To advance undergraduate biology education beyond the traditional classroom, outstanding juniors and seniors have the opportunity to engage in individual research projects supervised by faculty. With a faculty member as their guide, the students apply their knowledge of biology, chemistry and physics to a research problem. In the process, students learn advanced biological concepts and techniques, and take part in the most valuable educational experience available to science, i.e., doing science.
Diverse Research Projects
Brent Burt, Ph.D., University of
Dr. Burt's research interests include avian systematics, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary theory. His primary research focus is the ecology and evolution of cooperative breeding in birds.
For more information about research projects in Dr. Burt's lab, click
Sara Canterberry, Ph. D., Texas A&M University. Dr. Canterberry’s research involves utilizing RNA interference (RNAi) to thwart viruses that infect horses and other equine species. RNAi is a highly conserved mechanism among eukaryotes that regulates gene expression via post-transcriptional gene silencing. Dr. Canterberry is working on methods to induce the silencing of viral genes and viral receptors on equine cells to inhibit viral infection and replication. Specifically, she is currently targeting Equine Infectious Anemia Virus (EIAV). This virus causes a persistent and highly contagious infection in equids that is spread through biting insects. There is no vaccine and no cure, therefore the current method of control for an animal testing positive (Coggins test) is either lifelong quarantine or euthanasia. Thus, novel approaches must be considered to protect naïve animals and to offer treatment options for those already infected.
Dennis Gravatt. Ph.D., Louisiana State University. Dr. Gravatt uses his understanding of plant physiology to elucidate the mechanisms of plant responses to different growth limiting factors. He is particularly interested in the environmental and biochemical limitations on photosynthetic capacity in stressful environments. For more information about research projects in Dr. Gravatt's lab, click
Matthew Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., Arizona State University. Dr. Kwiatkowski’s research focuses on two main areas of reptile and amphibian evolutionary ecology. The first focus is on the spatial ecology of reptiles and amphibians in both natural and fragmented habitats, including urbanized areas. This includes analysis of movements, home range size, and habitat use, often utilizing GIS techniques. Molecular tools such as DNA microsatellites are also used to investigate gene flow and genetic structure among fragmented populations. The second component of Dr. Kwiatkowski’s research investigates mating behavior and how environmental variables influence sexual selection. Much of Dr. Kwiatkowski’s research is strongly linked to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians.
For more information about research projects
in Dr. Kwiatkowski's lab, click
Kevin Langford, Ph.D., Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Langford's research interests include using molecular approaches and multiple model systems to better understand the mechanisms involved in the regulation of cell behavior due to extracellular matrix components and their cooperative cell surface receptors. Tissue and cell culture work with chick embryo cardiac material as well as genetic manipulation of C. elegans embryos are being used to address these interesting and complex questions.
Don Pratt, Ph.D., Iowa State University. Dr. Pratt’s primary research is in plant systematics (evolutionary history and taxonomy), with an emphasis in the important weedy genus Amaranthus, as well as the closely related Chenopodiaceae and Amaranthaceae plant families. Dr. Pratt’s current research emphasizes 1) the recovery of evolutionary histories (phylogenies) using molecular markers; and 2) using well-developed molecular based phylogenies to better understand the evolution of morphological characters. Examples include: the evolution of breeding systems in Amaranthus, the distinctive bract structures of the Amaranthaceae, and the dispersal units of the Amaranthaceae and Chenopodiaceae. Dr. Pratt’s research includes both lab (DNA sequencing, molecular markers, and herbarium study) and field (plant collection) aspects.
Josephine Taylor, Ph.D., Univ. Georgia. Dr. Taylor uses light and electron microscopy to investigate host-pathogen interactions in fungal plant diseases. She is particularly interested in the characterization of fungal development and plant responses in resistant hosts.
James Van Kley, Ph.D., Purdue University. Dr. VanKley's specialty is vegetation science, also known as synecology or community ecology. It includes the description, classification, and mapping of plant communities, the description of environmental factors that determine what plant species grow in a certain community, and the description of patterns of plant communities across the landscape.
For more information of Dr. Van Kley's research, visit the
Pineywoods Vascular Plant Gallery.
Stephen Wagner, Ph.D., Clemson University. Dr. Wagner studies how microorganisms interact with their environment and other organisms. He emphasizes the use of beneficial microorganisms to help solve environmental problems.
Robert Wiggers, Ph.D., Texas A&M University. Dr. Wiggers conducts research into genetic aspects of micro-organisms and genetic consequences of host/plant pathogen interactions.