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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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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