Department of Agricultural Economics
Dr. Grace Melo Guerrero
Association the quality of diet with food outlet spending: A possible REU student project explores the association of spending patterns across different outlet types such as farmers’ markets, supermarkets, convenience stores with the quality of diet measured by the Healthy Eating Index. Other factors that affect the quality of diet, such as costs of food and socio-demographic information, will also be considered in the analysis.
Dr. James Mjelde
Many small business owners plan to sell their business to fund their retirement. Often business success requires expansion and capital expenditures. Additional assets and improved profitability increase the value of the business. This increase, however, can make finding a buyer to purchase the business for a fair market value when the owner plans on retiring difficult, especially in rural areas. This reduces the incentive of business owners to expand and create new jobs, jeopardizing the small communities’ prosperity and economic development. Often business owners cannot find buyer which can lead to either the owner running the business but not at the level previously operated or the business completely ceasing operations. To examine this issue at a low cost, a pilot study using an online survey platform, Texas A&M students, and their parents will be conducted by the REU student.
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Faculty
Dr. Vytas Bankaitis
Our lab studies the genetics and biochemistry of lupus signaling.
Dr. Jae-Hyun Cho
REU students will study the molecular interaction between host and influenza viruses. Students will learn about protein expression and purification, and measurements of binding affinity and kinetics.
Dr. Tim Devarenne
The Devarenne lab works on the biosynthesis of algal hydrocarbons that can be used as a biofuel feedstock. We are interested in identifying the genes responsible for the hydrocarbon production. We also study the interaction of plants with pathogenic bacteria. We want to understand how tomato plants regulate cell death pathways to confer resistance to these bacteria.
Dr. Margy Glasner
The Glasner Lab investigates mechanisms of protein evolution in order to understand how the biophysical properties of proteins influence their capacity to evolve new structures and functions. In a typical REU project, students analyze sequence data to identify mutations that could influence the evolution of protein function, then construct the mutations, express, purify and assay the enzymes to determine the role of the mutated position.
Dr. Vishal Gohil
The summer research project in the Gohil lab will focus on discovering evolutionarily conserved proteins that are required for mitochondrial energy metabolism. To accomplish this, we use yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a non-pathogenic simple eukaryotic model system that is ideally suited to train undergraduate researchers. We have identified a number of genes through nutrient-sensitized genome-wide screen using yeast mutants that are likely involved in the function or formation of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. The undergraduate student(s) will use these prioritized candidate genes to test their requirement for mitochondrial bioenergetics by placing the gene(s) in the metabolic pathway by using biochemical and molecular genetic techniques.
Dr. Ping He
Lacking specialized immune cells and adaptive immunity, plants have developed the sophisticated innate immune system to defend against pathogen attacks. The REU student will aid in elucidating plant immune signaling networks using genetic, genomic, cellular, and biochemical approaches. Ultimately, knowledge gained from studying model plants will be applied to improve crop resilience against different biotic and abiotic stresses.
Dr. Jennifer Herman
Bacillus is a soil bacterium that forms dormant spores to protect its DNA during times of stress. We have identified a sporulation mutant that dies during stressful times because instead of forming a spore it continues to divide without growing until there is essentially no cell left. We call this phenotype, “Death by division,” (Dead). The student will investigate the genes responsible for the Dead phenotype.
Dr. Tatyana Igumenova
The central research objective of my laboratory is to understand the mechanisms of signal transduction processes that occur at the membrane surface. These processes are mediated by multi-modular proteins that bind to membranes in response to second messengers. My laboratory uses a combination of biochemical and biophysical techniques (NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, SAXS, and fluorescence spectroscopy) to understand the structure-dynamics-function relationships in these proteins.
A typical research project for an REU student will include both biochemistry and biophysics components. The biochemistry component will involve training the student in molecular biology and biochemistry techniques, through implementation of protein cloning and/or mutagenesis, purification, and labeling with fluorophores or stable isotopes. The biophysics part will involve detection and characterization of protein-membrane binding events, using fluorescence and/or NMR spectroscopy. I will individually adjust the relative weights of the biochemistry and biophysics components, depending on student’s interest and inclinations.
All biophysical experiments will be carried out under my direct supervision. Wet-lab results will be discussed twice a week during one-on-one meetings. My objectives in training an REU student will be to (i) spark interest in the interdisciplinary field of biophysics, (ii) give the student an opportunity to work on the state-of-the art instrumentation, and (iii) teach them how to design, execute, and troubleshoot scientific experiments.
Dr. Inna Krieger
The project would involve searching for inhibitors and characterizing them in enzymatic and binding assays for one of Mtb targets. Also possibly involve some computational chemistry analysis and molecular docking/modelling. Specifics will become more clearer closer to the time and somewhat dependent on the student’s inclinations.
Dr. Wenshe Liu
Projects in the Liu lab involve the in vitro assembly of designer nucleosomes that contain posttranslational histone modifications, and their use in the investigation of how particular posttranslational histone modifications influence chromatin structures and functions. Techniques such as genetic code expansion and Cryo-EM will be used in these projects.
Dr. Vladislav Panin
“Glycans play essential conserved roles in all metazoan organisms, while defects in glycan biosynthesis are associated with a range of developmental defects and diseases, from cancer to brain malformation. However, the complexity of glycosylation pathways and limitations of approaches impede glycobiology research in mammals. In our studies, we use multidisciplinary strategies and advantages of Drosophila model to study neuromuscular glycosylation at molecular, cellular, and organismal levels (Baker et al. J Neurosci. 2018; Mertsalov et al. Biochem J. 2016). Our laboratory provides an excellent training environment for REU students, offering projects involving molecular biology experiments with DNA constructs, genetic approaches, tissue culture and biochemical assays of glycosylation enzymes. REU students will have weekly meetings with the PI, while also interacting with PhD and postdoctoral researchers on a daily basis. REU researchers will participate in regular lab meetings, presenting and discussing their research with lab members. These interactions will help them to develop research questions, learn about experimental design, practice data analysis and interpretation, and will stimulate their critical analysis of research literature. While working on their own projects, REU students will contribute to the mainstream research of the lab, which is expected to result in their co-authorship on a publication. Our laboratory has participated in the REU Program for many years, providing research opportunity for 9 REU students. Five of these students co-authored peer-reviewed papers or abstracts from the laboratory. Our overall experience with REU Program has been very positive, and we are enthusiastically looking forward to future REU trainees joining our laboratory.
Possible experiments proposed for an REU research project:
- Transgenic expression and characterization of a new glycosylation enzyme involved in neural development.
- Work with Drosophila to analyze the expression of the enzyme in vivo by immunostaining and fluorescent microscopy.
- Investigate mutant phenotypes of the genes involved in the enzyme’s pathway using cell biological and biochemical strategies.
- Purify potential glycoprotein targets of the enzyme for mass spectrometry analyses.
- Analyze the glycosylation targets (proteins and modification sites) using bioinformatic approaches. Reveal evolutionary relationship within the family of enzyme’s targets.
- Behavioral assays to analyze the phenotype of mutants affecting the enzyme’s pathway.”
Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois
REU students will work on the design and evaluation of macromolecules that can enter human cells for therapeutic applications.
Dr. Michael Polymenis
Undergraduate students will participate in the analysis of cell cycle progression in the model organism, budding yeast. They will also gain experience in the construction of yeast strains by performing crosses and segregating their progeny.
Dr. James Sacchettini
The students will have a chance to participate in cloning, purification, and crystallization of proteins essential for the survival of pathogenic bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The project will also involve testing small molecules in activity assays in a high throughput screening format, analyzing the data, and characterizing identified inhibitors.
Dr. Dorothy Shippen
The student would be working with one of the postdocs in my lab to study the effects of oxidative stress on plant telomeres. The student will employ biochemical approaches and will learn the fundamentals of Arabidopsis genetics. We’ve hosted summer students for many years and have a good track record in preparing students for graduate school and medical school.
Dr. Paul Straight
The REU student project in the Straight lab will focus on identifying genes in Bacillus subtilis that support colony adaptation to competitor bacteria. Exposure to antibiotics and other small molecules produced by competitor bacteria cause B. subtilis to change its growth, motility, and expression of resistance genes in self-defense. The REU student will track mutant phenotypes and patterns of gene expression in B. subtilis to reveal how it controls multiple defensive functions among cells within its colonies.
Dr. Josh Wand
An REU student in the Wand lab will work on a project studying the basis for allosteric regulation in the E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin, which is critical for the regulation of mitochondrial integrity. Mutations in Parkin are associated with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. A variety of techniques will be employed including protein purification, enzyme assays and biophysical techniques such as NMR spectroscopy and calorimetry.
Dr. Ryland Young
The REU student will isolate and characterize new bacteriophages from environmental samples, with the goal of identifying viruses that attack bacteria responsible for disease in humans, animals and crop plants. The student will learn techniques of viral isolation, physiological characterization, DNA isolation and genome sequencing. The new phages may be assembled into cocktails to be used for treatment of the bacterial disease.
Dr. Junjie Zhang
The single-stranded ribonucleic acid (ssRNA) phages are small viruses which infect their host via retractile pili. This project focus on the structural mechanisms by which ssRNA phages assemble themselves to recognize and destroy their host cells. This is important for a number of reasons: (a) understanding how ssRNA phages recognize and kill bacteria could lead to more specific and potent antibiotics; (b) understanding how ssRNA phages assemble could expand its application for packaging and delivery of other engineered RNA molecules with therapeutic and biotechnological interests; (c) many of the fundamental processes involved are mirrored in human RNA viruses and in important processes in human cell biology; (d) More ssRNA phages are being discovered and investigated as potential antibacterial agents, so understanding the fundamentals of the ssRNA phage infection cycle is critical.
Dr. Xiuren Zhang
The REU student will do genetic screening of RNA silencing mutants under a guidance of a graduate student.
Department of Ecology & Conservation Biology
Dr. Lee A. Fitzgerald
Changing Soundscapes: Impacts of an Invasive Frog, the American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) on Native Frog Acoustics, Reproduction, and Survival The REU student would assist with a project in the American Southwest (primarily New Mexico) assessing the impact of invasive American Bullfrog vocalizations on native frog vocalizations, reproduction, fitness, and behavior. Impacts will be experimentally tested in the field through playbacks of bullfrog vocalizations. In addition, the ability of American Bullfrogs to eavesdrop on native frogs will be experimentally tested, as a possible method the invasive predators may be utilizing to locate native and naïve prey. Work will primarily be done in the field, but analysis of frog vocalization recordings and data analysis will begin after field data collection is complete. There is room for further work based on data collected, including population dynamics of the main native amphibian being studied, the threatened Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Rana chiricahuensis).
Dr. Masami Fujiwara
Students will learn the use of R and work on the analysis of coastal fish monitoring data of selected species. The students will gain basic skills in the use of R and GitHub. I am interested in hosting up to two students during the summer.
Dr. Jason West
Warm season grasses have a specialized mode of photosynthesis called C4, which allows them to be highly efficient under more stressful environmental conditions as a group. There is a wide diversity, both evolutionarily and biochemically, in C4 grasses, however, and this is understudied. Differences in evolutionary lineage or biochemical subtype might constrain both anatomical characteristics and physiological performance of these grasses. We are interested in understanding how leaf-level traits and anatomy are coordinated with photosynthetic functioning and the movement of water and carbon dioxide in these grasses, especially under droughted conditions. The REU student will have opportunities to become familiar with photosynthetic gas exchange systems (LI-COR), stable isotopes, biochemistry, plant anatomy, plant hydraulics, and greenhouse experimentation. While the emphasis will be on grass ecophysiology of plants grown in a greenhouse setting, there are also opportunities to participate in field-based research in Texas semi-arid ecosystems. Students will also gain experience with basic programming of Campbell dataloggers for monitoring of meteorological conditions and data analysis using RStudio.
Department of Ecosystem Science & Management
Dr. Thomas Boutton
One of the most significant contemporary ecological changes is the invasion of woody plants into grasslands, savannas and other dryland ecosystems throughout the world. Our team is studying how increased woody plant abundance, long term grazing, and fire history interact to influence carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycling in the Edwards Plateau region of central Texas. Our research is a blend of field work at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Station at Sonora, and lab work here at the university in College Station. An REU student would be part of a research team, but would develop his/her own independent research project that would complement and enhance our ongoing work. This student would have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the research process, expand their knowledge of the science of ecology, develop broadly applicable lab and field skills, and advance their oral and written scientific communication skills.
Dr. Georgianne Moore
Students would join a cohort of eight students who spend five weeks in Costa Rica and five weeks in College Station. The goal of the Research Experience is to allow undergraduate students to develop essential skills in designing, executing and disseminating original research that quantifies the hydrologic and biogeochemical fluxes in the watershed of a tropical montane forest. All the details are at: https://costaricareu.tamu.edu/
Department of Entomology
Dr. Zachary Adelman
Projects for an REU student would focus on analyzing the phenotypes of CRISPR/Cas9 mutations in genes involved in DNA repair, immune defense, sexual development, bloodfeeding and digestion in the mosquito Aedes aegypti.
Dr. Anjel Helms
“Inter-kingdom communication: What are plants and microbes saying to each other? Did you know that plants and microorganisms can ‘talk’ to each other? Beneficial microbes can increase plant growth and defense against pests in exchange for plant resources, but how do they communicate in this exchange? We are interested in understanding more about the relationships between plants and beneficial microbes and the chemical compounds that mediate these interactions. REU Students will design and conduct experiments, analyze data, and gain experience communicating their findings to broad audiences. Possible research questions include:
- Do plants and microbes communicate using olfactory cues?
2. Do microbial-produced volatile compounds induce physiological changes in plants?
After completion of this project, REU students will be able to:
- Develop research objectives and hypotheses
- Apply statistical methods to analyze data from experiments
- Interpret and discuss results from experiments
- Work independently and in teams to conduct experiments
- Present findings to broad audiences”
“Insect honeydew: More than just waste? Have you ever wondered how natural enemies locate their insect prey and what they use to accomplish this feat? Our recent research suggests that parasitoid wasps are attracted to and feed on the honeydew waste from their aphid prey, but how do they locate aphids and their honeydew? We are currently investigating whether aphid honeydew and the associated microbes emit olfactory cues that attract wasps and whether these cues are different for aphids feeding on different plant species. REU Students will design and conduct experiments, analyze data, and gain experience communicating their findings to broad audiences.
Possible research questions include:
- What are the olfactory cues emitted by sorghum aphid honeydew from different plant species?
- Do these cues attract foraging parasitoid wasps?
After completion of this project, REU students will be able to:
- Develop research objectives and hypotheses
- Apply statistical methods to analyze data from experiments
- Interpret and discuss results from experiments
- Work independently and in teams to conduct experiments
- Present findings to broad audiences”
Dr. Spencer Johnston
“Our lab uses flow cytometry to determine genome size for a very wide range of organisms. A project to estimate genome size in species of Drosophila proved particularly rewarding. We developed the capacity to score the proportion of heterochromatin in Drosophila and related species. We found that replication of DNA in the nuclei of the indirect muscle of these species stalls prior to replicating heterochromatin. This stall point can be used to quickly and accurately quantify heterochromatin amount. Many years ago, a colleague in the lab published that a group of desert-adapted Drosophila have an exceptionally large proportion of heterochromatin. It was believed that they had additional heterochromatic DNA. We now know that this is not what happened. The species have more heterochromatin, but not more DNA. Rather, an unusually large proportion of their genome is inactivated. We will test the hypothesize that the DNA is tightly wound into heterochromatin to protect it from the harsh summer desert conditions. Drosophila can be heat-shocked as larvae by a brief exposure to elevated temperatures. This activates heat-shock proteins that protect other proteins from degradation. A very workable and very publishable undergraduate project will be to heat-shock selected Drosophila species and determine the proportion of heterochromatic DNA before and after heat-shock exposure. To date, no one has shown a change. However, we are the first to develop tools to test this. We are also the first to show that replication stall in the nuclei of flight muscles. With this in mind, we will also test flight performance before and after heat-shock exposure. Although the flight test is fast and easily to perform, no one has used the test in this way.
- Test flight performance as a function of heterochromation amount. It may be that flight performance is enhanced by the change in heterochromatin amount. The proposed work can easily be completed in a summer REU. The REU student will learn to run a state-of-the-art flow cytometer. The student can present and author a publication based on the result.”
Dr. Juliana Rangel
Dr. Rangel’s lab has three possible projects for a summer REU student. 1) Determining the types and levels of honey bee-associated viruses in feral Africanized honey bees compared to nearby managed honey bees. 2) Testing the efficacy of various protein supplements given to honey bee colonies, as well as the effects of these supplements on colony growth and performance. 3) Measuring the pollination efficacy of honey bee colonies when placed in fields of specialty crops (e.g., citrus, watermelon, or cotton) of various nutritional value to bees. 4) Testing the effects of poor nutrition on honey bee queen and/or drone reproductive quality.
Dr. Hojun Song
REU students will be involved in a project on studying the molecular basis of acoustic communication in crickets and katydids. Students will also be involved in a project on studying the molecular basis of density-dependent phenotypic plasticity in locusts.
Dr. Cecilia Tamborindeguy
Our laboratory studies the molecular interactions among ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’, a bacterial pathogen, its vector, the potato psyllid, and its host plant. This pathogen is responsible for devastating plant diseases in solanaceous plants in the the Americas and apiaceous crops in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Specifically, we are indentifying bacterial proteins that can disrupt the insect or the plant immune responses. The overall objective is to develop novel control strategies. The REU student joining our laboratory is expected to contribute to this project learning entomology, plant physiology and microbiology and gaining practical experience in identifying protein-protein interactions, and performing gene expression analyses, PCR and cloning.
Dr. Edward Vargo
We have a couple of REU summer research projects in the area of the biology and management of urban pests. One area of active research is on the ecology and population genetics of urban ant pests. This project would involve some field work to collect ants, DNA extractions and microsatellite genotyping to determine colony breeding structure and population genetic structure. Another project focuses on the interaction of termites and wood rot fungi. This work would involve conducting feeding assays with termites on wood inoculated with different wood rot fungi.
Department of Nutrition & Food Science
Dr. Erin Giles
Ongoing projects in the Giles lab are studying the link between obesity and breast cancer. REU student(s) will participate in studies using cell culture and/or rodent models examining the impact of diet, exercise, and or pharmacological agents on development and progression of breast cancers.
Dr. Yuxiang Sun
Ongoing projects in the Sun lab are studying the benefit of berberine, a “healthy” chemical present in plants such as turmeric and herbs that seems to interact with the satiety hormone ghrelin. REU students will read relevant literature, learn experimental skills in cell culture, gene transfection, flow cytometry, qPCR, and western blotting.
Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology
Dr. Sanjay Antony-Babu
Title: Bioprospecting plant associated actinomycetes
Description: Actinobacteria have an unrivalled track record in biotechnology, finding their major applications in pharmaceuticals and plant growth promotion. The project will focus on isolating, characterizing and bioprospecting of actinomycetes from maize and cotton. The student will be trained in microbial isolation, DNA extraction, PCR, phylogenetics and relevant bioinformatics.
Dr. Michael Kolomiets
Students will be able to identify the functions of lipoxygenase gene family in resistance against fall armyworm by utilizing available LOX mutants in maize, and to identify novel oxylipin signals governing insect resistance by analytical chemistry approaches.
Dr. Libo Shan
Dr. Shan’s laboratory has established a series of platforms for functional, biochemical and translational genomic studies in cotton to improve its stress resilience. REU students will be involved in a project on Unraveling Molecular Players in Cotton-Fusarium Interaction to Mitigate Infections. Students will characterize fungal fusarium field isolates obtained from Texas cotton-growing regions with active F. oxysporum infection cycles, and perform the phylogenetic relationships among pathogenic and non-pathogenic races using marker-assisted next-generation sequencing. The project will gain insight into the genetic diversity and pathogenicity process of different Fov genotypes in the cotton fields.
Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences
Dr. Andrea Ettekal
Our lab has two mixed methods studies involving character development through competitive youth programs. In one study, we are investigating how coaches’ attitudes, values, and behaviors are associated with character development in competitive youth programs by collecting quantitative survey data and qualitative interview data from youth, parents, and coaches involved in 4-H programs. In another study, we are developing a program evaluation profile, including a context analysis and theory of change, to understand programming and its effectiveness of a summer camp for youth from low resource families. Across the two studies, there are opportunities to contribute to survey/interview design (e.g., creating surveys in Qualtrics), data collection (conducting interviews and/or administering surveys), and data management (e.g., data entry).
Dr. Jim Petrick
The student(s) will be assisting with research on the physiological benefits of travel. They will help to inform the study via a review of related literature and will assist with the development of measures and methods for collecting physiological data from other undergraduate students.
Department of Soil and Crop Sciences
Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan
The Bagavathiannan lab has multiple projects that students can be a part of.
- Project 1- The focus of this project is to work on the use of drones for weed mapping in agricultural fields. The student will gain excellent exposure to drone-based research for field scouting of weeds.
- Project 2- The focus of this project is to evaluate organic weed control methods in cotton. There are opportunities for hands-on experience with cover crops, living mulches and non-synthetic organic weed control options.
- Project 3: The focus of this project is understanding gene flow between sorghum and johnsongrass. The student will gain experience with field crosses and progeny characterization for fitness and adaptive traits.
Evaluate organic weed control methods in cotton. Opportunities for hands-on experience with cover crops, living mulches and non-chemical weed control options.
An REU student project will focus on understanding gene flow between sorghum and johnsongrass. The student will gain experience with field crosses and progeny characterization for fitness and adaptive traits.
Dr. Sakiko Okumoto
Plant roots secrete various chemicals, both “common” metabolites such as sugar and amino acids, as well as specialized chemicals to modify the activities of soil microbes. We are interested in how the plant root-derived chemicals affect the use of nitrogen, one of the most important plant nutrient for growth. The student is expected to analyze the responses of microbes to a set of plants that secrete varied amounts of root-derived chemicals to understand the impacts of chemicals secreted by plant roots.
Dr. Ben McKnight and Dr. Tony Provin
Summer undergraduate research project evaluating different crop species grown in varying levels of soil compaction. Student will gain experience in several common laboratory and glasshouse research pratices and techniques, as well as novel approaches and techniques that will be developed throughout this research project.
Dr. Nithya Rajan
Undergraduate research will involve investigation of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon intensity associated with production of sorghum for biofuels. Student will receive hands on experience in working with the latest state-of-the-art instrumentation for greenhouse gas emissions. Research will involve travel to project site located near Perryton, TX with a team of post-docs, graduate and undergraduate students. This work is part of a Department of Energy funded SMARTFARM project.
Dr. Endang Septiningih
An REU student will perform gene editing in rice or legumes (for abiotic stress tolerance or nutrition improvement).
Dr. Michael Thomson
An REU student will work toward optimizing CRISPR/Cas-based gene editing tools and applying them towards crop improvement for key traits such as modified flowering time, stress tolerance, and nutrient composition, in rice and industrial hemp.
Dr. Briana Wyatt
An REU student will assist in collecting soil samples from TexMesonet monitoring sites throughout the state of Texas for laboratory analysis and characterization of soil physical and hydraulic properties, including bulk density, texture, field capacity, and permanent wilting point. Data will be used to construct a state-wide soil physical property database which will be used to create high-resolution maps of soil moisture to be made available to the public via www.texmesonet.org
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
Dr. Perry Barboza
We have a project that applies digital technology to a well-established method for determining the diets of wild animals. The REU student will work on developing automated methods to determine diets of a variety of herbivores including moose, caribou, goats and deer. Diet composition of animals will be determined from slides that have already been prepared from fecal samples. The REU student will use a scanning microscope and image recognition software while learning about the role diet composition plays in wildlife nutrition.
Dr. Delbert Gatlin
We could select any number of topics dealing with nutrition and metabolism of fish which could be executed in comparative feeding trials in our wet lab. We also would have several fish species available at that time for the feeding trials including red drum, channel catfish, hybrid striped bass and tilapia.
Dr. Jacquelyn Grace
Students will participate in avian ecological and hormonal research, focused on how birds perceive and respond to environmental stressors. Research projects include avian hormonal and immune responses along elevational gradients, and the effects of nest parasitism on duckling physiology and behavior.
Dr. Luis Hurtado
Research Projects include:
- Conservation genetics of sea turtles, including the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.
- Population genetics of the blue crab Callinectes sapidus and other marine invertebrates in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Worldwide phylogeography and evolution of coastal isopods
- Evolution of terrestriality in Oniscideans, the most successful crustacean group to invade land.
- Conservation/population genetics of freshwater fishes.
- Independent projects on population genetics of any taxa.
Dr. Mariana Mateos
Insect-bacteria associations, particularly evolutionary ecology and mechanisms involved in defensive mutualisms.
One potential project within this theme involves determining whether one or more fly-bacteria associations are mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasitic, particularly in the context of different natural enemies (wasps) of the fly. Another potential project utilizes molecular tools to examine the mechanism by which bacteria protect their host (fly) against a natural enemy (wasp). A third potential project involves searching for new insect-bacteria associations by using PCR to screen insect DNA for infection with certain bacteria. Evolutionary genetics of fishes and other organisms. Potential projects involve characterizing genetic diversity and evolutionary history of asexual fish hybrids or insects. For more info, see http://people.tamu.edu/~mmateos
Dr. Michael Morrison
The REU student will work with Natalie Hamilton, PhD Candidate, on a project stemming from her dissertation research on the population genetics of Townsend’s big-eared bats. This undergraduate student will work to determine if bats are roosting as family groups in their hibernating colonies. Through this project, the REU student will learn molecular laboratory techniques (i.e. DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis) and bioinformatics skills (microsatellite scoring, scripting in R).
Dr. John Tomecek
The REU student will work on a project titled, “Understanding Habitat Selection of American Alligators in Harvested and Unharvested Landscapes.” The student will assist a graduate student in the capture, handling, and attachment of GPS-tracking devices on American alligators in the Upper Texas Coast on sites with harvest, and others without. The student will also assist in the locating and monitoring of alligator nests, deploying remote cameras to determine the sources and extent of predation on alligator nests.
Dr. Jessica Yorzinski
The REU student would work on a project related to sensory ecology in birds. The student would gain experience in designing and conducing an experiment as well as learn valuable field techniques such as capturing and measuring birds.