About the Institute

Established in 2017, the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies works in collaboration with affiliated academic departments and diverse external organizations to facilitate and support the multidisciplinary research, teaching and service functions of the University of West Florida.


The idea of a multidisciplinary institute emerged in August 2015 as a recommendation of UWF’s Task Force on Research and Scholarship and was made possible through a generous gift from Fred Levin—who requested to name the Institute after his former law partner, Reubin O’D. Askew.

Wade H. Jeffrey, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor, has been appointed founding director of the Institute. An oceanographer by training, he often combines his photography and storytelling to bring his world travels and science to the community. He facilitates the integration of different disciplines, areas of expertise and technologies to create new opportunities for UWF faculty and students and to find innovative solutions to local, regional and national problems.

Wade Jeffrey 2015

Dr. Wade Jeffrey

  • Position: Director of CEDB, Distinguished University Professor of Biology, Director of Reubin O'D. Askew Institute of Multidisciplinary Studies
  • Department: Biology/CEDB/AIMS
  • Office Location:  Building 58, Room 70

Dr. Wade Jeffrey has a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida, a M.S. in Marine Science from USF and a B.S. in Biology from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Sorna Khakzad is a Research Associate and faculty member at the University of West Florida and Askew Center for Multidisciplinary Studies. She is a coastal resources management specialist. Her research focuses on coastal and maritime cultural heritage, as well as traditional communities. She studies interdisciplinary approaches toward the management of cultural resources for cultural tourism development and the socioeconomic impact of heritage preservation for the benefit of communities and individuals in line with sustainable development goals. Currently, she is leading a Feasibility Study for designating a Panhandle National Heritage Area.

Dr. Sorna Khakzad

Dr. Sorna Khakzad

  • Position: Research Associate and faculty member at the University of West Florida and Askew Center for Multidisciplinary Studies
  • Department: AIMS / FPAN
  • Office Location:  207 E. Main St. Pensacola, FL 32502

Sorna earned a doctoral degree in engineering from KU Leuven, Belgium, in 2015 and a second doctoral degree in Coastal Resources Management from East Carolina University in 2016.

Ms. Barbara Albrecht is the Coastal Communities Coordinator. She has 30 years of experience with local watershed and environmental issues. She is actively engaged with citizen science programs and has served as an advocate for many communities as they address local environmental concerns. She has a long history of working with University faculty and students, both as a part time employee and as a volunteer. Her knowledge of the local environment is extensive. In addition, she sees issues from a multidisciplinary perspective (e.g., science, archeology, engineering, the arts), meeting the objectives of AIMS.

Barbara Albrecht

Barbara Albrecht

  • Position: Coastal Communities Coordinator
  • Department: AIMS/CEDB
  • Office Location:  Building 58, room 70

Since 2011, Barbara has lead the Bream Fishermen Association, a citizen water quality monitoring and watchdog group established in the late 1960s during a time when fish kills were common and measured in square miles.