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Authors, Artists & Scholars Visiting this Fall


Each term Master the Possibilities reaches out to visiting authors, artists and scholars throughout the state and beyond to add richness and diversity to the center’s on-going programming. Many of the guest faculty focus on topics related to the current learning theme.

This term’s learning theme is “Wild and Wonderful Florida”

James Albury

Albury took over the helm at the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College in Gainesville in October 2009, serving as the director. He is also the co-host of PBS TV series "Star Gazers".


Natalae Almeter

Natalae Almeter has worked as a wildlife biologist for over 8 years. As a biologist for an environmental consulting firm in central Florida, Natalae worked on wildlife censuses, bald eagle monitoring, gopher tortoise relocations, black bear surveys, vegetation restoration, wetland delineation and mitigation projects. She then led an environmental restoration, education and volunteer program for Seminole County focused on conservation of waterways and natural areas. Natalae joined the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Bear Management Program in 2015. She works passionately to achieve sustainable coexistence with the Florida black bear through public outreach and partnership. She has a Bachelor of Science from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida.


Shaheen Bibi

Bibi Shaheen is a visiting international student from Pakistan. She is a Fulbright Ph.D. Student at the University of Florida. She has received numerous awards during her time at UF including four distinguished scholarships, Best Orator Award, Best Essay Writing Award, and Distinction Award for lst place in FATA board exams.

Robert Bonde

Dr. Bob Bonde works as a research biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville, Florida, monitoring of the manatee population in Crystal River, Florida, and consulting with NOAA. Bonde chairs the Florida Manatee Genetics Research Working Group. He holds a full professor appointment in the graduate school of University of Florida with a courtesy faculty position in the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department of the College of Veterinary Medicine. He has a doctorate from UF in Veterinary Medical Sciences.


Pamela Brandon

Pam Brandon, a freelance writer based in Winter Park, Florida, is a 25-year veteran of news and feature reporting. She began her journalism career in 1975 at The Charleston Gazette in Charleston, West Virginia, then relocated to Central Florida as news editor for Orlando Magazine and later as senior publicist for Walt Disney World. In 1995, she started her own company, Pam Brandon Editorial Services. Brandon is the author of The Unofficial Guide to Florida with Kids, and is a writer for the Berlitz Florida Pocket Guide. Her travel stories have appeared both online and in numerous local and national publications.


Dean Maxwell Campbell

Dean grew up in Palatka, Florida where the St. Johns River was his favorite playground. He graduated from Stetson University with a BS in Biology and attended graduate school at UF. He retired in 2011 after a 33-year career with the SJRWMD where he led a team of scientists working to manage and restore the Lower St. Johns River. When not kayaking on the River, he is helping to develop the Bartram Trail in Putnam County. Dean is the primary author of the content on the BTPC website and created the maps for the recently published "Travels on the St. Johns River."

John Capouya

John Capouya is an Associate Professor of Journalism and Writing at The University of Tampa. He mentors students in UT's Creative Writing MFA program, and works with private writing clients. During his journalism career he was an editor at Newsweek and SmartMoney magazines, New York Newsday, and The New York Times. His previous book, the biography Gorgeous George, was published by Harper-Collins and is being adapted into a feature film.

Jennifer Collins

Jennifer M. Collins is associate professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on weather and climate.In addition to her hurricane work, Dr. Collins works in other areas related to weather, climate and hazards. She works closely on projects with the National Weather Service involving tornadoes and fog. In addition, she collaborates with international researchers and works in the area of climate change. She is currently examining temperature changes in South America and Africa. Dr. Collins is the President of the West Central Florida Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, Chair of the Climate Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers and serves on the National Weather Association’s Specialized Operations Committee on Tropical Cyclones.

Mark DeNote

Mark DeNote is a freelance craft beer writer and founding editor of, a website devoted to Florida's craft beer industry.


Katie Farmand

Katie Farmand is an Orlando-based food and prop stylist, recipe developer, and food writer. Katie worked as associate editor of several national magazines with a focus on food, and she is currently the editor of Edible Orlando magazine. She is also the co-author of two cookbooks: Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans and Good Catch: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida’s Waters. Katie’s food writing has appeared in Family Circle, Cottage Living, Victoria, TeaTime, and Orlando Home & Leisure..

Jim Gross

Jim Gross is a geologist with over 40 years of experience in water resources. Jim earned a bachelors degree in geology from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a masters degree in geology from New Mexico State University. Jim is a licensed professional geologist in California and Florida. He is also certified as a Professional Geologist by the American Institute of Professional Geologists. Jim is currently the Executive Director of Florida Defenders of the Environment and an adjunct professor of geology at Santa Fe College in Gainesville.

Jerry Heines

Dr. Heines received his PhD in High Energy Theoretical Particle Physics from the University of Connecticut in 1979. Early in his career he developed various analytical models and designed a number of products for defense and space related applications. Many of his designs continue to fly in space today and are integrated into advanced military systems such as Patriot, Global Hawk, Longbow, Black Hawk and many more. The latter part of his career was spent travelling globally to various NATO friendly countries and OEMs discussing the use of high tech solutions to address various threats. Today, Dr. Heines is a public speaker focused on explaining various esoteric aspects of Physics and technology in a light-hearted, easy to understand format. In addition, he often speaks about Japan and its ideology, a passion he continues to enjoy.

Rene Jenkins

René Jenkins is a multi-instrumentalist, ceremonial sound practitioner, speaker, teacher and professional musician for over 30 years playing trombone, piano, and ancient indigenous instruments. Versed in many styles of music from big band jazz, funk, R&B, reggae, salsa, brass ensembles and pit orchestras, René has backed many established artists in the industry such as Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis, the Temptations, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Joe Williams & Gregg Allman, Clarence Clemens to name a few. He is currently the trombonist for Dick Bright’s SRO, a 19 piece band with a vast repertoire of music from Motown to hip-hop. René was introduced to the Australian Didjeridu in 1993 and began offering "sound attunements" integrating music, shamanistic studies, and his desire to heal others. In January 2003, René founded VibeTherapy, a sound healing practice that employs the subtle energetic principles of intention and sound for well being. René is currently working with Janet Janay Cipriani offering group sound healing ceremonies and workshops across the country.

Jen Karetnick

Jen Karetnick is the Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School, teaching poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and playwriting/scriptwriting to students in grades 6-12. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of California, Irvine, and an MFA in fiction from the University of Miami. A native of New Jersey, Karetnick lives in Miami Shores on the last remaining acre of an historic mango plantation with her husband and their two children, three dogs, three cats, and fourteen mango trees.

Tito LaRosa

Tito La Rosa is a descendent of Quechua speaking Indians of the Peruvian An­des. For many years, he has been recovering and preserving, studying and intuiting the ancestral music of Peru. He is also a Curandero de Sonido, a sound healer, who enters into an altered state to bring forth sound that elevates, allowing for healing and balance to occur. La Rosa has recorded with Mary Youngblood on the Silver Wave record label. His 2002 CD, “The Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor,” was nominated for a Native American Music Award, for Best World Music Recording.

Hank Mattson

Hank Mattson is a working cracker poet from Lake Placid, Florida. He has performed at cowboy gatherings and at pioneer events all over Florida and other cattle-rich state like Georgia, Utah and Arizona. Mattson was names winner of the Laura Rider Award for Florida Folk Poetry. He has produced his own CD, Telling It Like It Was, and his poem, When This Old Hat Was New, has been put to music on American Hornpipe by Dana and Susan Robinson.

Jessica McCune

Jessica McCune is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Mental Health Counselor working in the Community/Outreach department at Hospice of Marion County. She is passionate about Health Advocacy and the importance of “keeping our affairs in order”. Our health is the infrastructure we stand upon as we pursue happiness. She volunteers with the arts and enjoys storytelling as a path for healing and insight. She has worked in preventive medicine, whole person health and the combination of body, mind and spirit her entire career, but specifically since 1999 here in Marion County. She holds a bachelor's degree in Nursing from Baylor University and a master's degree in Counseling Education from the University of North Texas plus a master's degree in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University.


Heather McPherson

Heather McPherson, past president of the Association of Food Journalists, is a former food editor and restaurant critic for the Orlando Sentinel. She writes a blog for that features local bloggers writing about Central Florida life.

Mike Miller

Mike Miller is a blogger, writer, and consulting engineer who has lived in Florida since 1960. He is the owner of the popular website and has written and published 18 books on Florida subjects. His website and books focus on road trips in off the beaten path Florida. He shares rich Florida history that informs his road trips. His travel motto echoes a Robert Frost poem. He recommends taking the road less traveled. He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida. He has traveled extensively throughout Florida for business and pleasure.

Reinier Munguia

Reinier Munguia works with the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey as eaglewatch coordinator. He is also a commercial and nature photographer with a strong education and conservation vision. His work regularly appears in the Audubon Florida Naturalist among other textbooks and magazines. Educating people about nature has become his most important goal. He reaches thousands of people each year through his nature presentations in schools and community events. Reinier leads photography and birding trips throughout the United States, Coasta Rica, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico. He has spent the last 20 years documenting wildlife and their struggles using still photography, but has recently added filmmaking to his conservation tools.

Scott Olsen

Scott A. Olsen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy & Religion (retired) at the College of Central Florida, where he served on the faculty from 1983 – 2016. Author of the award winning international best-seller, The Golden Section: Nature’s Greatest Secret, he is a life-long student of the esoteric and indigenous wisdom traditions. Scott studied under physicist David Bohm, comparative religion specialist Huston Smith, sacred geometers Keith Critchlow & John Michell, and esotericist Dr. Douglas Baker. Former president of the Florida Philosophical Association, and a national speaker for the Theosophical Society in the US and UK, Scott lectures internationally on the various wisdom traditions with a special emphasis on the golden ratio, near-death experiences and transformative states of consciousness.

Matthew Pallamary

Matthew J. Pallamary's historical novel of first contact between shamans and Jesuits in 18th century South America, titled, Land Without Evil, received rave reviews along with a San Diego Book Award and was adapted into a full-length stage and sky show performed by an Austin Texas aerial group. The making of the show was the subject of a PBS series, Arts in Context episode, which garnered an EMMY nomination. His memoir Spirit Matters detailing his journeys to Peru, working with shamanic plant medicines took 1st place in the San Diego Book Awards Spiritual Book Category, and was an Award-Winning Finalist in the autobiography/memoir category of the National Best Book Awards. He has a dozen books in print in a number of genres and his works have been translated into multiple languages. Matt has been teaching at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, the Southern California Writers Conference, and many other venues for the past twenty five years and frequently visits the mountains, deserts, and jungles of North, Central, and South America pursuing his studies of shamanism.

Bob Patterson

Bob Patterson has toured all over the United States playing festivals, colleges, resort hotels and premier listening rooms, and has appeared on nationally syndicated radio and television programs. He is co-founder of the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival and has been featured at the Florida Folk Festival for over thirty-five years performing twelve string guitar workshops, storytelling, and music performances

Charles Paxton

Charles H. Paxton Ph.D. is Science Operations Officer for the National Weather Service in Tampa and an American Meteorological Society certified consulting meteorologist.

Robin Schulte

Robin Schulte began telling stories as a high school English and Speech teacher 25 years ago. Today she travels around Florida and beyond performing interactive, theatrical storytelling shows both solo and as half of the tandem team Tales Two Tell. Her repertoire is a lively mix of folktales, literary adaptations and personal stories.In October 2014, Robin won the Story Slam at the National Storytelling Festival. She has been a featured performer at the Florida Storytelling Festival, The Cracker Storytelling Festival and the Stone Soup Storytelling Festival in Woodruff, South Carolina. She was honored to perform her solo show My Mother’s Daughter at the NSN Fringe in Kansas City in July 2015. Her first CD of personal stories is entitled Jack and the Levitator and Other Stories. In April 2016, she released her second CD, Late Night Stop, a collection of suspenseful stories.Robin is serving as President of the Florida Story Association, for a second term.

Rabbi Sir Mark Winer

Rabbi Mark Winer is founding director of the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies at St. Thomas University, Miami. He has been the President of FAITH: The Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony. In 2014, Rabbi Winer was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for his work in promoting interfaith dialogue and social cohesion in London and the UK. Rabbi Winer has a B.A. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Yale University.


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