Projects

PROJECTS WILL BE LISTED JANUARY 8. YOU CAN SUBMIT APPLICATIONS BETWEEN MONDAY JANUARY 8 THROUGH SUNDAY JANUARY 21.

Remember: You can apply to a maximum of 3 projects, so choose carefully!

You can choose to scroll through all of the projects, or filter them based on whether they are paid or unpaid, whether they offer enough hours for you, etc. For example if you want to see projects that require somewhere between 8-12 hours a week, click on both the 6-10 and 11-15 options under "Hours?" and press the filter button. If you're using a Mac you can select both options by holding the shift while clicking on the options; if you're using a PC, you hopefully know how to do this.

A student-run organic vineyard on campus: getting involved in set up

There is a growing awareness of the possibilities of viticulture in cool climates thanks to newly bred varieties adapted to the New England local conditions. These new varieties are much more resilient to the sudden climate variations that we are now experimenting due to global climate changes. Because of this new opportunity, an increasing number of small, family-run vineyards has been opening in New England. New courses of viticulture that we have developed emphasize in particular the challenges and opportunities of the growing local cold climate industry and small-scale vineyards.

Avoiding aneuploidy - how do cells maintain the correct chromosome number?

Our research focus is cell division, a fundamental biological process. Cell division is complex with many opportunities for errors to occur. One potentially devastating outcome of errors in cell division is aneuploidy, which is defined by cells getting an incorrect number of chromosomes. Aneuploidy causes genetic disorders such as Down's Syndrome and has been implicated in tumorigenesis, tumor evolution and cancer metastasis.

Brain connectomics

We are reconstructing entire brains from serial sectioned electron micrographs. In this way, we can find not only every neuron, but every synapse each neuron makes. We are doing this with simple brains from nudibranch molluscs, which have only 10,000 neurons. That's still a very large number. We are using semi-automated techniques to "segment" neurons and find their connections, but the software still needs humans to guide it. We are looking for students to run this software and trace out neurons from the electron micrographs.

Circadian control of ovulation

Multicellular organisms have endogenous daily (circadian) clocks that control most aspects of their physiology and behavior. On a molecular level, circadian rhythms are generated by cell-autonomous transcriptonal-translational feedback loops involving core "clock genes" and their protein products. In mammals, a master circadian pacemaker is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus (SCN). Among the functions under its control is ovulation, which is triggered by a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the anterior pituitary.

Conservation ecology of the endangered Puritan Tiger Beetle 1: field study

Conservation for all threatened and endangered North American tiger beetle species depends on an understanding of their population dynamics. Ecological life tables are a central tool for the study of population dnyamics; and the similarity of tiger beetle life-histories would make a life-table developed for one species applicable to all species - yet this has never been developed.

Describe a Species

Our lab studies armored scale insects, a group of tiny parasite-like plant-feeding insects that includes many invasive pests. We have been collecting armored scale insects in tropical rainforests around the world, including Panama, Borneo, Australia, and Gabon, and have found over 100 undescribed species. In this project students spend the first half of the semester familiarizing themselves with the structures and terminology of armored scale insect morpholology, by using standard dichotomous keys to identify a series of samples mounted on microscope slides.

Effect of a virus on adult house fly food intake

House fly is a major problem world wide. It vectors pathogens of humans, food products, and domestic animals. A newly discovered virus attacks the salivary glands of adult flies of both sexes. The pathology of the virus is that it prevents females from producing eggs and prevents mating in both sexes. Internally it causes hypertrophy or enlargement of the salivary glands. In order to produce the numerous virions essential for transmission, a considerable amount of energy in the form of food intake must be essential.

Emerging grape varieties for a changing climate: cold hardiness

Facing unpredictable climate changes, maintaining a sustainable agriculture depends on the availability of genetically diverse cultivars. The traditional European grapes (e.g. Pinot Noir) are cultivars of a single species. In contrast, emerging grape cultivars (European-American hybrids) take advantage of the tremendous genetic diversity of the native American grape species (about 30 species). The traditional European grape varieties have little cold hardiness.

Evolution of Osmoregulation: salinity tolerance in sea lampreys

The Karlstrom and McCormick Labs investigate how hormones control osmoregulation in fish, and have an NSF-funded project to examine the evolution of hormonal control of salinity tolerance in a basal vertebrate, the sea lamprey. This position is for students ready to pursue a serious honors thesis project, including summer research. The student will work with a graduate student and/or postdoctoral fellow, and research will be performed in the Karlstrom lab in the Biology Department and/or in the McCormick Lab the U.S.G.S. S.O. Conte Anadromous Fish research facility in Turners Falls, MA.

Global Invaders Project

Invasive species reduce biodiversity and are considered a major threat to ecosystems worldwide. Despite general knowledge of their widespread impacts, we still lack a consistent list of which species are invasive, where they have been studied, and what sorts of specific impacts have been identified. This information is critical for understanding the conditions that lead to invasion and informing effective monitoring and management.

Grape microbiome

The cold climate wine industry has recently boomed in the Northeastern America after the successful breeding of cold-tolerant grape varieties. Vineyards harbor a wide variety of microorganisms that play a pivotal role in grape quality and will contribute significantly to the final aromatic properties of wine. If essential beneficial microorganisms have been identified in traditional wine cultivars, in contrast little is known about cold-climate cultivars.

Insect Taxonomy and Curation

Students will help organize the UMass insect collection by sorting unsorted specimens to order (Coleoptera, Hemiptera, etc.) and within orders, sorting specimens into the most common families. Students will learn about insect classification and diversity through hands-on experience with specimens. Prior knowlege of insect taxonomy is helpful but not essential.

Invaders for Sale: Invasive Species in the Plant Trade Industry

Invasive plants have well-documented negative ecological and economic impacts. Ironically, humans deliberately introduce the majority of invasive plants, with over 50% of introductions attributable to import and planting of the species as ornamentals in our homes and gardens. Although over 1300 plants have been identified as invasive in the U.S., preliminary data suggest that many of these species remain commonly sold by nurseries and other online vendors (like Amazon and eBay).

Is Japanese knotweed out-competing forest trees on river bars?

Japanese knotweed is a major invasive plant in the United States that has occupied many of the roadside edges and riverside plant communities throughout the Northeast. We are seeking a student to work on Japanese knotweed ecology and its competition on river gravel bars with seedlings of native forest trees. Failure of tree seedlings to thrive in such sites due to knotweed dominance of bars may affect forest colonization of new land created as rivers change position.

Jumping spider visual behavior

In this project, you will help us learn how spiders react to different visual stimuli. You'll be working with jumping spiders, which have eight eyes that provide them with acute vision. We are interested in how their vision is "primed" by other sensory input—when they hear wasp sounds, for example, are they more likely to react to visual images of wasps? Your project will involve putting spiders in arenas and recording their behavior to videos when they are primed with different sounds.

Molecular genetic mechanisms of host-microbe mutualism

The Wang Lab, located in the Life Science Laboratories, is interested in the mechanisms of beneficial host-microbe interactions. Our experimental system is the symbiosis between legumes and nitrogen-fixing rhizobia, with important economic and environmental relevance, as well as similarities to pathogenic interactions. The BURA student will be engaged in dissecting the genetic basis of the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis, in particular characterizing the defects in host mutants unable to sustain a successful symbiotic relationship.

Molecular Genetics Laboratory Seeking Highly Organized Student

The Markstein laboratory studies molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell chemical interactions, in both normal and cancer stem cells. Our work integrates genetic and chemical approaches to study basic stem cell biology, cancer biology, and toxicology, using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism.

You can read more about our work here:
http://marksteinlab.org/

NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR PAID FISH LAB POSITION!

If you already applied to 3 BURA positions, you can still apply for this position by writing to us directly at email: albertsonfish@gmail.com.

RE: Work Study Job in Albertson Laboratory, Biology Department

Job Title: Lab Assistant. Hours per week: 5-10, email ASAP, scheduling interviews starting 1/22

Pay rate: $11.00/hr.

This is an on campus UMASS Work Study position for Spring and/or Summer 2018.

Pioneer Valley Forest Community Project - Invertebrate ID

Forest communities across the globe are being impacted by rapidly expanding human presence due to agriculture and urbanization. The Pioneer Valley Forest Community Project is assessing the response of forest ecosystems to these pressures in Western Massachusetts. To evaluate this response, we collected data on multiple taxa including birds, tree communities, and invertebrates.

Taming emerging wine grape varieties: juice quality

Facing unpredictable climate changes, maintaining a sustainable agriculture depends on the availability of genetically diverse cultivars. The traditional European grapes (e.g. Pinot Noir) are cultivars of a single species. In contrast, emerging grape cultivars (European-American hybrids) take advantage of the tremendous genetic diversity of the native American grape species (about 30 species). In the traditional European grape varieties, shoot and fruit thinning is known to influence fruit juice quality (ripening time, sugar, acidity) and help reduce pesticide usage.

Vocal communication & song learning in birds

In the Podos Lab, we study a variety of questions related to vocal communication and singing behavior in songbirds. Right now, we're working on a project with swamp sparrows in the lab to explore the process of song learning in males (those who sing to attract mates) and song preference development in females (those who assess songs when choosing a mate). These birds were collected as nestlings during the summer of 2016 from local field sites, and were raised in captivity on campus under controlled conditions.