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Media Advisory

Monday, April 26, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

FLVS Press Contact
(540) 349-2311

Department of Education to Host Florida's First Virtual Career Fair on STEM

~ Middle and high school students will have the opportunity to connect with STEM professionals to learn about future careers ~

TALLAHASSEE – Florida middle and high school students will have the opportunity to hear from leading professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields during the first-ever STEM Virtual Career Fair on Wednesday, April 28th. This exciting opportunity will be hosted by the Florida Department of Education, in partnership with Florida Virtual School and Elluminate Technology, and will connect students with professionals in various STEM fields virtually in classrooms throughout the state. Featured speakers include chemists, biologists, video game designers and a music composer, who will provide insight into their background and answer student questions in real-time.

Classrooms can participate in the STEM Virtual Career Fair by visiting on April 28th. Elluminate Technology has provided schools with instructions to ensure that their computers are prepared to run the event. Those instructions can be found by visiting

A diverse group of speakers has dedicated April 28th to educating future generations about the importance of STEM careers. Below is the day’s agenda:

8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. – Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith and Florida Virtual School President and CEO Julie Young will kick off the event with remarks about the virtual fair and encourage students to pursue careers in STEM areas.

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. – Gary Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., Manager of the Phytoplankton Ecology Program with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, will talk about how his engineering experience, which is rather unique for a marine scientist, has helped scientists create robotics that detect and study red tide occurrences. He began his career as an electrical engineer and worked for the United States Air Force and has also worked in the private industry as an engineer. Upon completing his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from North Carolina State University, Gary joined Mote Marine Laboratory in 1990. Gary has used his engineering abilities to develop several unique instruments to measure plankton productivity and spectral signature. His latest instrument, known as the “BreveBuster,” is able to detect the Florida red tide by analyzing the light absorbed by the plankton’s pigments.

9:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. – Michael Tarselli, Ph.D., with Scripps Florida will discuss his research within their Department of Chemistry. His focus is on the development of new chemical methods and strategies for the total synthesis of complex biologically interesting natural products, and for the discovery of small molecules with interesting biological properties. The Scripps’ Department of Chemistry was created specifically to bridge the long-standing gap between biology and chemistry, offering a unique program that blends highly sophisticated synthetic chemistry, molecular design, and bioorganic chemistry.

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Mike Duffey, Special Agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will discuss his duties combating cyber-crime using technology and law enforcement techniques. Mike works in the Computer Crime Center in Tallahassee, Fla., where he is responsible for statewide computer crime investigations including Internet crimes against children. Mike’s law enforcement experience includes working for the Tallahassee Police Department and the Florida Department of Insurance. Mike is a graduate of Florida State University School of Criminology.

10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Matt Seguin, Assistant Husbandry Manager with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, will discuss responsibilities of providing a healthy environment to fish within aquariums. Prior to working for Mote, Matt worked for many high-profile multi-species aquariums including Sea World, Discovery Cove and the Florida Museum of Natural History. In his current position, he is responsible for the care of the living and preserved plant and animal collections at Mote, including all permitting, records, quarantine and medical treatments. Additionally, he assists with the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles and other marine mammals as needed. Matt has a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and a minor in Zoology from the University of Florida and a Masters in Biology from University of Central Florida.

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Patricia Sibson with Florida Virtual School and Robin Warren, Executive Director for the Florida Council on Economic Education (FCEE) will give advice to students on the many exciting careers math can offer, such as pursuing opportunities as a stock broker, accountant or financial planner. Patricia currently is in charge of the Florida Stock Market Challenge to teach students about our economy through their management of a hypothetical $100,000 portfolio. As an attorney, Robin previously spent 22 years in the banking industry providing legal counsel and risk management advice in the field of consumer financial services. FCEE is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to prepare Florida's students for personal and financial success through educational programs in economics, the free enterprise system and personal financial literacy.

12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. – Musician Zain Effendi, recent winner of Hollywood’s Best New Composer award, will share his experience about the music industry and how technology is revolutionizing the field. After graduating from the Boston Conservancy for Music, Zain began his career working with legendary composer Hans Zimmer. After several years and almost a dozen films with Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean 3: A Dead Man’s Chest, The Dark Knight, The Holiday, Frost Nixon, Bee Movie, The Simpson’s Movie, Transformers, Kung Fu Panda, Casi Divas and Madagascar 2: Escape from Africa), he has recently left the studio to embark on a solo career. For more information about Zain, visit

1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Becky Mercer, Ph.D., a member of the Translational Research Institute with Scripps Florida will share her experience in modern biomedical research. The Translational Research Institute merges drug discovery efforts at the Scripps Research Florida campus with advanced technology platforms to rapidly identify and validate biological pathways that can be targeted for therapeutic intervention.

2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. – Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, manager of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium’s Environmental Health program, will talk about her experience studying the impacts of toxic substances on humans. Her work includes human health studies to determine how people with chronic lung problems are affected by Florida red tides. Her medical background gives the Laboratory’s ecotoxicology program a link between ecologically distributed toxic substances and public health concerns. She also works with undergraduate college interns in conjunction with the National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program.

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Dave Swanson, a producer with Entertainment Arts (EA), will share his experience in developing popular video games, such as the NCAA Football and Madden franchises. Electronic Arts, Inc., is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. EA develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers, wireless devices and the Internet. A 15-year veteran of Electronic Arts, Dave has held a variety of roles at EA over the years. He started his career as a game programmer and was the lead programmer on five versions of Madden NFL Football starting with Madden 97. He has managed game teams and central technology teams working with a wide variety of people including programmers, artists, and designers. He also taught internal courses on programming. Before joining EA, Dave studied Computer Engineering at Florida Tech.