Graduate Student Information

Lab Overview

Policies & Procedures
Staff and Students, Please use this directory for important information about Whitney Laboratory Operations.

FAQs, Policies & Procedures (log in required)

Regular Events

JC/DC (Journal Club/Data Club)

Every Monday at noon in the CMS upstair lab room, a member of the Whitney Lab gives a 30-minute presentation either on their recent research results or on a paper of interest. A short Q&A session then follows with room for further discussion. All researchers at the Whitney (students, postdocs, faculty) will present at least once a year.  


Following JC/DC, SciCom is an opportunity for discussion and feedback about presentation skills. SciCom also fulfills the journal club requirement for some students (eg. IDP). SciCom begins immediately after JC/DC, and everyone is welcome to participate.

Guest Seminars

Scientists from other institutions are regularly invited to give seminars at Whitney. Guest seminars are usually held on Fridays at 11 am. The speaker is then invited to a grad student and postdoc lunch, followed by afternoon meetings with individual labs. Students and postdocs interested in attending the seminar lunch should RSVP to Alice Scarisbrick (

Pau Hana

“Pau Hana” is a Hawaiian phrase referring the time after work, usually spent casually socializing.  At Whitney, pau hanas are occasionally held on Friday evenings to conclude the visit of a seminar speaker, welcome new members to the Whitney, celebrate successes, or sometimes just because. It’s a great time to get to know your coworkers outside the lab, and families are welcome!

Evenings at Whitney

On the first or second Thursday of every month, Whitney hosts a public lecture at 7 pm in the Lohman Auditorium. The speaker is an invited scientist who sometimes also gives an academic seminar for the lab the next day. These lectures are well-attended by the community and sometimes filled to the point of standing-room only. Whitney lab members are encouraged to attend!

Lab Resources - Lab Space, Equipment, Boats, Cars

One of the benefits of the Whitney lab is the sense of community feel and also the sharing of resources!

Molecular Biology Lab Space

Currently, the Whitney has a shared molecular biology lab space where researchers can find open bench space and use shared equipment. We ask that each new member seek approval from the appropriate entities before using the common equipment as proper training may also be required.  Our molecular lab director is Dr. Paul Linser.

Shared Equipment

Below is a detailed list of the available shared use equipment. Please communicate with the home lab for said equipment, as they oversee training and proper usage.

PCR machine (n=2) - Use the laminated sign-up sheet to reserve PCR machines.

Courtesy of/managed by the Martindale Lab

  • Gel imager  
  • Plate reader
  • qPCR machine
  • Zeiss Confocal (Martindale and Seaver Labs)
  • M2 Microscope

Courtesy of/managed by the Linser Lab

  • Autoclave
  • Leica confocal inverted microscope

Courtesy of/managed by the Moroz Lab

  • Agilent tapestation
  • Covaris size-selection sonicator
  • Qubit
  • Ion Proton
  • Ion Chef machines     

If you would like to go out on a boat to collect samples talk to Todd Osborne and the Osborne lab members and they’ll take you out if they are doing field work.

Graduate Student Car (Prius/Camry)
  • UF Whitney faculty, student, and staff use only
  • Must have a valid Florida driver’s license
  • Can be used for official university business only


  • Reservation sheet is posted in the Admin Building.
  • Fill the Reservation Sheet with date, reserved time slot, and purpose of trip
  • Cancellations of reserved times must be made promptly


  • Sign out sheet is posted next to the reservation sheet.
  • Fill the Sign out sheet with date, reserved time slot, and purpose of trip again
  • Keys should be found hanging from clipboard in which the sign out sheet is posted
  • Each trip must be recorded in the official UF travel log sheet located in the notebook found inside each vehicle.


  • The car should have a full tank of gas upon its return.
  • You will be reimbursed for gas
  • Provide receipt to Patrick Thompson for reimbursement
  • If some some reason you are unable to fill the car up, please let the maintenance team know so they can fill the tank.
  • Be sure to record the car mileage at the end of your trip within the UF travel log
  • Do not leave any trash in the vehicle - Please help us keep the car clean!
  • Return the keys to the clipboard and log the return time on the sign out sheet.
  • Car includes a pass that allows free parking anywhere on campus
  • Do not leave the vehicles at the airport or use the vehicle to travel to conferences.
  • If you are using the vehicles to collect samples, please only use the Prius or Zoo Van.
  • Seat belts are mandatory in state vehicles
  • Any questions regarding legitimate use shall be directed to Patrick Thompson

Whitney Graduate Student Association


Current Officers 
President: Justin Waletich
Vice President: Lauren Kunselman
Treasurer: Erin Marshall
Outreach Coordinators: Sue Xu, Natalia Padillo-Anthemides
BGSA Whitney Rep: Cody Miner, Lucas Guttieres
Description of Officer Positions

The number of positions for each officer or committee is indicated in parenthesis. Elections take place in the spring semester. The semesters for which each officer or committee is active is indicated in parentheses following the position description.

President (1)

The President acts as the Whitney graduate student representative and serves as a liaison between faculty and graduate students. The President conducts WGSA meetings once each semester, unless additional are necessary, coordinates the officers and committees of WGSA, sends welcoming letter to incoming graduate students and attends necessary orientations/meetings/trainings. If the faculty/administration needs graduate student opinions on any subject, the President will poll the graduate students and report the results. The President must be one of the graduate student representatives at the annual review meeting. This is an elected position, for a senior Whitney graduate student, that is held for the Summer, Fall and Spring semesters.

Vice President (1)

The Vice President is in charge of minutes during WGSA meetings and will post the minutes to the graduate student listserv. The VP will oversee the WGSA elections that are held in the Spring. In the absence of the President, the VP acts as a graduate student representative and will fulfill the Presidents duties. Elected position for summer, fall and spring.

Outreach Coordinators (3)

The outreach coordinators are in charge of organizing the Science by the Shore Event. The coordinators are in charge of organizing the dates/food choices with Alice, answer emails/questions, make the schedule and publicize the event. It is important that the coordinators work with Administration ahead of time to organize appropriate payment system. Elected position for fall and spring (possibly summer depending on when the event is held).

BGSA Whitney Lab Representative (1)

This position is for Biology graduate students only. This position is internally elected by students from the Whitney Lab. They will attend all BGSA meetings (remotely or in person). Additionally, they will be the primary contact for incoming Whitney students to main campus, sending them the Whitney graduate handbook and addressing questions. If, during recruitment weekend, there are potential new Whitney grad students and there is a fieldtrip to St. Augustine, this officer will liaise with the BGSA welcoming committee to coordinate a visit to the lab. They will also be responsible for welcoming all new students to the Whitney lab and introducing (or reminding the PI) to introduce the new students at JC/DC. If the Biology Retreat is held at the Whitney, they will help coordinate the event. Elected position for summer, fall and spring.

Election Procedure


  1. Before beginning the nomination process, the Vice President will ensure the list of officers and duties on the WGSA website is accurate in conjunction with the President and IT Representative.
  2. In the fourth week of March, the VP will send an email to the graduate student listserv to open nominations for positions. Both self-nominations and peer-nominations will be accepted and recorded using doodle. There is no limit to how many officer positions an individual can nominate themselves or be nominated for, however see step 3a.
  1. Nominations will remain open for one week.
  2. At the end of the nomination period, individuals that have been peer-nominated will be contacted and will need to answer positively to be considered during the voting process.


  1. The Secretary will conduct the election through an online survey site that allows votes to remain anonymous (we have previously used doodle). Each graduate student has one vote.
  2. Graduate students will have one week to vote.
  3. New officers are selected with a simple majority vote.

Finalizing Elected Officers

  1. The VP will contact any individuals who have been elected to more than two officer positions to request that they accept only two officer positions.
  2. In the case of a tie for any position, the VP will conduct an election between the tied nominees using the voting procedure above.
  3. The VP will send the final list of newly elected officers to the graduate student listserv. The Secretary will also coordinate with the IT Representative to post this list on the BGSA website.


  1. If the steps above do not produce a sufficient number of officers for each position, the new President will recruit needed officers prior to summer and/or at the start of the fall semester (see step 4c).
  2. If at any time during the year an officer cannot fulfill their duties due to an irresolvable scheduling conflict, they should contact the President as soon as possible to coordinate filling the vacant position. It will be the departing officer’s duty to replace himself/herself (see step 4c).
  3. To fill vacancies, an announcement should be sent to the graduate student listserv requesting volunteers by a specified deadline. If there is more than one volunteer for the position, the President will select the new officer by random drawing.

New Officers

  1. The newly elected President will consult with the former President to begin the transition before the end of the spring semester.
  2. The newly elected President will contact the new officers to begin their duties as needed (in the summer or fall as appropriate).
  3. Newly elected officers are encouraged to consult with the former officers (listed on the WGSA website) regarding their duties.

Modification of Election Procedures

  1. Modification of the current election procedures will be discussed at a WGSA meeting prior to implementation.



Health care

Gator Grad Care

University of Florida graduate students on appointment as a Graduate Assistant, Teaching Assistant, or Research Assistant may participate in the GatorGradCare health insurance plan.  A summary of your benefits can be found here.

The current Gator Grad Care coverage decisions are outlined here. You can find information about visiting the Student Healthcare Center, Urgent Care Clinics and trips to the Emergency Room. Additionally, there is detailed information about what to do if you need to visit a doctor and you are not in Florida. These options are valid from August 16, 2017- August 15, 2020.

Graduate students can receive one dental cleaning a year at the UF College of Dentistry. To schedule an appointment call: 352-273-7954.

Coverage for your spouse or family members

Gator Grad Care provides coverage for spouses/domestic partners, child(ren) and whole family coverage. Dependents do not get dental coverage through Gator Grad Care.

NOTE: Each year you will be prompted to re-register for Gator Grad Care Coverage. If you fail to do so you will not be covered for the upcoming school year. These emails should not be ignored.

Providers in St. Augustine
The Flagler Hospital is considered out-of-network.

Resources for Graduate Students


Teaching responsibilities and opportunities vary by department. In the Biology department, students are required to complete two semesters as a teaching assistant, which most students do during their first year while taking required classes in Gainesville. Currently there are no teaching assistant positions on site at Whitney. Additional teaching and outreach opportunities specific to Whitney are available here.

Grants/Funding Resources

There are a variety of funding opportunities for graduate students at University of Florida.

Teaching Assistantship

This is department specific, but usually entails a tuition waiver and grad student stipend in exchange for teaching 2-3 class sections in within the student's home department. These classes are usually held on main campus, but some online assistantships are also available.

These awards are for all UF graduate students and provide funding for conferences, symposia and research.

Fellowships available before starting the doctorate program

Fellowships available within the first two years

Dissertation Fellowships
Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Award (open to international students)
Supplemental Retention Scholarship (open to international students)

Grants Open to International Students

Graduation Info

IMPORTANT: You will want to start preparing for graduation at least one full semester before the term in which you plan to defend! For example, if you plan to defend in November, you’ll want to begin gathering materials and writing in January or February. If your goal is to defend any time in the Fall semester many application materials (like a complete first draft of your thesis or dissertation) may be due near the beginning of your graduating semester  (august or September). This applies even if you defense date is in December.

Please note, this section was created with a PhD graduate student, so some details may vary for Master’s students

Below is a general UF grad school requirement checklist, but you will need to check with your department, committee, and your advisor to be sure you have met all of their requirements as well.

First go here ( to get the current list of official requirements.


You must verify your degree at Open the page and on the left there are dropdown menus. Select “My Record” and click “Certificate/Degree Application” (you may need to turn off popup blocks). Scroll down on the new window, click “Add degree application” and fill out/submit this form.

Then go to GIMS: Enter GIMS and on the right side of the “Degree statement” (above committee member list) there is a green check mark where you can verify all information is correct. If any of your information is incorrect you may need to contact your department or the Registrar’s Office to fix errors.

Snow submit required thesis/dissertation drafts according to deadline schedule. Be sure to allow your committee plenty of time (at least five weeks is suggested for dissertation) to review drafts- you may need to make major revisions.

Other helpful links:

Thesis and dissertation official guidelines ( and help (

Current Graduate School Handbook contains information that may not be in each link:

International Students

International Students

UF has an international student center on main campus that specializes in caring for international students. Their main website has helpful information for adjusting to life in the US, maintaining your F1 student visa status etc. Each student is assigned an International Advisor based on the first letter of your last name; you will be notified of your advisor via your UFL email (or visiting this website). These advisors are very helpful, so you are encouraged to utilize their services.  

New International Student Check in Process

When you arrive at the University of Florida to start your program, you need to visit to the University of Florida International Center (UFIC) as soon as possible. UFIC is located in 1765 Stadium Road, Suite 170 Hub. in Gainesville. Website Information.

Travel as an F1 Student

When leaving the country, it is essential your I-20 document is signed by your international student advisor.  Please check the second page of your I-20 form for the travel signature, for you and any dependents if you have them. The signature for travel is good for 1 year from the date it was signed, unless you are currently on OPT. Email your International Advisor to have this form updated. These forms are usually available for pick up on main campus, however, since we are off campus, ask your advisor to have it mailed to you at Whitney (estimate ~1 week to complete this and do not wait until last min during holidays especially).

International Student Handbook

The international center has put together a student handbook with helpful information to provide students with a general overview on what to expect as a student in the US. These include information about Immigration, Getting a driver's license, Housing, Health Requirements, Getting Along With Americans etc. Some of these are tailored to life in Gainesville, so scan the relevant Whitney sections for St. Augustine specific modifications.

F1-Visa Status

I-20 Extension

Student visas at UF are issued for the duration of your study, however there are instances where you may need a visa extension if your expected graduation date is not on track. Also, as a PhD student, often the duration of your program is 6 years, however UF only allows a 4 year long F1-Visa to be issued. As such, during your 4th year as a graduate student you will need to make plans to have your Visa extended. These extensions are issued on a yearly basis until the end of your degree (yes, this is very annoying, but use it as motivation to wrap up your projects).

Roughly, this process is as follows:

  • Extend your I-20 - This is perhaps the most important thing to do. Follow the instructions on the International Center Website to gather the appropriate forms. Make sure to begin this process at least 3 months in advance of your F1 Visa expiration date. Similar to when your I-20s are resigned each year, the International Center will issue you a new I-20 document valid for a calendar year. This will allow you to legally remain in the US. However, you cannot leave and re-enter the US using this document unless the Visa in your passport is also renewed.
  • Renew F1-Visa in Passport - Following your 1-20 extension you need to make plans to renew the visa in your passport according to the instructions by the US embassy in your home country. This requires that you leave the US (ideally for your home country). The renewal process can take a few days or a few months, depending on the efficiency of your country's US embassy.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - Being paid by a non-UF entity

During your enrollment, you may be invited to teach as an assistant for non-UF institutions, or be awarded a non-UF affiliated internship. If you are to be paid by a non-UF entity, you need to seek approval from the International Center/Immigration - or risk jeopardizing your student visa status. Internships during your enrollment are classed as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and require that you submit an application for approval of this status here. Approval of this status will be documented via an amendment on your I-20 form. If this coincides with your I-20 extension, both your CPT and I-20 extension documents need to be in order to proceed.

Life in St. Augustine


Short Term Housing

The trailers north of the lab building provide temporary housing for students still living part-time in Gainesville, new lab members while they look for long term housing, and for visitors to the lab. Your PI can help you reserve a room in one of the trailers via Gail White.

St. Augustine Beach
  • Rent: $900-$1500 per month
  • Commute: ~25-30 minutes from lab
  • Housing: Usually 2 bedroom Apartments/Condos off-street parking.
  • Pros: Close to the beach and St. Augustine Pier; walking/biking distance to restaurants
  • Cons: Lots of tourists and traffic in the area from May-August.  Flooding during hurricanes Matthew & Irma
Crescent Beach
  • Rent: $900-$1500 per month
  • Commute: ~10  minutes from lab
  • Housing: Mostly 2 bedroom/2 bath duplex/townhouse, off-street parking
  • Pros: Nearby public access to beach and intercoastal; closest neighborhood to lab
  • Cons: Extensive flooding during hurricanes Matthew & Irma; far from shopping/restaurants/amenities
Downtown St. Augustine
  • Rent: $800-1800 per month
  • Commute: ~30 minutes from lab
  • Housing: Duplex/House (more expensive options usually 2-3 bedrooms, and require roommates/housemates)
  • Pros: Typically affordable if rooming with one or more person, safe neighborhoods, walk  to downtown shops is easy, community feel
  • Cons: Can be somewhat congested when events are happening downtown, commute is lengthy, renting market is highly competitive in this area (especially lower priced housing); flooding can be an issue on some of the main streets
North St. Augustine
  • Rent: $1200-1600/mo
  • Commute: ~40 min from lab
  • Housing: House/Condo
  • Pros: Affordable 2+ bedroom homes, quiet neighborhoods, proximity to downtown, easy access to US 1, no flooding.
  • Cons: Lengthy commute, lacks walkability to amenities.
West St. Augustine
  • Rent: $600-1200 per month
  • Commute: ~35 minutes from lab
  • Housing: Trailer/Duplex/House
  • Pros: Close to downtown area, neighborhood feel, more affordability to possibly live alone (or more spacious housing options to share with a roommate)
  • Cons: Neighborhood is surrounded by train tracks which can be noisy at times, more affordable options tend to be older homes (that come with all the issues of older homes), lacks walkability to amenities. Flooding typically not an issue
St. Augustine South
  • Rent: $1200-$1600 (~1,300 sqft +)
  • Commute: ~25 minutes to lab
  • Pros: Residential neighborhood close to route 1 and the intercoastal waterway. Quiet, walkable, pretty, 10 minutes to downtown. No flooding (unless you are right on the intercoastal)
  • Cons: Limited rental availability. Lacks walkability to amenities, route 1 is busy
Old Moultrie Road
  • Rent: $1200-$1300 (~1200 sqft, 2 bedrooms;2 bathrooms)
  • Commute: ~27-32 min to lab
  • Pros: Close to shopping areas (grocery, pet supplies, home goods). Quick access to downtown via US1 and Beach via 312. No flooding. Quiet.
  • Cons: Not very walkable. Old Moultrie road itself tends to very busy.
Vilano Beach
  • Hurricanes are a serious issue in this area.
  • Commute:  ~40 min.

Finding Roommates

In general roommates are found by networking with others at the Whitney, however the housing section of Craigslist can also be useful. This can be done by either responding to an ad in the “rooms/shared” section or by placing an ad of your own.  

Hurricane Threat
Automotive Resources
Car Mechanics
  • Atlantic Automotive (904) 471-9790 155 A1A Beach Boulevard St. Augustine, FL 32080   
  • Sargeant Service Center (904) 794-0827 3550 US 1 South, St. Augustine, FL 32086
  • Goodyear Auto Service Center (904) 825-1229 512 W Geoffrey St, St. Augustine, FL 32086
Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)
  • Located 1hr north of St. Augustine.
  • Most direct flights are limited to the south and northeast.
Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB)
  • Located 1hr south of St. Augustine.
  • Limited flight destinations/small airport
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Located 2hrs southwest of St. Augustine.
  • More options for direct, more affordable flights nationwide
Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB)
  • Located 1.5hrs southwest of St. Augustine.
  • Limited flight destinations/small airport
Movie Theaters
Epic Theatres of St. Augustine
112 Theatre Dr, St Augustine, FL 32086
Your classic multiplex, blockbuster film theatre chain. Located off SR 207 west of US-1
Small dine in theatre that features independent, foreign, and classic films. They also host trivia on Wednesday nights. Located Downtown just south of King St.
The only IMAX theatre available in the St. Augustine area. Located ~30 min north of St. Augustine in the World of Golf Village.
Anytime Fitness
(904) 297-2300
4010 US Highway 1 South #117-119 St. Augustine, FL 32086
St. Augustine YMCA
(904) 471-9266
500 Pope Rd. St. Augustine, FL 32080
World Gym
(904) 471-8887
1947 A1A South, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Food and Drink
Locally sourced, contemporary Southern food in Historic Downtown
Best brunch place in Lincolnville neighborhood
Gourmet pub food, beer, and cocktails with live music on St. George in Historic Downtown
Locally sourced gourmet dishes with craft cocktails with a 1930’s vibe set above the St. Augustine Distillery on Riberia St.
Delicious, authentic Peruvian cuisine on Anastasia Island in the Davis Shores area.
El Salvadorian food in south St. Augustine
Located off US-1
One of the best options for a complete vegan menu located west of US-1 on W King St
Vegan and vegetarian cafe off of SR-16 west of US-1.
Internationally inspired American urban cafe located both near Downtown and north of Crescent Beach
Inexpensive Mexican street food style tacos off of US-1 in St. Augustine South.
Taco shop located off of A1A
Casual, fast seafood located on St. George in Historic Downtown
Best Thai food located south of the lab in Palm Coast
Pizza in St. Augustine located on King on the west side of Downtown
Pizza located near the south end of St. Augustine. Go to the one on US-1, not in St. Augustine Beach.
Gourmet Southern style, locally sourced cuisine made-to-order out of a food truck, but arguably some of the best food in St. Augustine
Offers craft beer and specializes in hot dogs and sausage related pub fare.
Located on Anastasia Island in Davis Shores area
Brewery located off of I-95 with a tasting room located in Historic Downtown Square
Located on the north end of Lincolnville
Located west of US-1 on King St.
Small bar offering exclusively Florida craft beers and organic wines located in Historic Downtown on Cuna St.
Charming wine bar offering various wines sourced from around the world as well as classes and free tastings located in Uptown on San Marco Ave.

Cafes and Coffee Shops
Homey cafe located north of Downtown on San Marco Ave with coffee, beer, wine, and sandwiches
Cafe with three locations. The St. Augustine South location is the best to work from. The other locations typically have a larger tourism draw.
Small, bright cafe and art studio with espresso, beer, wine, salads, and sandwiches. Located in Uptown on San Marco Ave.