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Body of Lessons

First-year UCF medical students dissect cadaver to discover cause of death

First-year medical students at UCF after presenting their autopsy report. From left, Kathryn Baker, Jonathan Mayl, Ajay Kailas, Heena Ahmed, Marco Mejia Acevedo, and Katie Conover. (Naseem S. Miller, Orlando Sentinel)

First-year medical students (left to right) Kathryn Baker, Jonathan Mayl, Ajay Kailas, Heena Ahmed, Marco Mejia Acevedo and Katie Conover (Naseem S. Miller, Orlando Sentinel) presented their autopsy findings after a 17-week anatomy lab.

By Naseem S. Miller
Orlando Sentinel

For 17 weeks, the cadaver of a 49-year-old man lay on a cold metal autopsy table as six first-year medical students explored every layer and organ of his body.

After years of delving into pages of their anatomy and physiology books, they picked up a scalpel and made their first cuts into human flesh.

All those diagrams and drawings were suddenly under their finger tips and in the palm of their hands. The future doctors marveled at the diseased organs of their young patient and tried to figure out what caused his death.

“A lot of times I would go home and think, my goodness, if he had so many issues, what was his life actually like?” said Jonathan Mayl, a first-year medical student at UCF College of Medicine.

Like the rest of his classmates, Mayl had just finished the classic first-year anatomy lab, but unlike many medical schools, the students here have to give presentations at the end of the course and discuss what could have caused their patient’s death.

Their anatomy lab at UCF is an investigation into the cause of death, not just the study of human body.

The students are given basic information such as age and the CT scan of the cadaver’s body. Throughout the integrated anatomy lab, they study the images, research topics, send samples to pathology, and consult with specialists who walk around the lab that overlooks greenery and the sunset.

“For 40 years I taught normal and we ignored the abnormal,” said anatomy professor Andrew Payer, who runs the anatomy lab. “We taught the students anatomy and made them memorize it, and somewhere along the line a light went off, and I thought there’s a great opportunity that we’re missing, because there’s a lot of clinical anatomy here.”

The 17 weeks are transformative, as students put together in the lab what they’ve learned in textbooks, and emerge with a better command on medical speak and understanding of the human body.

The teams’ final presentations are judged and graded by faculty, upperclassmen and Orange and Osceola county chief medical examiner, Dr. Jan Garavaglia.

Two teams win.

“These kids are made to think while they’re studying and think about what they’re finding and put it in a bigger perspective,” said Garavaglia, better known as Dr. G. “It’s a wonderful thing they’re doing. It’s very novel … These are the people that we need to take care of us as we get older, so it’s important that we have a good medical school,” she said.

Mayl and his teammates were told that they had the youngest cadaver in the anatomy lab. The cadaver also turned out to be one of the sickest.

“He had a lot of issues,” said Marco Mejia Acevedo. “It was hard to pinpoint what the cause was.” Almost every organ was diseased.

The team finally decided that the patient died of cardiac arrhythmia that led to sudden death, but the autopsy report said that the cause of death was acute respiratory distress and end-stage renal failure.

Before the results were announced, Mayl said although he would like to win, “even if we don’t, we learned a lot. That was the ultimate prize.”

The team did not win.

Ajay Kailas, an aspiring dermatologist, saw how internal problems could manifest on the skin through ulcers and bruises.

“It made it harder for me to decide on a single specialty, just because there are so many interesting things everywhere,” said Heena Ahmed.

Katie Conover who was terrified of the anatomy lab, ended up loving the experience. She dissected the 49-year-old’s brain. “I don’t know if that’s something that I go into, but I couldn’t stop reading about it. I had to force myself to stop,” she said.

Mayl, who was interested in cardiology, couldn’t get away from pulmonology, and Acevedo, who’s keen on cardiothoracic surgery, got to dissect the heart.

“I’ve always been interested in surgery, so anatomy is my happy place,” said Kathryn Baker.

Surrounded by students, Dr. G. announced the winners of the autopsy report on a recent afternoon. The anatomy lab came  with lessons to stay for a lifetime, and a depth of gratitude to the men and women who donated their bodies to science.

“I walked through the anatomy lab doors for the last time to study our cadaver and I looked up and at the top of the door I saw this plaque,” said Mayl, pulling up the photo with the quote from an 18th century physician on his phone and reading it: “‘Let conversation cease. Let laughter flee. This is the place where death delights to help the living.’ And I thought, wow, after all this, that’s so true and I’m so glad we had this opportunity.”

This article was republished with permission from the author. It appeared in a Feb. 10, 2015, edition of the Orlando Sentinel online. See original article.

UCF’s Hidden Library

Teachers library at UCF has fake phlegm, skeletons, more

(Left) Yolanda Hood, the head librarian at the UCF Curriculum Materials Center, holds a jar of fake phlegm that teachers sometimes borrow for anti-smoking lessons in their classroom. Or, it can be a way to measure volume, one student suggested. (Right) The Curriculum Materials Center is a tucked-away branch of the UCF main library that is full of books and worksheets for teachers to use as well as more quirky items, such as fake phlegm, skeletons and musical instruments.  (Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel)

(Left) Yolanda Hood, the head librarian at the UCF Curriculum Materials Center, holds a jar of fake phlegm that teachers sometimes borrow for anti-smoking lessons in their classroom. Or, it can be a way to measure volume, one student suggested. (Right) The Curriculum Materials Center is a tucked-away branch of the UCF main library that is full of books and worksheets for teachers to use as well as more quirky items, such as fake phlegm, skeletons and musical instruments.
(Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel)

By Gabrielle Russon
Orlando Sentinel

Sure, there are books, worksheets and the other items you typically find in a teacher’s classroom, but some things are far more quirky on the shelves of this hidden University of Central Florida library.

Yolanda Hood, the woman in charge, pulls out a jar of sickly green goo with the chunks floating on the surface: Fake mucus. She laughs.

Hood is the head librarian at UCF’s Curriculum Materials Center, a place for current teachers from anywhere in Florida and soon-to-be educators to check out materials for their lessons and classrooms. The center, which first opened in 1978, helps schools with tight budgets and teachers tired of purchasing things out of their own pockets.

Good luck finding a sign for the library, which was converted from an old locker room. There is none in the lobby at the Education Complex. Students buying coffee in the lobby don’t even know the library is here. A sign is coming in the future, Hood says.

“We have people who roam and say, ‘I’ve been looking for you for 10 minutes,’ ” Hood says.

But once you find the center, there are 40,000 items here from textbooks, games, molecular kits for chemistry class, math counters to, of course, the fake phlegm.

“It’s very popular,” Hood says about the jar, which she’s set aside for an event to promote the library. “It’s typically checked out at least once or twice a month.”

It could be part of an anti-smoking lesson in a health education class, or as one UCF student decided, a unique way to teach volume.

There’s a full skeleton that art and anatomy students can loan for four hours. Gym teachers have access to a parachute that students can line up and lift into the air as a game.

“We never got hula hoops,” Hood says, sounding a bit wistful, although the center just recently added LEGOs.

For music instructors or elementary teachers who use singing to tame their wiggling students, the UCF library shelves holds drums and other instruments.

“A ukulele is a ukulele,” Hood says. “But we have a bass ukulele.”

The library purchased one after fielding a few requests from students. The instrument was recently restrung, and now it was gone, regularly checked out.

“We’re like, ‘We’ll never see it again,’ ” Hood said jokingly.

The most expensive items for Hood’s $30,000 annual budget ends up being the complete set of textbooks — every grade, every subject — for Seminole and Orange County schools.

Within the next few months, the center will expand its technology, purchasing a set of 30 iPads and other items for teachers to borrow.

Hood thinks about her own daughter, a 12-year-old, and says her job is to help aspiring teachers and help them find ways to connect with their students and make education fun.

“I want her to have good teachers,” she says. “I feel very vested to make sure they’re the best they can be.”

This article was republished with permission from the author. It appeared in a Feb. 12, 2015, edition of the Orlando Sentinel online. See original article.

Peddling for a Passion

Alumnus sets out on a cross-country voyage to bring awareness to sustainability

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Stephen Szucs, ’05 | Founder, Sustainable Joes

By Angie Lewis, ’03

From June 2013 to June 2014, Stephen Szucs, ’05, generated only one bag of garbage. After graduating from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in finance, Szucs taught English in Barcelona, led adventure tours across North America, traveled, owned a solar company and bartended. But, then he discovered his real passion. Dedicating himself to living a sustainable life and teaching others to reduce, reuse, recycle and #RETHINK everything, he founded Sustainable Joes in January 2013.

“Sustainability is about more than trees and whales,” he says. “It’s about survival. I want Joes to teach others how to take sustainable action — how to link passion, purpose and profit…good for the Earth, others and yourself. Sustainability is possible, but we must see our diversity as a point of unification instead of division.”

On June 14, 2014, Szucs left Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, in a pedal- and solar-powered ELF tricycle, nicknamed Rita, for the first leg of his #RETHINK tour. He traveled at an average speed of 14.5 mph, making stops in countless cities and towns to talk to people about living sustainably, before arriving in Key West, Fla., on Dec. 20. His six-month and nearly 5,000-mile mission was originally routed from Canada to California, but he says that route would have been heading into the prevailing winds, which makes the ELF difficult to maneuver.

While on the road, he listened to a lot of NPR and music playlists to pass the time, and help muffle the road and noise and Rita’s rattling.

Along the way, his ELF broke down in Canadian Amish Country, where he met Bev, Dougie and Murph. While making repairs in Burlington, Vt., over a holiday weekend, he learned how to tango with Dave and Carmen. After a 120-mile day, he says he’ll never forget how amazing Scotty’s cornbread tasted and smelled in Lebanon, N.H. Then, there was the People’s Climate March in New York City, which he’ll always remember. And, in Delray Beach, Fla., he was treated to a police escort.

“From big cities to small towns, people who carry guns to the EPA… so many interesting people,” he says.

Szucs never imagined the first leg of the tour would last more than six months, but he says the dream is to fuel sustainable conversation and action around the world, so he’ll stay on the road as long as it takes. He’s currently in the process of planning leg two of the tour.

His advice to current UCF business majors? “The world is what we make it. Live with passion, create, steward and listen to your gut!”

Adding to that, he relates a quote by Warren Buffet, who said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Going the Distance Q&A

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. Over Thanksgiving, two of my best friends and I visited campus and went for a stroll down memory lane. Campus was empty as we sat beside the Reflecting Pond reminiscing. It was a special moment.

Q. Any special/hidden talents?
A. I can knit, drive a tractor and give really good massages.

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A. Speak every language, dance every dance and learn to swim

Q. Most embarrassing moment?
A. Oh, wow… I’ve had so many of these, I started calling them “growth opportunities.” For example, while learning Spanish in Barcelona, I once ordered a sandwich that made our waiter do a double take. By accident, I had ordered something that included genitals.

Q. Happiest/proudest moment of your life so far?
A. Hugging my best friend at the end of leg one [of the #RETHINK tour] in Key West was pretty special.

Q. What or who inspires you?
A. Elon Musk and every child who hugged me on tour

Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. Learn to speak my truth.

Q. What do you fear?
A. “Desperate people do desperate things.” I fear the certain global unrest which will occur if collectively we do nothing to combat climate change.

Q. Something you learned in the past week?
A. Recycling five aluminum cans saves enough energy to power a laptop for 24 hours. And, America throws away 30 billion cans annually.

Q. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
A. I’m actually an extroverted introvert.

More Info

http://www.sustainablejoes.com

College of Sciences Presents Inaugural Outstanding AlumKnights Awards

COS-Outstanding-AlumKnights-2015

On Feb. 5, the University of Central Florida College of Sciences and its alumni chapter hosted the inaugural Outstanding AlumKnights award reception at the Orlando Science Center.

COS Dean, Dr. Michael Johnson welcomed the crowd, and faculty representatives from each of the college’s 10 departments and school presented the awards to their respective recipients.

The 2015 awardees were:

  • Anthropology | Keith Edwards, ’10, ’11, president, Medstar Medical
  • Biology | Alice Bard, ’86, ’89, environmental specialist II, District 3 Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation & Parks
  • Chemistry | Jennifer McKinley, ’94, ’96, co-founder and chief operating officer, IRradiance Glass
  • Nicholson School of Communication | Clay McMillan, ’90, president, CMP Production Services
  • Mathematics | Aicha Elhor Gillespie, Ph.D., ’00, senior vice president of Citi Shared Services Global Re-engineering
  • Physics | Clara Rivero-Baleine, Ph.D., ’01, ’03, ’05, mechanical engineer, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control
  • Political Science | Ybeth Bruzual, ’05, news anchor, Central Florida News 13
  • Psychology | Kristin Chase, ’03, director of organizational development department, Universal Orlando
  • Sociology | Nicholas Guittar, Ph.D., ’01, ’05, ’11, assistant professor of sociology, Valdosta State University
  • Statistics | Stephanie Urdahl, ’05, assistant vice president, Financial Solutions Pricing Department, Hannover Life Reassurance

Not only did the event honor the college’s most outstanding alumni, but it also raised money for scholarships through a silent auction.

Guests had fun interacting with exhibits at the science center, including a hands-on liquid nitrogen demonstration that had everyone jumping at the explosion of an expanding balloon! They also enjoyed live music, while sipping drinks and snacking on hors d’oeuvres — including the crowd-favorite flaming donuts. To finish off the evening’s festivities, awardees and their families dressed up in UCF props and captured their Knight pride in the photo booth.

VIEW PHOTOS

2015 Jefferson Awards — Call for Nominations!

Last year’s 4EVER KNIGHTS’ Shining Armor awardees (left to right): Bill Ford, ’79; Dianne Owen, ’93;  Ron Spangler, ’03; Sara Montuori, ’04; Allen Lane, ’97; Octavia Powell, ’09; and Tim O’Reilly, ’10

Last year’s 4EVER KNIGHTS’ Shining Armor awardees (left to right): Bill Ford, ’79; Dianne Owen, ’93;
Ron Spangler, ’03; Sara Montuori, ’04; Allen Lane, ’97; Octavia Powell, ’09; and Tim O’Reilly, ’10

Celebrating its eighth year, the UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception recognizes the most active alumni volunteers for their countless acts of generosity and numerous volunteer hours with the association. This year’s festivities take place Friday, June 12, at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

Hosted by the UCF Alumni Community Volunteers Chapter, the awards focus on outstanding public service by honoring alumni who have given back to their alma mater and the community.

The alumni associaton will also recognize the 4EVER KNIGHTS’ Shining Armor Award winners for their dedicated time and talent given in assisting the 4EK Student Alumni Association.

Do you know someone who is deserving of a nomination?

Submit your nomination today!

Categories include:

  • Regional Chapter Volunteer of the Year
  • Regional Club Volunteer of the Year
  • College Chapter Volunteer of the Year
  • Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year
  • Association Committee Volunteer of the Year
  • Student Volunteer of the Year
  • Chapter Community Service Volunteer of the Year

The nomination deadline is March 8 at midnight.

LEARN MORE

Palm Beach Chapter Provides Valentine’s Dinner with Love

PalmBeach-VDay2015

By Angie Lewis, ’03

On Feb. 11, the Palm Beach UCF Alumni Chapter made its second visit to the Quantum House, which lessens the burdens for families with children receiving treatment in Palm Beach County for serious medical conditions.

This time, chapter volunteers prepared a Valentine’s Day-themed meal, complete with heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches, organic tomato soup and a salad bar with heart-shaped tomatoes. After dinner, the kids got to decorate cupcakes, brownies and chocolate-covered strawberries with a variety of red and pink icing and candies. (The groceries were provided by Loggerhead Marina.)

“Our group left feeling inspired,” says Brittany Miller, ’07, chair of the Palm Beach UCF Alumni Chapter. “Many of our volunteers were asking how they can stay involved with the Quantum House on their own time.”

The chapter participates in many different volunteer projects throughout the year. It’s previously worked with Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Boys Town South Florida, Big Heart Basket Brigade and Paint Your Heart Out/United Way.

Miller adds, “It’s great being able to connect our UCF alumni with these organizations, broadening the impact we have in the Palm Beach community.”

SEE THE PHOTOS

Technology on Wheels

Alumnus’ invention earns nearly $1.4 million on Kickstarter

GB

Gaston Blanchet, ’09 | Co-founder, Trunkster

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Frequent flyers know the importance of a good suitcase. It needs to hold all of your stuff, roll smoothly along a variety of surfaces and fit into the coveted overhead bin space onboard.

But, no matter which ones he tried, avid traveler Gaston Blanchet, ’09, realized the perfect suitcase for his needs just didn’t exist — so he invented it.

Inspired by the roll-top doors for meal storage on airplanes, the Trunkster was born. It’s the world’s first and only zipperless, roll-top luggage that introduces a revolutionary industrial design. A durable and waterproof sliding door allows for quick access to belongings, even in the most constricted spaces. The bag also includes a removable power bank, built-in digital scale, and can be enabled with GPS.

Blanchet, who earned his UCF bachelor’s degree in business management, and his business partner Jesse Potash, used Facebook and Twitter to help build awareness of their product, and targeted travel and tech bloggers, as well as business travelers. The buzz created a network that led to thousands of pledges and preorders on Trunkster’s Kickstarter page. The support and demand was so great, in fact, their $50,000 goal soon multiplied more than 27 times in 59 days, with 3,566 backers pledging $1,395,370 by the Jan. 16 deadline.

“You can never take luck or good timing out of the equation,” Blanchet says. “I think we were fortunate to launch at a time when both smart products and crowdfunding became two of the year’s biggest trends. This, coupled with having a unique product in a stagnant industry, and months of media planning, let us claim the spot as the world’s most-crowdfunded travel campaign.”

While the guys have another idea they’d also like to take to crowdfunding, for now, they’re focused on manufacturing and delivering more than 5,000 Trunksters to anxious travelers.

Trunkster-carry-on

The Trunkster features zipperless entry, USB charging, a built-in digital scale and GPS.

Pack it Up Q&A

Q. How were you involved as a student?
A. I think some UCF staff thought I was probably over involved! When I begged my way into the Honors College and LEAD Scholars, I assumed that would largely be the extent of my involvement at UCF, but then I had the strange fortune of entering and winning the Mr. UCF scholarship competition my freshman year, which opened the doors to a pretty unique UCF experience! I had some of my best memories as a member of the President’s Leadership Council, where I was able to intimately partake in some unforgettable UCF moments, including the groundbreaking of the new arena, stadium and College of Medicine.

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. It was at Lake Nona while working on the President’s Leadership Council at the groundbreaking of College of Medicine — when the scheduled singer didn’t show up to sing the National Anthem for the opening ceremony, our PLC directors, Nancy Marshall and Ana Petkov, looked over at me and said, “Oh, Gaston sings! He can do it.” Well, it was about 6 a.m., and I never can remember the lyrics to that particular song. Ha! To everyone there that day, including President Hitt, I apologize to your ears.

Q. How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?
A. I’m grateful to be working in the field I studied. The business classes were instrumental in giving me a well-rounded toolkit to tackle all of the unique challenges that come up when running your own business. The classes that most helped me while at UCF were accounting, finance and business law, which exposed me early to everyday issues I deal with now.

Q. In what ways have you stayed connected to your alma mater since graduating?
A. I’m lucky my parents still live nearby and are involved with the Honors College as donors. And, of course, it’s been an amazing set of years as a UCF football fan. I’ve really cherished watching the team grow under Coach O’Leary and produce stars like Bortles. My fondest memory by far was watching my Knights win the Fiesta Bowl in the middle of the night while in Asia!

Q. What advice would you give to current UCF business students/aspiring entrepreneurs?
A. I’m not sure if all entrepreneurs say this, but I firmly believe there’s no better moment for aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of the incredible new tools available to our generation. To be specific, we’re entering a golden age of products. Crowdfunding lets you find the funds and create the community for your idea, while a fully globalized world has made component and manufacturing costs come way down. Furthermore, the Internet lets you easily find customers all over the world for your products and services. So, there’s really no deterrent but your will. The tools are out there. I encourage you to make the most of them, and take the steps to go through with the ideas you come up with. You’ll fail at a couple until the timing is right, then one of your ideas will take off.

Q. What are three things you never travel without?
A. Bose in-ear, noise-cancelling headphones; Canon C100 documentary camera; and Kindle

Q. Last vacation?
A. Vietnam — motorcycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Q. Dream vacation destination/itinerary?
A. Exploring mountain temples of Bhutan.

Q. Favorite way to pass the time while traveling?
A. Filming local stories for our interactive travel documentary series, “Humanity,” for iPad.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I’m a total adrenaline and adventure junkie. I love to sail, kitesurf, scuba, skydive, snowboard, any fun local excursions I can find …

Q. Pet peeve?
A. Delayed flights!

Q. Most embarrassing moment?
A. I left my $4,000 camera on top of a rental car and drove a mile before realizing. It miraculously stayed on!

Q. Hidden talent?
A. I can juggle.

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A. Hold my breath for five minutes.

Q. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. There’s no good time to launch a bad product, and there’s no bad time to launch a good product.

More Info

See the Trunkster in action.
(Save 10 percent with code “UCF” at checkout.)

Solidify Your Love

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This Valentine’s Day, surprise your love with a unique gift that will last forever. Purchase a brick on our beautiful Knights Terrace patio at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, and have it etched with a custom message for your special someone.

Knights Terrace is the place where your lifelong pride, passion and support for UCF is on display every day, and at countless events hosted on these special grounds. Your legacy will be forever chiseled into our history.

It’s personal. It’s your memories. It’s forever.

ORDER NOW

Budding Partnership

Alumni best friends introduce high-efficiency water treatment technology to medical marijuana cultivation center

Michael Williamson, '07 (left), purchased a water treatment system from his best friend, Michael Boyd, '05,  to save and reuse water in his company's new 80,000-square-foot, hydroponic, medical marijuana cultivation center.

Michael Williamson, ’07 (left), purchased a water treatment system from his best friend, Michael Boyd, ’05 (right),
to create a more sustainable environment to hydroponically grow medical cannabis in his company’s new 80,000-square-foot facility.

Michael Boyd, ’05 | Senior Sales Manager, Desalitech
Michael Williamson, ’07 | Plant Manager, Kind Love

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Michael Boyd, ’05, doesn’t remember the first time he met Michael Williamson, ’07, but he knew they’d become great friends after a discussion about a soccer match on TV spilled out into the parking lot of the former Underground Bluz, near UCF, for a real game.

“Those impromptu games became late-night traditions throughout the remainder of our college years, and afterward,” says Boyd, who earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering technology.

The guys would eventually become the best of friends, even as their career opportunities later took them more than half a country apart.

Based in Newton, Mass., Boyd serves as the senior sales manager for Desalitech, a $20-million organization that manufactures high-efficiency water treatment and wastewater reuse products.

About six years ago, the company started in Israel, a country built on the outskirts of a desert, with limited access to available water resources, which is why it has become one of the leading water treatment hubs on the planet.

“Between 1930 and 2000, the world population tripled from two billion to six billion, and by 2050, it will reach nine billion,” Boyd explains. “Increased production of food and energy, along with rising economies and industrialization, are all increasing the demand for water. Yet, water resources are overwhelmed, and many are already depleted from overutilization, which leaves desalination and water reuse as the only available new sources of water.”

He says industry is responsible for nearly 60 percent of fresh water withdrawals in the U.S. and in other developed countries, with agriculture accounting for an additional 30 percent. He adds that while reverse osmosis is widely applied for water purification, traditional RO systems can create excess brine waste, do not use water supplies efficiently and consume too much energy.

In contrast, Desalitech’s ReFlex RO systems, featuring Closed Circuit Desalination™ technology, reduce brine waste by up to 75 percent and energy consumption by up to 35 percent, compared to traditional RO designs.

ReFlex RO System

ReFlex RO System

Based in Denver, Co., Williamson is the plant manager for Kind Love, a medical marijuana dispensary, which also includes an 80,000-square-foot hydroponic cultivation center.

Williamson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis his freshman year of college.

“[The MS] caused me to be temporarily paralyzed from the waist down,” Williamson explains. “With the uncertainty of my future personal health, I changed my major to interdisciplinary studies with a focus on digital media. My thought process at the time was, if I was going to be in a wheelchair from time to time, or permanently, I wanted to make sure I could work, earn, create and contribute to an organization. Digital media gave me the ability to be able to work on a computer from anywhere.”

After many lackluster visits to medical dispensaries as a patient, he and his partners were inspired to create Kind Love in 2009. He says they saw much room for improvement and recognized an opportunity to help the underserved market of women and seniors.

“The cannabis plant is made up of chemical compounds called cannabinoids,” he explains. “Though scientists aren’t exactly sure, it’s estimated that there are at least 85 cannabinoids that make up the cannabis plant. The most well-known and popular cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Though THC has medicinal benefits, particularly with gastrointestinal issues and inflammation, it’s most commonly characterized by a psychoactive effect, which is described as a relaxing and cerebral high.

“Currently, most Colorado analytical labs have standards and are testing for four to 12 of the 85 cannabinoids. Thanks to legal access to these analytical labs, the medical community started to notice rare strains of cannabis that were extremely low in THC and elevated in cannabidiol, or CBD. Through selective breeding techniques, cannabis breeders have managed to create new varieties with high levels of CBD and little to no THC.

“After my first high-CBD discovery at our research and development cultivation facility, we started hunting for more high-CBD genetics through breeding and acquisitions with other medicinal breeders. Unlike THC, CBD has no high or mind-altering effects. It’s a non-psychoactive and has a huge range of medicinal benefits and properties, such as antiemetic, anticonvulsant, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-cancer and antidepressant.”

In fact, Kind Love holds the record for the highest CBD ever recorded, and is helping to treat patients with cancer and MS, as well as children with seizures, and many more. Williamson is working with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta on many of these high-CBD projects, which should produce results later this year.

While he respects soil growing, Williamson says Kind Love grows its plants hydroponically because it offers more environmental control and sterilization for large-scale cannabis agriculture.

“People forget that organic soil is organic — meaning it’s full of beneficial and non-beneficial bacterias, molds, fungi, and various insects, which can cause serious damage to cannabis crops if not controlled appropriately,” he says.

When the company was in the process of building its new cultivation facility last year, Williamson researched reverse osmosis machines. The best one he could find on the market was recovering 75 percent good water, with 25 percent going to waste. His previous cultivation facilities were operating at 33 percent good water, with 67 percent waste.

Realizing he was looking at the wrong technology, he looked at Desalitech’s ReFlex reverse osmosis system with CCD technology, which would give him 93 percent good water recovery, with only 7 percent wastewater.

Williamson says his friend was originally doing him a favor, since Boyd thought Kind Love’s operation was probably too small to utilize his company’s system, but he flew to Denver anyway to calculate the numbers. To their delight, Kind Love’s new cultivation facility qualified for Desalitech’s smallest full-scale system, which is commonly used as a pilot for large power plants.

“Michael Boyd and I both demand the absolute best of the best when it comes to our projects, and where and with whom we invest our time and money,” Williamson says. “Of course, it was very cool to do business with a dear friend and colleague, but, more importantly, I knew that I had one of the best systems that money could buy, because I knew he wouldn’t associate with or be a part of anything less. I am very grateful for his friendship, his strong communication skills and ability to execute. His general demeanor and hard work ethic continue to inspire me every day to work harder, smarter and faster.”

More Info

Meet Kind Love medical marijuana dispensary’s plant manager, Michael Williamson, as he explains his decision to partner with best friend Michael Boyd’s water treatment company, Desalitech:

Mascot Marathon

Knightro and the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter join forces for a run in the sun

Although Knightro was light on his feet, he just wasn't as fast as Florida Tech's Pete the Panther,  who took first place in the Melbourne Music Marathon Weekend's Mascot Marathon.

Although Knightro was light on his feet, he just wasn’t as fast as Florida Tech’s Pete the Panther,
who took first place in the Melbourne Music Marathon Weekend’s Mascot Marathon.

On Saturday, Jan. 31, Knightro joined other mascots, including Eastern Florida State College’s Titan, the Brevard County Manatees’ Manny the Manatee, Astronaut High School’s War Eagle, and Dunkin’ Donuts’ Cuppy and Sprinkles, in a 262-foot run that took place before the start of the Florida Today 5K.

Although Florida Tech’s Pete the Panther took first place in the mascot race, all of the characters, including Knightro, and the UCF Cheerleaders, stayed to cheer on the 5K runners.

In addition, the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter hosted a tent for the day’s festivities, providing water and participant support to racers.

More Info

Read the Florida Today story, which includes more photos and videos from the race.

MascotMarathon

PHOTO: Melbourne Music Marathon Weekend

 

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