Published Dec. 12, 2014|Updated Dec. 12, 2014

Eckerd College marine science professor David Hastings has been named one of five "Got Science" Champions for 2014 by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Hastings was honored for his work with other Florida scientists to educate Gov. Rick Scott, who had said he did not have an opinion on climate change because he was not a scientist. HBO's John Oliver also was honored. The UCS said Scott's statement about not being a scientist was common among politicians "seeking to avoid answering questions about climate change." Hastings and four other Florida climate scientists met with Scott in August to explain the issue. "As scientists, we're the map-makers," Hastings told the governor. "As policy makers, you are the navigators." He suggested solutions are at hand to minimize the risks to Florida, such as renewable energy. Scott has since started talking about wanting to find solutions to problems attributed to climate change.

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Stetson dean to participate in Leadership St. Pete

Laura Zuppo, assistant dean of admissions and student financial planning at Stetson University College of Law, is one of 40 local executives participating in Leadership St. Pete, the six-month leadership program sponsored by the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. The program's mission is to recruit and develop people to assume leadership roles in the chamber and other community organizations. Zuppo joined the college's admissions office in 2001 and oversees both admissions and financial planning, where she manages a team of seven.

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Toy drive at SPC Allstate Campus benefits groups

St. Petersburg College's Allstate Campus at 3200 34th St. S in St. Petersburg will host its first "Winter Wonderland Toy Drive" at 5 p.m. Tuesday to benefit the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County. Children can get their pictures taken with Santa Claus, who will be joined by Mrs. Claus and elves in a "North Pole" setting. Donations of new, unwrapped toys or gifts suitable for children of any age will be accepted. Refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (727) 341-4532.

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Eckerd writers conference registration ends next week

The 11th Annual Eckerd College Writers' Conference: Writers in Paradise, featuring award-winning and bestselling authors in a range of workshops and public readings, will be held Jan. 17-25. The registration deadline for the workshops is Dec. 17. The conference, founded by best-selling author and Eckerd graduate Dennis Lehane and Eckerd creative writing professor emeritus Sterling Watson, features panel discussions on publishing, a faculty of successful authors who critique participants' manuscripts in intimate workshops, intensive lectures on craft, evening readings, book signings and cocktail receptions. The conference costs $700. For more details or to apply online, visit