Freshman

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/

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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