SCF Alumna Uses Biotech Research as Springboard for New College Degree

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Kristine Cerbone, a State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) alumna, took the research she did at SCF and used it as a springboard for her undergraduate thesis to graduate from New College of Florida.

Cerbone earned an Associate in Science in biotechnology in 2014 and went on to graduate from SCF with an Associate in Arts in 2015. She transferred to New College in the Fall of 2015 where she studied biology. At SCF she worked with Dr. Matthew Kierle and team on a project aimed to identify southwest Florida fungi.  Cerbone used techniques learned in the biotechnology program to extract DNA from mushrooms and which helped lead to the identification of the specimen. She involved the entire biotech class in working to isolate the DNA to a specific group or species of mushroom.

Her thesis defense at New College focused on the procedures she discovered that identified the fungi down to the family classification with a 90 percent accuracy rate. In successfully defending her undergraduate thesis, Cerbone showed that to identify the species she would need to refine some of her techniques. She said defending the thesis was a nerve-racking experience, but she felt well prepared. Her professors had critiqued her research all along and that taught her to stay calm during her defense. She also said Brad Oberle, a New College professor and botanist on her thesis committee, was particularly interested in fungi and said he had learned a lot from her research.

Cerbone worked at SCF while she was a student at New College. It was both rewarding and challenging, she said, especially because she was taking 16 credit hours per semester. She is working part time at SCF until she is ready to go to graduate school where she would like to get involved in cancer research. At SCF she works as a laboratory assistant, preparing material and agents for science classes, including biology and biotech. Cerbone said she loves the collaboration at SCF, from being a student here to working in the lab.

“The teamwork here is amazing,” Cerbone said. “We all back each other up on tasks to get them done.”

For more information on SCF’s biotech program, contact Matt Thomas at or 941-752-5624.

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