Historical Perspectives of Urban Environmental Education

The goal of this project is to archive and interpret historical records concerning the formation and evolution of an urban environmental education program in Springfield, MA, specifically the Environmental Center for Our Schools, or ECOS. UMass Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) holds 50 years of ECOS documents, including information about its beginnings under Title III through the Office for Civil Rights. Research assistants will process this collection and have the opportunity to develop and pursue independent research questions involving these documents.

Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Study

We are looking for an undergraduate student with experience working in an animal colony with mice to help us breed and treat mice with compounds made in our lab as part of an Alzheimer's Disease study. Students MUST have prior experience working with mice and be independent and internally motivated. Students lacking prior experience with animal husbandry in rodents should NOT apply. Please apply by directly emailing

Using Microbes for Paper Pulping

Paper pulping uses hazardous chemicals to remove lignin from the hemicellulose and cellulose components of wood. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution. A more sustainable and greener process is known as biopulping, which uses microbes and their enzymes to break down lignin. The DeAngelis lab in particular focuses on anaerobic bacteria as a promising source of enzymes.

Isotope Probing for Active Soil Microbes

Metabolically active soil microorganisms may cause an increase in respiration in response to climate change. At the Harvard Forest, three long-term soil warming plots were established nearly 25 years ago to determine how forest ecosystems are effected by warming. Researchers are using various approaches to determine which organisms are actively contributing to respiration in the soil. My dissertation research addresses the question of which soil organisms are metabolically active using an isotopic labeling approach.

Testosterone synthesis induced by auditory stimuli in the zebra finch brain

I’m really interested in studying how hormones rapidly fluctuate in the brain to acutely regulate behaviors. In the Healey lab, we analyze how steroids influence vocal learning in a rapid and dynamic way. To study this question, we use a songbird species, zebra finches, and focus on an auditory region of the forebrain, the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM). Previous data have shown that hearing songs induced an increase of estradiol (E2) in this region in both males and females.

Creating a land cover map for fire analyses

Fire is a natural component of many of Earth’s ecosystems, and it has a profound effect on carbon storage. Humans have altered natural fire cycles in many places by providing ignition sources, and altering fuel loads (ie. from the introduction of invasive plants), and these changes are likely impacting our natural carbon sinks. In Dr. Bethany Bradley’s Spatial Ecology Lab, we look to address such issues at the regional level using GIS and remote sensing technology. By focusing on a large spatial scale, we are able to search for patterns and make inferences about spatial relationships.

Building a Global Plant Invaders Database

Invasive plant species transform ecosystems and significantly reduce biodiversity worldwide. A prominent issue of invasion biogeography is that invasive plant species are inconsistently defined. Oftentimes, studies use established plant species (i.e., non-native species that have established in a new area) as a proxy for invasive species (i.e., non-native species that have established in a new area and are spreading, often with adverse impacts). By failing to separate established and invasive plant species, it is difficult to fully understand the invasion process.

Wine quality of emerging grape varieties for New England

The cold climate wine industry has recently boomed in the Northeastern America after the successful breeding of cold-tolerant grape varieties. These cultivars are also of interest in a broader geographic area as they are the most resilient to climate change. Cultural practices can have tremendous effect on fruit juice quality (sugar, acidity,...) and might allow to control disease by sustainable means rather than the use of pesticides. This project will quantify the effect of cultural practices on grape varieties to optimize fruit juice quality and control diseases.

Pathogens, parasites, and predators of an invasive insect

The winter moth (Operophtera brumata), an invasive insect accidentally introduced to eastern Massachusetts from Europe, has been causing widespread damage to deciduous trees and crops. I am looking for a motivated student interested in ecology, evolution, pathology, or entomology to work with me, a Ph.D. candidate in Organismal and Evolutionary Biology, on various aspects of winter moth population ecology. Projects include microscopy of diseased samples, molecular work evaluating the parasites affecting winter moth, processing field samples, and more!


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