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Editorial: Proud 50th for USF St. Petersburg

USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, left and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman unveil a sign that will designate 2nd Ave S as University Way. The Sept. 12, 2015 event, part of a block party at USFSP, kicked off the school's 50th anniversary celebration. [
David W Doonan | Special To The Times]
USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, left and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman unveil a sign that will designate 2nd Ave S as University Way. The Sept. 12, 2015 event, part of a block party at USFSP, kicked off the school's 50th anniversary celebration. [ David W Doonan | Special To The Times]
Published Oct. 13, 2015

Two anthropologists at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg made history recently with the discovery of a 4,500-year-old skeleton that contained the first complete ancient African genome. That the find is linked with researchers from USFSP, a regional university, makes it all the more notable. The university, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is having a banner year and gaining a reputation for rising academic achievement.

The work of John and Kathryn Arthur, associate professors at USFSP, led to the discovery of the male skeleton. In 2011, Gamo elders led Kathyrn Arthur to the Mota cave in southwestern Ethiopia. John Arthur found the skeleton inside the cave in 2012 on the last day of an excavation trip. Scientists at the University of Cambridge in England and Trinity College in Dublin led a team that conducted DNA sequencing and analysis on the skeleton, which provides information about prehistoric life in Ethiopia. The results were published Friday in the journal Science.

For years, USFSP has stood in the shadow of its larger sibling across the bay. But the school has an appeal all its own, as shown by world-class faculty research such as the prehistoric skeleton discovery, the school's recent ranking of 23rd among the nation's Southern regional public universities by U.S. News & World Report, and its growing campus on a beautiful waterfront. The university also has done the difficult but imperative work of increasing enrollment, improving the diversity of its student body and boosting graduation rates without excess hours. USFSP's turn in the spotlight is well deserved.