Armored scale insect systematics

Our laboratory uses DNA sequences and morphological characters to investigate the diversity, evolution and ecology of armored scale insects (class Insecta: order Hemiptera: family Diaspididae), especially in tropical rainforests. Paid lab assistantships are available for students to prepare DNA and microscope slide mounts from individual armored scale insect specimens. For advanced students, independent research projects are also possible.

Global Patterns of Urban Biodiversity and Socioeconomic Inequality

In some cities, plant and animal diversity is closely tied to the wealth of city residents (more money means more diverse ferns and flowers, for example). But this is not the case in every city. Evan Kuras (graduate student) seeks an undergraduate research assistant to aid in a analysis of biodiversity and socioeconomic that will help us better understand these patterns at a global scale. The student will help compile, manage, and analyze city-level information related to such patterns.

Avian Vocal Behavior: Pine Warblers

Birds of many species in the wood-warbler family use their songs in especially interesting ways. For example, their songs fall into two categories, and the two kinds of songs are used in different contexts, vary over time and space in different ways, and have different functions in communication. However, although many species in the family share this two-tiered singing system, species differ in the sizes of their song repertoires, how the difference between the two categories is encoded, how song form varies within a population, how songs change over time, and so on.

Adventures in root growth

I am looking for a motivated undergraduate to help us with our experiments on the growth of plant roots. For the moment, tasks will be physiologically based, measuring elongation rate, root diameter, and some other parameters. Some methods will use basic light microscopy. Molecular experiments are likely, in the future. Some work managing plant growth and seed harvet to maintain our lines will also be involved. As the student gains experience in the lab, they will get to take on their own project. Previous lab work is not necessary.

Sex determination through programmed cell death in corn flowers

Male corn flowers undergo programmed cell death to selectively delete female sex organs. Although this process is critical to development and, in turn, to crop production, little is known about the genes controlling corn sex determination. Our lab has identified corn mutants that do not undergo programmed cell death in flowers. We are working towards understanding which genes have been disrupted in these mutants, and how they function in normal flower development. We are seeking a motivated undergraduate to assist with a project studying these genes.

The evolution of gene regulation in plants

Protein coding gene sequences differ very little between closely related species. Despite nearly identical proteins, the spatio-temporal use of protein-encoding genes, also called gene expression, is much more divergent, and likely explains differences between different species. We are seeking a motivated undergraduate to assist with a project studying gene expression in plants, and how evolution can conserve or innovate on expression patterns to explain the diversity we see in the plant kingdom.

Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to study the genetics of plant development

Grasses are one of nature’s most successful experiments, the family displays a stunning amount of diversity. We have identified a previously uncharacterized family of plant genes that has undergone an extensive expansion during the evolution of grasses, and are likely contributing to grass development and physiology. We are looking for a motivated undergraduate to assist with a project studying these genes. To do this, we are using a CRISPR/Cas9 targeted knockout strategy in maize and Brachypodium distachyon.

Bird TV? Behavioral Analysis of Nesting Songbirds from NestCam Footage

Research in the Warren lab focuses on the impacts of urbanization on wildlife. Suburban development changes habitat structure, influences resource availability, and affects wildlife behavior. As food availability in a habitat changes, animals must make foraging decisions to optimize the use of their time and energy while still avoiding predator detection.


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