SARASOTA, Fla. (Sept. 30, 2016) As the dozen students prepared to use DNA testing to determine whether the tiny samples came from snails, mollusks or crustaceans, they heard from a researcher who uses a lower-tech form of analysis: He carefully looks over the items.
The students, members of Dr. Christelle Bouchard’s Research Methods in Biology Class, were preparing to use laboratory instruments to study the dietary habits of rays when they heard from Francisco Serrano Flores, a graduate student from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Campeche, Mexico. Known simply as “Paco” to the USF Sarasota-Manatee students, Flores is a guest of Mote Marine Laboratory, an educational partner of USFSM.
On Monday, as the students gathered inside Dr. Bouchard’s teaching lab, Flores explained how he’s able to identify tell-tale signs, such as tiny eyes perched atop antenna, to discern whether a dime-sized blob came from a snail – and which type.
Carefully examining a ray’s stomach contents, Flores can tell not only how much it ate but precisely what it had for lunch. This in turn can reveal clues about the overall health of the creature as well as the animals it’s feeding on.
The stomach contents the students analyzed were coaxed from several rays using “gastric lavage.” Essentially, Mote researchers induced the creatures to empty their stomachs into a sieve. “It’s basically a non-lethal way to extract dietary information,” Mote marine biologist Dr. Kim Bassos-Hull explained.
With the contents on hand, the students extracted tiny samples to prepare for DNA testing.
Flores’ research method is entirely different. By studying various mollusks (bivalves), snails and crustaceans that thrive off the Yucatan Peninsula, he can spot certain characteristics – color, texture and shape –representative of particular species. To widen his knowledge, he developed relationships with local fishermen to examine the rays’ stomach contents.
The students were astonished at his knowledge and discipline.
“The fact that he knows what he’s looking at, that he doesn’t have to do any DNA analysis, that he just knows, that’s what amazes me,” said Shawna McInnis, a senior biology major. “I thought it was really interesting.”
Dr. Bouchard said she invited Flores to show that there’s more than one way to discover information. “It’s very special for the students to have him here. How many people in the world have his knowledge of rays?” she said.
Homecoming almost here
With October around the corner, that can mean only one thing: Homecoming Week.
Starting Monday, USF Sarasota-Manatee students will join their counterparts in Tampa and St. Petersburg in celebrating USF System Homecoming Week activities.
Here at USF Sarasota-Manatee, the week kicks off with the crowning of the USFSM Homecoming King and Queen. The elaborate coronation is set Monday from 1 to 2 p.m. in the rotunda. Afterward, an Oktoberfest party will be held in the courtyard with food, games and music. Bring your lederhosen.
Tuesday, a lip sync battle is set 7 to 10 p.m. at Selby Auditorium.
Wednesday, Homecoming Krazy Kraft Day is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the courtyard, followed by the sixth-annual Bulls in Biz in which top local employers meet with students about possible careers and job openings. Bring your resumes and best business attire? The event runs 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the courtyard.
Thursday, Homecoming Spirits and Sports is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A kickball tourney is planned and students can pick up their rally towels and other USF sports gear. A concert featuring Dreezy and 2 Chainz will happen at 8 p.m. at the USF Sun Dome. Lederhosen not required.
Friday, students have two nighttime options: At the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, a panel discussion, “Women in a Changing World,” will occur from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. At USF in Tampa, a Homecoming Parade and Carnival is scheduled from 6:45 p.m. to midnight at the Sun Dome parking lot.
Saturday, Homecoming wraps up at Raymond James Stadium as the Bulls take on the East Carolina Pirates. Kickoff is at noon. Students needing a ride to the game can catch the bus at the campus at 10 a.m. Don’t forget to RSVP on OrgSync.
Special honors accorded Drs. Cobanoglu and Berezina
Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu, MiKibbon Endower Chair and director of the M3 Center for the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, can now add another honor to his long list of accomplishments.
The Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology: A Framework for Innovation (JHTT) has been accepted into the Web of Science Core Collection, Emerging Sources Citation Index by Thompson Reuters.
Dr. Cobanoglu is editor of the journal.
Special kudos to Dr. Katerina Berezina, an assistant professor in USFSM’s College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership. Dr. Berezina is the journal’s assistant editor.
About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee County, Venice and online. Separately accredited, USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu.