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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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