Dr. Rich Buchholz discusses careers in conservation at one of UF Biology’s Food for Thought presentations.
Dr. Rich Buchholz discusses careers in conservation at one of UF Biology’s Food for Thought presentations.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology Leadership Circle (BLC) was formed in 2016. The BLC consists of 10-15 alumni and friends from diverse industries such as botany, genetics, technology entrepreneurship, medicine, animal science and environmental sustainability. In addition to alumni and friends, BLC members include graduate and undergraduate student representatives and the department chair.

To fulfill the BLC’s mission, members located in Florida and around the country give their time and expertise to advise department leadership, faculty and students in generating ideas and growing a network to strengthen the student experience both inside and outside the classroom. Members of the BLC serve as mentors to our students by keeping them informed of current business concerns and trends, and providing networking opportunities.

For example, each semester the BLC sponsors a one hour “Food For Thought” lunchtime meeting for undergraduate and graduate students to learn about the many career opportunities for Biology majors. The focus of the BLC over the next two years is creating a Core Lab: a collection of shared equipment to facilitate development of new skill sets for students in Biology, as well as provide efficient use of space and resources within Bartram-Carr. To learn more about the BLC Core Lab, go to BIOLOGY.UFL.EDU/BLC. Want to help build the BLC Core Lab? Please visit http://bit.ly/337aaUU.

Dr. Bryndan Durham

Dr. Bryndan Durham

Assistant Professor

Dr. Durham studies interactions between algae and bacteria and how they influence the oceans, focusing on their roles in marine nutrient cycles and food webs.

Dr. Grace John

Dr. Grace John

Assistant Professor

Dr. John studies plant ecophysiology with a special interest in mechanisms linking plant structure, resource use, and responses to environmental stresses.

Dr. Stephen Mulkey

Dr. Melissa Meadows

Assistant Professor

Dr. Meadows teaches marine biology, taking students to diverse ecosystems in Florida and abroad, including St. Lucia, the Galapagos Islands and the Red Sea in Egypt.

Dr. Stephen Mulkey

Assistant Professor

Dr. Mulkey returns to UF after a decade to provide science-based understanding of climate change for undergraduates in the life sciences.

Dr. Amanda Subalusky

Dr. Amanda Subalusky

Assistant Professor

Dr. Subalusky studies the influence of animal movement and behavior on ecosystems, focusing on nutrient transfers by animals between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

The Department of Biology’s Semester of Immersion offers students the opportunity to engage in research-based courses in the field and laboratory. Unlike traditional courses that meet two to three times per week, the immersion semester consists of courses that meet daily over 5 weeks, giving students the time and flexibility to get more deeply involved in the subject.

The immersion courses offer a variety of field and lab experiences, ranging from snorkeling on coral reefs to DNA extractions and epidemiology modeling. Some of these exciting new courses are highlighted below. For the complete list, visit our website.

Robotic boat equipped with sensors to study nutrient cycling in hippo pools in Kenya

Hippopotamus swimming in the distance with robotic boat in foreground

In the “Research Skills with Arduino and R” immersion course, students learn how to build their own environmental monitoring systems. The goal of this skills-based course is to learn about low-cost, open-source options for conducting lab- or field-based research. For example, students learn how to build data loggers and how to interface data sensors to the internet for real-time data collection.

Undergraduate student Erin Walsh labeling agar culture plates

Undergraduate student Erin Walsh labeling agar culture plates

In the “Molecular and Genetic Responses to Environmental Stress” immersion course, students learn how genes are regulated in response to changes in environmental conditions, and they conduct authentic research using a tiny nematode worm. Students in the inaugural 2018 immersion course recently published some of their results in the journal microPublication.

Students explore fish diversity on field trips off the coast of Florida

Man holding fish outside of boat

The “Ichthyology” immersion course allows students to explore the rich diversity of fishes living in Florida’s marine, estuarine and freshwater habitats. The course emphasizes the morphological, behavioral and ecological adaptations of fishes living in different environments.

View previous editions of Symbiosis

Junie DaliceJunie Dalice (May 2019) | French major

Moving to Washington state was a very big and challenging change for me. From the weather to the people and the hills. However I love it here. Contrary to what people say the weather is great I even breathe better. The people have been amazing so far. I met a lot of French people in Seattle it’s always a pleasure to speak with them. I’m looking forward to visit the cities that surrounds WA this winter (Vancouver, Portland etc.)

Working at the Attorney’s General Office has been great so far. Working as a Legal Assistant allows me to learn so much before I venture into law school, I have a lot to learn but I have a great team helping me. My coworkers love the fact that they have a french speaker in the office. I find myself  teaching them some french expressions from time to time.

When Melany Vergara applied to the Foreign Languages Program (English and French) at the Universidad del Atlántico in her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia, she had no idea the path she was choosing would lead her back to Spanish.

During the fourth year of her Licenciatura studies in Barranquilla, she took advantage of an opportunity to spend two months in Culiacán, the capital of the state of Sinaloa in Mexico, teaching English in an orphanage. But shortly after her arrival, once she realized the orphans were mostly illiterate in their mother tongue, Melany switched to Spanish, tutoring, mentoring, and helping the children to complete their school projects.

The sensitivity to injustice that Melany’s own experience growing up in a marginalized neighborhood in Barranquilla had instilled in her was profoundly deepened and broadened by her work with the children in the orphanage in Culiacán. The challenging conditions those children had endured — domestic abuse, drug-related violence, homelessness — inspired her decision to pursue an advanced degree at the University of Florida and focus her study and research on the representation of children surviving in violent environments in Colombian, Brazilian, and Mexican literature and film.

Melany believes that by analyzing such material and sharing her findings, she can increase awareness of the ongoing violation of children’s human rights. She hopes that her research might help everyone understand the complex circumstances involved in the portrayal of children, as both victims and victimizers, in Latin American literature and film.

Imanol Suárez-PalmaImanol Suárez-Palma (Assistant Professor, Hispanic Linguistics) is from Asturias, Spain. He obtained his PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Arizona (May 2019), where he also minored in Linguistics and in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from the SLAT interdisciplinary program. His dissertation, “Datives Stuck in the Middle,” explores the interaction between middle-passive constructions and dative arguments in Spanish and other closely-related languages such as Asturian or Catalan.

In addition to formal linguistics, Imanol is interested in language acquisition, bilingualism and additional language instruction. His graduate education also comprises MA degrees in Hispanic Studies (University of Kent, UK) and in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (Universidad de Oviedo, Spain). When not working on “syntacticky” stuff, he loves exploring new restaurants and happy-hour spots, visiting second-hand book and record stores, cooking, and spending time looking at alligators!

Paola UparelaPaola Uparela (Assistant Professor, Hispanic Literature) specializes in Colonial and Transatlantic Latin American cultural studies, gender, sexuality, and queer studies, visual culture, race, and biopolitics. She holds a PhD in Spanish (2019) and an MA in Latin American and Iberian Studies (2015) from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a BA in Literature from Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia, 2010).

Paola’s current research focuses on the colonial emergence of gyneco-scopic regimes and on the material and symbolic violence that made the female genitalia ultra-visible and intelligible. Paola has received numerous teaching and research awards, such as the 2018 Victoria Urbano Essay Award, the Feministas Unidas Essay Prize, and the fellowship Feminisms and Science: Women in STEM. Paola’s articles appear in H-ART, Hispanic Issues, A contracorriente, Lingüística y Literatura, among other academic journals. When Paola is not working, she does performing arts and loves to dance.

Quinn HansenQuinn Hansen (Lecturer, Portuguese Language and Culture) was raised in Texas, where he earned a BA in Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature from the University of Texas at Austin.

Following that, he moved to Portugal to pursue an MA in Linguistics from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. After completion of his MA, Quinn moved to Aleppo, Syria, to teach first grade at an international school. Upon returning to the United States, he completed a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Florida under the direction of Dr. Eric Potsdam.

Although his past research focused on syntactic issues related to Brazilian Portuguese, Quinn now dedicates his time to focusing on the many different aspects of Luso-Brazilian culture including language use, music, political systems, and sports. Quinn enjoys helping students fall in love with the Luso-Brazilian world and its many cultural expressions, and is looking forward to helping to grow our Portuguese offerings.

Lorena FerrandoLorena Albert Ferrando (Lecturer, Spanish Language and Culture) holds a BA in Spanish Philology (Universidad de Zaragoza, 2002) and masters degrees in Languages and Literature and Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (The Graduate Center, CUNY, 2005; International University Menéndez Pelayo, 2013; Universidad de Zaragoza, 2017).

She is currently finishing her PhD dissertation, which deals with the linguistic and ideological approach of Spanish language teaching at the beginning of the twentieth century with regards to the articulation of the Spanish nation and the development of its international relationships in America.

She has taught Spanish language and culture at both US and European institutions (such as Princeton University, NYU, International University Menéndez Pelayo, and the University of St Andrews), and has worked as a teacher of Spanish as a second language with non-scholarized immigrants and refugees in Spain. When Lorena is not working, she is at the movies, at a concert, or just out and about exploring the town with her bike — even though she knows she should be writing!