Sophomore

Undergraduate Biochemistry Researcher

Up to 2 undergraduate positions available. We will lose three invaluable seniors this year and looking to recruit up to two rising stars.

We are looking for self-driven students who have a strong interest in learning about Molecular Biology and Biochemistry techniques. No prior experience is needed, however, you should be willing to learn, bring a positive attitude and have a decent background in the Natural Sciences and in Mathematics.

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.

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.

Circadian rhythms and estrous cycles

A master circadian pacemaker in the hypothalamus controls not only rhythms of sleep and wakefulness but also neuroendocrine functions including the estrous cycle in mice and hamsters. By studying mutants and conditional knockouts, we examine the roles of specific genes and their protein products in the brain circuitry that generates the preovulatory surge of luteininzing hormone (LH) from the anterior pituitary. Projects require handling of animals in order to track estrous cycles, ovariectomy, hormone assays, PCR genotyping, and immunostaining (with quantitative neuroanatomical analyses).

Digital Photo processing for 3D work

The Digital Life team, lead by Professor Duncan Irschick, is looking for a dedicated undergraduate to work with photo processing and 3D modelling of various organisms as part of the broader digital life team (look at www.digitallife3d.com for more on the project). The undergraduate would be expected to work with the team on organizing photos, creating and organizing 3D models, and once proper training has occurred, on working with some live organisms to create 3D models.

Understanding snake-like body forms with 3D modelling

The Irschick lab at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is looking for an undergraduate to continue our work on the evolution of snake-like body forms, such as found in skinks and other similar animals. This work is part of a broader NSF-funded project to examine the evolution of Philippine skinks and the general snake-like body form they use. The student will also be looking at larger snake-like forms, such as from larger snakes.

Avian Bioacoustics - Urban noise and bird song.

Noise affects how birds communicate. Conservation biologists have become interested in how anthropogenic noise may impact behavior and physiology, which in turn may impact population dynamics, evolution of behavior, and community structure. This project is investigating how nightingales and other species of European birds respond to anthropogenic noise. The investigation focuses on how noise might change the acoustic characteristics of songs.

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