USFSM students and employees can now ride SCAT and MCAT buses for free. Photo courtesy of SCAT.

Bulls Notebook: Free bus rides for USFSM students, employees

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: January 08, 2016

SARASOTA, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2016) Getting to and from USF Sarasota-Manatee is about to get easier under a new program that offers free bus rides to USFSM students and employees.

The “U-pass program” officially started Jan. 1, but will see its first real test Monday when the spring 2016 term begins. Employees and students with valid university ID will be able to ride free on Manatee County Area Transit and Sarasota County Area Transit buses that serve the campus.

The program, approved by Manatee officials in November and Sarasota officials Dec. 8, resulted from meetings this past fall between USFSM and the counties.

USFSM agreed to pay Sarasota’s and Manatee’s bus agencies $5,000 each in an effort to help students and employees travel to and from campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. The program will run for one year and will be evaluated next year. Most of USFSM’s students reside in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

USF’s Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses already have similar arrangements with bus agencies there.

Biology instructor Dr. Bouchard readies new research lab

What began as an empty shell is gradually being transformed into a biological laboratory.

Dr. Christelle Bouchard, assistant professor of biology in the College of Arts & Sciences, has been busy since the empty modular building arrived in October at the campus’ north end.

Situated next to another modular biological lab overseen by Drs. Aparna Telang and Carlos Santamaria, also of the College of Arts & Sciences, the building has gradually undergone improvements this past fall with Dr. Bouchard adding equipment and supplies.

“I’m waiting for the chemicals to arrive. They should be here next week,” she said, adding that she expects the lab to open by the month’s end.

Dr. Bouchard, who specializes in cnidarian (jellyfish, coral and sea anemone) research, plans to conduct experiments in two areas. One will examine the stinging cells of Portuguese-man-of-war, known for its venomous tentacles. Dr. Bouchard will probe the tiny, stinging cells to delve into their inner-workings. She said the cells sense vibration and resemble the miniscule hair cells inside human ears.

“How we perceive sound in the environment is very similar to how these cells sense vibration,” she said.

She also intends to examine new models for gene expression using oocytes, or unfertilized fish eggs. Collaborating with Dr. Nicole Rhody at the Mote Aquaculture Park, this study was initiated last summer at Mote.

“This is very exploratory, very technical,” she said. “I’m trying to see if we can use fish oocytes as models to express genes, instead of the more prevalent frog oocyte model.”

Dr. Bouchard will have some help throughout her work. Three interns – Lauren Altomare, Brad Boserup and Cristena Solorzano – are signed on to assist during phases of Dr. Bouchard’s research.

Dr. Jane Rose, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said the involvement of undergraduates in high-level research is not unusual at USFSM. “It’s very much in keeping with how we like to involve students, to assist in their education,” she said.

Read more news stories below or view as a list