Development of Social Understanding

We are seeking dedicated students to assist with a set of studies exploring how social cues influence cognitive and emotional function in children and young adults. These studies incorporate behavioral, emotional and neural markers of reactivity. People who can stay on for 2 semesters are preferred. Potential RAs should have good time management skills and be comfortable interacting with children.

Novel, bioinsectidal ways to control adult house flies

Insects are developing resistance to most pesticides and many of the new ones, such as the neonicotinoids, are banned because of their negative effect on pollinators. A new strategy that is being developed uses natural products or biopesticides that occur in nature and should have little or no effect on non-target organisms or the environment. These products probably have antimicrobial effects on the insect’s natural microbiome and may destroy these microbes. Maintaining a nearly constant microbiome for any organism is essential for that organism to survive.

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.

Biosynthesis of plant natural products and their applications

Our lab is interested in unravelling how natural products are biosynthesized in various crop species and medicinal plants.

Plants produce an array of chemicals for adaptation to their ecological environment. These specialized metabolites have been adapted for use as pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. Our research includes identification and biochemical functional characterization of the enzymes to decipher biosynthetic pathways of interest (with a focus on terpenes) and incorporation of protein engineering to understand the mechanistic basis of enzymes of interest.

The function of sleep in early childhood

Sleep protects and enhances memory in young adults. Specifically, performance changes on a range of tasks are greater following an interval with sleep relative to changes over an interval spent awake. Sleep also enhances encoding of subsequent memories. In young adults, a mid-day nap is sufficient for gaining these performance benefits. Unlike adults, mid-day naps are routine for young children. The age at which children wean from this biphasic sleep pattern is often influenced by parent and school schedules.

Probing the propensity of soil bacteria for couch-potatohood

The DeAngelis lab is looking for two students to help with a project looking at what makes soil bacteria decide to behave like slobs rather than lean mean growing machines. Students will measure optical density and carbon dioxide concentrations, in addition to preparing growth media. Students should be reliable and conscientious workers, show attention to detail even when faced with repetitive tasks, able to follow instructions, have neat handwriting, and work at a reasonable pace.

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.

Discover genes driving cell migration in the frog-killing chytrid fungus

The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) causes an infection that is devastating amphibian populations world-wide. We have recently discovered that this fungus can migrate (crawl) like an amoeba during a few hours of its lifecycle, potentially during amphibian infection. To learn more about crawling by chytrid fungi, our recent paper can be found here:

Using cutting edge microscopy to study high-speed cell migration

Cells within your own body crawl over surfaces and through three-dimensional environments. Some cells crawl slowly, while others crawl very quickly. Conventional microscopy is good for imaging slow-moving cells on flat surfaces but cannot keep up with white blood cells like neutrophils that migrate a thousand times faster through 3D environments. To understand how high-speed cells interact with and crawl through complex environments, we use cutting edge lattice light sheet microscopy that has the necessary speed and resolution to image fast-moving cells and complex environments.

Using zebrafish to understand the developmental origins of disease

The Timme-Laragy lab uses the zebrafish and cell culture to understand how embryonic exposure to pollutants affects embryonic development and later-life health outcomes. We have ongoing projects examining the effects of phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, and PCBs on pancreas and liver development, and are investigating toxicant effects on later-life metabolic diseases. We anchor these morphometric and metabolic outcomes with experiments probing the antioxidant defense system and the Nrf2 signaling pathway.


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