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UF alum headed to China after receiving Gates Cambridge Scholarship

By Kelli Kaufmann


For University of Florida alum Yevgen Sautin, near-misses have proved the best teacher.

Sautin, 25, was a finalist for the coveted Truman Scholarship his junior year at UF and a Rhodes Scholar nominee his senior year, but he walked away from both contests empty-handed.

And then in 2012, he graduated from UF with a triple degree in history, economics and political science. He earned a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago followed by a stint at National Taiwan University as a Boren Fellow.

Now, Sautin, who works for the U.S. Bank in Washington, D.C., as a strategic risk analyst, is the recipient of a prestigious 2016 Gates Cambridge Scholarship. The prize was bestowed this year to only 35 applicants from a pool of more than 800.

Awarded for superior academic excellence, leadership potential and commitment to improving the lives of others, it will take Sautin to China, where he will spend three years working toward a Ph.D. in modern Chinese history.

None of his success would be possible, Sautin reflected, without the foundation he received at UF, particularly in the UF Honors Program.

“The University of Florida gave me tremendous opportunities, without which I would not be where I am today,” he said. “I was in a perfect environment to thrive and figure out what sort of subsequent career and academic path I wanted to take.”

Looking ahead, Sautin said he hopes to work in foreign policy development, but he’s open to whatever comes next.

“When facing choices, you should go with what’s most interesting,” he said. “Not the most prestigious, but what you enjoy doing.”

UF Professor Co-Producing PBS Documentary That Explores Hidden History of Nazi Hunter and Entebbe Hostage Michel Cojot

March 16, 2016


In 1975, Parisian banker Michel Cojot, disguised as a journalist, sat and talked with Nazi Klaus Barbie, with the intent of killing him with the revolver Cojot had brought with him for that very purpose. Decades earlier, Cojot’s father was a prisoner in the Lyons, France, Gestapo that Barbie controlled. The elder Cojot was deported to Auschwitz . Michel Cojot had sought retaliation but could not pull the trigger. The words of Elie Wiesel, “Every murder is a suicide,” haunted him.

A year later, Cojot was a passenger on an Air France flight to Entebbe, Uganda, that was highjacked by terrorists. While Israeli commandos mounted a rescue, Cojot stepped up, serving as a translator and spokesperson.

“Few people get a shot at righting history,” says UF alumnus and director Boaz Dvir, who along with UF professor Gayle Zachmann, is co-producing a documentary about Cojot’s remarkable life. “Michel claimed two. In 1975–76, he was catapulted twice onto the global stage. He certainly made the most of his second chance in Entebbe.”

Slated for public release in 2017, “Cojot” explores the complexity of Jewish identity in post-war Europe. “This is clearly an important project and a very timely one,” says Jack Kugelmass, Director of the UF Center for Jewish Studies. “At once poignant and packed with adventure, the story zooms on difficult questions and issues that call our attention today. It documents a critical moment in the history of French Jews, the third largest population of Jews in the world,” notes Zachmann, “We are very excited about the project.”

Zachmann, who also serves as historical consultant for “Cojot: A Second Chance Only Comes Once,” presented a sneak peek of the project to the Gainesville Community at the Gainesville Jewish Film Festival on March 13. The American Jewish Historical Society also will preview the PBS documentary as part of its program, focusing on France, Jewish identity, and the Holocaust on March 23 in New York City.

For more information about the event and preview screening, including how to buy tickets, visit: http://ajhs.org/france-jewish-identity-and-holocaust-yellow-stars-tolerance-and-cojot.

The UF Center for Jewish Studies is accepting gifts for this exciting film project. If you would like to participate, please contact jkugelma@ufl.edu.

Gravitational waves detected 100 years after Einstein’s prediction

February 11, 2016
Steve Orlando

LIGO opens new window on the universe with observation of gravitational waves from colliding black holes


For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

Read More

NEH Awards Professor Trysh Travis

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced its annual research fellowships on Dec. 14, 2015, and Professor Trysh Travis of the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research was on the list. She has received an NEH research fellowship for calendar year 2017 for a new book project — Reading Matters: Books, Bookmen, and the Creation of Mid-Century American Liberalism, 1930-1980.

At its most basic, Reading Matters is an institutional history examining the publishing industry's efforts to modernize its rather Victorian business practices and align them with the new media and policy landscape taking shape at mid-century. Against this backdrop, the book explores the professional identity of the publishers who liked to call themselves "bookmen" and charts their struggles for cultural authority in an increasingly technocratic world. One way in which they bid for that authority was to cast themselves as stewards of democracy, using books and reading to safeguard the nation against the sinister illiberalisms of the period — fascism, communism, and "the mass mind." The book also will explore the way publishers and publishing contributed to the distinctive liberal culture (and institutions) of the post-war United States.

Professor Travis is a literary and cultural historian of the 20th-century US, studying the gendered history of the book with a focus on reading communities and the publishing industry. Her first book, The Language of the Heart: A Cultural History of the Recovery Movement from Alcoholics Anonymous to Oprah Winfrey, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in fall 2009. Her writings on radical feminist publishing, contemporary spirituality, and popular culture have appeared in journals like Book History, American Quarterly, and Men and Masculinities as well as in publications like The Chronicle of Higher Education and Bitch magazine.

Fall Faculty Promotions


Thirty-two faculty members from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received promotions, which took effect at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester.

See Faculty Promotions Here

NSF DMREF awards 1.2 million to three UF Physics and Chemistry professors

Congratulations to Hai-Ping Cheng (Physics), George Christou (Chemistry) and Xiao-Guang Zhang (Physics), who have received a $1.2 million award from the NSF DMREF program. Inspired by the materials genome initiative, the focus of this joint theory/experiment, physics/chemistry project is the search for and design of novel, nano-structured, multifunctional molecular electronic materials.

See Full Story Here

Hundreds turn out to leave their mark on new chemistry building

September 15, 2015
Gigi Marino
Photographer: Hannah Pietrick University Relations

Almost a year after the groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Florida's new chemistry/chemical biology at the corner of University Avenue and Buckman Drive, hundreds gathered to leave their signature on a one-ton beam that will be placed on the tallest portion of the building.

Skanska, the development company building the facility, and UF sponsored a beam signing and topping-out ceremony on the construction site on Friday.

“Topping out is an interesting tradition in construction and generally relates to installing the last and highest beam in the building,” said UF’s Frank Javaheri, senior project manager for the building. “It is a mini goal within the major goal and a reminder that this portion of the milestone is completed.”

Guests, including workers, faculty and staff, students and alumni, also signed two columns on the ground floor.

Alumnus Jorge Quintana was among those who signed the beam and columns. “I hope my children will someday attend UF, and I’ll be able to say I’ve literally left my mark on the university,” he said.

When completed next June, the $67 million facility will provide 110,493 square feet of space for undergraduate and graduate education, including an entire floor devoted to chemical biology and chemical synthesis.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean David Richardson said he is having the best year of his 30-year career at UF, largely because of this new construction. Richardson, a chemistry professor, has long advocated for a state-of-the-art building to replace the outdated and outmoded facilities. He thanked the workers at the ceremony, saying, “Thousands of students will pass through these halls that you have worked so hard to build. Where you are sitting now will become a major hub for research, learning and innovation at the University of Florida.”

UF and Gran Telescopio Canarias Unveil New Eye on the Infrared Sky

Deno Circe

The world's largest telescope - the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) 10.4-meter telescope on the island of La Palma, Spain - announced the unveiling of a new window into the mysteries of deep space, with the release of the Canarias InfraRed Camera Experiment (CIRCE) for the use of astronomers worldwide. More Information


Rosemary Hill Observatory named one of the 25 best college observatories:

Rosemary Hill Observatory is #4 on the list of 25 Best College Astronomy Observatories. See full story here.

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