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.

Assistant in Biological Chemistry Laboratory

WORK STUDY ONLY. We are seeking a student with a Work Study Award to work as a technician in our lab. This person will clean, autoclave and sterilize glassware and waste, pour gels for electrophoresis, prepare plates and liquid for bacterial culture and generally assist around the laboratory. The pay rate is $9-10/hour depending on experience. PLEASE ONLY APPLY IF YOU HAVE A WORK STUDY AWARD. This is an excellent inroads to laboratory work. We will train the selected student, but experience with any of these techniques is a plus.

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.

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.

The genetics of alkaloid production in tomatoes

A for-credit position is available at Caicedo Lab, Biology Department.

Traits such as bitterness are linked to alkaloids in tomatoes. Through their anti-herbivory properties, some alkaloids are thought to increase resistance in tomatoes against pests. However, little is known about the genetic basis of alkaloid production in tomatoes. Thus, this project aims at finding the genetic basis of alkaloid production and changes in alkaloid content during domestication.

Genetics and molecular 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.

Spiders, Worms, and Pillbugs – Oh My! Sorting Leaf Litter Invertebrates

Suburban development changes habitat structure, influences resource availability, and affects wildlife behavior. As food availability in a habitat changes, animals must make foraging decisions to optimize the use of their time and energy while still avoiding predator detection. I am seeking volunteer undergraduate research assistants for Fall 2016 to assist me with my PhD research on food availability in suburban forest habitats and its effect on the behaviors of Wood Thrushes and Gray Catbirds rearing chicks.

Estrogen responsive cells in the zebra finch brain

We are interested in how hormones that are made in the brain impact neurons. In our lab we focus on the estrogen hormone known as estradiol, and determine how the synthesis of this chemical impacts audition in a small songbird known as the zebra finch. For this particular study, we are quantifying neurons that express a receptor for estradiol and asking whether these estrogen responsive cells belong to a specific subtype of neurons.

Ecology and Evolution of Primate Communities

Primates do not live by themselves in the forest. They interact with many other plants and animal species and these interactions can have important effects on primate behavior and ecology. Primate communities consist of all the primate species that interact with each other in a particular study site or area. Data are now available for several hundred primate communities from around the world. These data can be used to examine broad patterns of diversity and to test if these patterns are similar or different across continents.

Evolution of Primate Hair

Humans are unusual primates in many ways, including our hair morphology. Human body hair is very short and less dense than other primates. In addition, many human populations exhibit scalp hair that has very long growth cycles. Other primate species exhibit interesting variation in their hair characteristics, though the reason for this variation is poorly known. Our project will test several hypotheses to explain variation in hair length, width, and density across many primate species.


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