and technical aspects as the organization moves forward. EA is treated as an integrated Architecture comprising technologies, business, frameworks, people, quality and governance of the organization. This talk focuses how such an EA can be used by an organization to absorb the impact of the aforementioned disruptive technologies.

Firms’ Propensity to Report Cash Flow and Earnings Surprises of Divergent Signs

November 17, 2016
Dr. Carlos Jimenez-Angueira

Abstract: Nonnegative (negative) cash flow surprises help generate nonnegative (negative) earnings surprises; hence, the two surprises are generally expected to have the same sign. We document firms’ propensity to report surprises of opposing signs and investigate conditions under which firms beat cash flow forecasts but miss earnings forecasts. Firms are more likely to do so when: adverse valuation consequences are less severe; analyst following of cash flows vis-à-vis earnings is large; analysts forecast extreme accruals; analysts downwardly revise cash flow but not earnings forecasts; firms are in financial distress; firms have inflated balance sheets; and earnings but not cash flows decrease.

Dynamical Conflict Management in Teams and Work Groups

November 2, 2016
Dr. Jay Michaels

Abstract: Successful team performance is critical in the classroom, government, and workplace. While much is known about specific factors that contribute to team success versus struggle, to include group members’ similarities, knowledge possessed, and personality factors, there is less known about how group members’ interactions evolve over time and lead to various performance related outcomes. Thus, the goal of the present research is to understand how different team dynamics are associated with more versus less successful group performance.

Working with (Rae) Yunzi Tan (University of Baltimore) and Urszula Strawinska-Zanko (Nova Southeastern University), I will present preliminary results from an initial field study that tracked how conflict management styles evolved in three groups of graduate students who worked on a comprehensive project in a class during the course of a semester. After providing an overview of key concepts from dynamic systems theory that are relevant to understand the types of patterns we considered in our data, I review a variety of initial results from our rich, longitudinal data set. In particular, we interestingly found that absence of competitive tensions between group members and reliance on cooperative conflict management strategies alone were not defining characteristics of more successful groups. Rather, the most successful team exhibited flexibility in the application of various conflict management strategies coupled with gradually diminishing reliance on a competitive strategy. These results fit with Losada’s (1999; Mathematical and Computer Modeling) finding that greater interaction and psychological complexity within and between group members defined higher performing teams.

Assessing the Relationship between Entrepreneurial Skills and Inmate Transformation

October 12, 2016
Drs. Jessica Grosholz and Jean Kabongo

Abstract: Over the last decade, the interest in inmate behavior and the reentry process has increased in various business, academic, government, and community circles. In 2014, close to 637,000 prisoners returned to communities throughout the country. Of those released, over half will be back in prison within five years. Research shows that one of the most consistent predictors of recidivism is the lack of stable, quality employment. In order to combat the revolving door of our criminal justice system, it becomes imperative to better prepare inmates for employment opportunities post-prison. This task becomes ever more difficult, as correctional jurisdictions are faced with constrained budgets, with treatment and/or rehabilitation programs experiencing the brunt of these restrictions. Research on prison-based education supports that prison education equips inmates with the intellectual, cognitive, and life skills necessary for successful reintegration into society. Despite the plethora of evidence suggesting that prison education and job training programs in prison are beneficial for inmates, very little research has examined the effect of entrepreneurial training on various outcomes. Because entrepreneurship training provides an alternative career path as opposed to working under supervision, it is more likely to transform prisoners’ attitudes toward themselves, their current situation, and others, thus molding their behaviors in prison and making them opt to live lawfully when they get out of prison. Logic would suggest, then, that self-employment represents a practical method for some prisoners to reenter the labor market. Ultimately, this program evaluation fills a gap in current research and seeks to understand how entrepreneurial skills influence an inmate’s transformation in terms of his behavior, criminal thinking, self-control, and entrepreneurial aptitude. To assess these objectives, we are teaching a 10-week, intensive entrepreneurship course to inmates at Hardee Correctional Institution. We are also conducting focus groups with the students, collecting pre-test and post-test surveys, and engaging in participant observation. Findings generated from this program evaluation will contribute to as well as help expand the scholarship on entrepreneurship programming in correctional facilities. Information gathered from participants will also yield pertinent knowledge about the influence of these programs on inmate behavior.
This study remains in the beginning stages, and we have abundant additional measures that we have yet to fully analyze. We are beginning the next cycle of the project with colleagues in Germany to examine team performance outside of the classroom and have plans to carry out additional field studies as well as experimental research. Thus, ideas and suggestions for strengthening our research will be most welcome.

Integrating the SMAC-Stack (Social-Mobile-Analytics-Cloud) in Big Data Strategies for Agile Business

October 5, 2016
Dr. Bhuvan Unhelkar

Abstract: Social media, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) – is a quartet of technologies that builds on the interconnected (and even inseparable) nature of human endeavours. These technologies operate in a much broader and dynamic eco-system of the business than a singular system. Therefore, Agile appears to be the right glue to bind these technologies together so as to produce value to the business. In fact, the way I see the business making full use of SMAC is through an acronym in the reverse CAMS (Composite Agile Method and Strategy) [1] [2]. CAMS remains my core contribution to Agile as it recognizes and provides an approach that is not just a method but also an organizational strategy. The underlying theme of CAMS is balance; balance in the way Agile is applied to the business eco-system. This, in turn, has great value in the world of Big Data. The Technologies and Analytics of Big Data are able to provide value to business only when they are applied holistically across the entire business. A strategic approach to Big Data is required. This presentation outlines such a strategic approach (Based on Big Data Framework for Agile Business - BDFAB) that uses the fundamentals of CAMS in order to render a business Agile.

New Analytic Tools for Engaging Big Data: Pattern Recognition

September 21, 2016
Dr. Ehsan Sheybani

Abstract: Noise, data dimension, and fading of big datasets can have dramatic effects on the performance of the pattern recognition for decision systems. Any of these parameters alone or their combined result can affect the patterns of output for a business intelligence system. As such, total elimination of these parameters could also be damaging to the final outcome, as it may result in removing useful information that can benefit the decision making process. Experts in the field agree that it is more beneficial to remove noise and/or compress data at the node level. This is mainly stressed so that the low power, low bandwidth, and low computational overhead of system node constraints are met while fused datasets can still be used to make reliable decisions. We have developed computationally low power, low bandwidth, and low cost filters that will remove the noise and compress the data so that a decision can be made at the node level. This wavelet-based method is guaranteed to converge to a stationary point for both uncorrelated and correlated sensor data. Presented here is the theoretical background with examples showing the performance and merits of this novel approach compared to other alternatives.