Two Coastal Carolina University professors will be working in the community during the spring semester as part of the university's Public Engagement Directed Studies program.
Jane Guentzel, associate professor of marine science, is working with Integrated Environmental Technologies, a company that uses green chemistry to produce environmentally responsible solutions for microorganism control. Jill Sessoms, an English professor, is working with Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary, developing promotional materials and writing grants for the nonprofit organization, and assisting in the Pet Adoption Center at PetSmart.
Guentzel's project is designed to strengthen and preserve the local agricultural economy (strawberries, peaches and tobacco) by developing innovative and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional pest management strategies. She earned a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from Florida State University and joined the Coastal faculty in 1998.
Sessoms has been working with Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary, a rescue organization that adopts out homeless animals, especially cats. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from Atlanta Christian College, a master's degree in English from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is a past chair of the Department of English and Journalism at Coastal.
The Public Engagement project, initiated in the spring 2003 semester, is a university-community partnership in which Coastal professors work full-time, 40-hour-per-week "internships" with area organizations. They share their knowledge and expertise with their respective partner organizations, focusing on projects that have meaningful, measurable applications in "real world" endeavors.
A total of 15 professors have participated in the public engagement program since its inception in 2003. Their work in the community has ranged from scientific analysis of the S.S. Hunley in Charleston to working with the Myrtle Beach Marathon committee to addressing the issue of declining numbers of computer science majors nationwide.