It all began four years ago with a shared vision of partnership and potential. USF Sarasota-Manatee and Mote Marine Laboratory joined together to create unprecedented opportunities for local students of higher education to prepare them for careers in highly valued Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines and a range of Life Sciences. On Thursday, Oct. 17 USFSM and Mote cut the ribbon on the recently completed teaching labs that are now in use at Mote, and ushered in a new era of science and general education offerings that are part of USFSM’s transition to a full, four-year undergraduate program.
As the construction manager on the project, Willis A. Smith Construction oversaw the build-out of the 4,600-square-foot space that includes a biology lab, chemistry lab and student teaching area. Designed by Fawley Bryant, each lab has 26 individual student stations that are served by laboratory gas and fume snorkels. There are full teaching stations in each lab with ample storage cabinets and laboratory filtered water. Also included was a lab prep area that serves both labs and features subzero freezers, autoclaves, incubators and student safety stations.
At the ribbon cutting, USFSM thanked the individual donors, foundations, friends and supporters that provided the $1.5 million for construction and lab equipment.
The university also announced the launch of its new B.S. in biology, effective fall 2014. This offering is unique for the Sarasota-Manatee community because of its small class sizes, inclusion of Mote’s world-class, professional researchers as courtesy faculty and an emphasis on inquiry-based teaching, where science is taught as it is really done. USFSM designed this program to provide a private university education in a public university setting.
The partnership with Mote also opens doors for faculty mentoring, internships and undergraduate research that integrates teaching concepts and skills with scientific practice in a way normally reserved for graduate programs.
“Right now, with no biology degree like this offered by any public institution in our area, the majority of new local high school graduates and transfer students must leave our community to obtain their education, and many never return,” said Dr. Arthur Guilford, regional chancellor of USFSM. “This is the most universal of the undergraduate science degrees in the College of Arts & Sciences, and will give students a foundation to build upon that complements whatever lab or research career they wish to pursue.”
Dr. Bonnie Jones, regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs added, “By offering this degree, USFSM is improving the quantity and quality of scholarship and research and providing students with a competitive edge for work in the growing life sciences, health professions and biotechnology industries throughout Florida and nationwide. The hope is that graduates will want to stay and work locally and positively impact our economic growth.”
“The next generation of scientists holds the key to our future, both for developing the economy and for sustaining the natural environments we all depend on,” said Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory. “As an independent laboratory that has nurtured rising stars of marine science for nearly 60 years, Mote has much to offer the students entering the USFSM degree program. Our scientists are out there every day working to solve real-world issues facing our oceans, and by teaching this new generation of students, Mote researchers are passing along their own experience, ingenuity and passion.”
Dr. Jane Rose, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and the architect of USFSM’s general education and science programs, looked back at the four-year history of the university’s progress and growth through development of the B.S. in biology, and the Mote partnership. She praised the success of the laboratory build-out and noted that already, freshmen are benefitting from the Mote labs’ exciting setting and equipment, where they are learning to solve problems and develop a creative approach to science.
The biology degree program is the first research program in science at USFSM and officially starts in the fall semester of 2014. New students may apply for admission to the program now, and current students may declare biology as a major at any time. For more information, contact Admissions at 941-359-4330.