USF Sarasota-Manatee to open second biological laboratory

Student Ruby Ramos conducts research at the biology lab that opened in early May.

Student Ruby Ramos conducts research at the biology lab that opened in early May.

SARASOTA, Fla. (May 27, 2015) – USF Sarasota-Manatee has received a $50,000 grant from the Selby Foundation to support construction of a second modular laboratory for biological research.

The grant, received Friday, helps narrow the university’s fundraising target to support the lab after funds provided to the university financed another 600-square-foot modular lab this past spring.

“The Selby Foundation has always been a great supporter of USF Sarasota-Manatee and this latest gift continues that great partnership,” said Dennis Stover, regional vice chancellor for university advancement. “We are looking forward to the future of our relationship with the Selby Foundation as our biology and STEM programs continue to grow and evolve.”

With the donation by the Selby Foundation, university officials are hopeful the second research lab will be installed this summer at the campus’ north end, alongside the existing lab, and operating by September.

Researchers are wasting no time making use of the first lab. This past month, faculty and undergraduate researchers teamed up to seek ways to control mosquito populations by studying pathogens inside the insects.

“Our biology program places great importance on having undergraduates really ‘do’ science,” Dr. Jane Rose, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said.  “Our biology faculty is engaged in meaningful research, assisted by qualified undergraduate students. This kind of learning environment, which provides students with a competitive advantage as they proceed to employment or graduate study, requires significant resources for equipped labs.”

Dr. Christelle Bouchard, who will occupy the second lab, said she’s already making plans once she moves in. She said she will conduct research into cellular biology using jellyfish. Research shows that jellyfish sense and react to their environment with basic cellular responses similar to those in humans and other creatures.

“This lab will give students the opportunity to realize hands-on lessons of the classroom,” Dr. Bouchard said. “Learning is helped by doing. Moreover, students participating in the research will learn aspects of science that cannot be taught in the classroom. As for myself, I will look forward to learning and progressing in the lab along with my students.”

University officials regard the facilities critical to enhancing students’ understanding of biological sciences, prompting fundraising efforts that began last fall. That fundraising is continuing.

The Selby Foundation has provided more than $94 million in grants and scholarships to nearly 400 organizations and more than 1,000 students since its formation by William and Marie Selby in 1955. The foundation’s primary focus is capital projects in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties.