Summer 2014 Biology Research Fellowships

The summer research program in Biology offers students an opportunity to engage in scholarly work during the summer, working closely with faculty members in a professional environment. These positions are intended to provide students experience in biological research beyond the classroom, to continue the scholarly pursuits of our faculty, and to develop partnerships between them.

We anticipate hiring 8 students this summer.  Applicants must be current CSB/SJU students, unfortunately seniors may not apply. 

The Fellowships include wages for 10 wks of full time work (approximately $9.91/hr or $3900, for the summer).  Students also receive a room and board supplement (approximately $1600) to cover the expenses of on-campus living.  Students may also choose to live off campus.

Projects will run for 10 weeks in the summer and we expect that any other summer activities will not conflict with their research duties, which may not be during normal working hours. All Biology Summer Research Fellows must attend safety training.


Applications are available here.  Applications must be received by 4PM on January 31, 2014.  We expect to make decisions by March 1, 2014. 

These and other positions are posted at the CSBSJU Undergraduate Research website, and click on Summer Research.

Additionally, the Center for Global Education administers the China Summer Research Program, in which science students can participate in research at Southwest University in China:


Questions?  Contact

Dr. Reagan ([email protected])

Biology Department

Proposed Biology Research Opportunities in 2014 may include: 

Dr. Gordon Brown - Students working with Gordon Brown will be involved in projects related to terrestrial plant ecology.  All of these projects will require the student to work outdoors in the Arboretum and other nearby natural areas throughout the summer.  

Dr. Clark Cotton - Hibernation: Kidney Function at the Limits

Mammalian kidneys produce concentrated urine through the formation of a cortico-papillary osmotic gradient.  However, this poses a dilemma for kidney cells: how to avoid cell shrinkage in an incredibly hyperosmotic environment.  Kidney cells avoid this problem by accumulating organic osmolytes in sufficient concentrations to provide osmotic balance. Although this process typically occurs over a period of days, we recently discovered that prairie dogs can drastically increase organic osmolyte concentrations during arousal from hibernation, an event that takes place in a few hours.  It remains unclear whether or not other hibernating animals share this ability.  To this end, we will investigate the regulation of organic osmolytes in the thirteen-lined ground squirrel.  Students will trap and handle squirrels, collect blood and urine samples, and measure concentrations of organic osmolytesusing HPLC and ELISA.  The project could be extended through the following winter, providing opportunity for an honors thesis.

Dr. Barb May - Microbial populations and health.

This summer, we will collect and identify bacterial populations in varying environments to speculate on their impact on health. For example, preliminary research suggests that different microbial populations reside on inorganic and organic foods. Who are these microbes and how might this impact our health? We will use metagenomic 16S sequencing, bioinformatics, and culturing techniques to identify and research these populations. We plan to explore bacterial populations in foods as well as environments including lake and soil ecosystems to compare fish slime bacterial populations and differences in soil populations as climate change occurs. Students must be interested in outdoor research, genetics, and computer-based analysis of sequence data.

Dr. David Mitchell - Antibiotic resistance in local water supplies - the magical biochemistry of bacteria

Bacterial organisms are capable of responding (evolving) to a whole series of environmental challenges - physical and the products of our industrial society.  This project will attempt to identify and characterize the biochemical mechanisms used by bacterial to evolve in response to changes in their environment.  These changes may include the introduction of antibiotics in their growth medium or a variety of physical parameters like heat, osmotic potential, salt concentration, pH, and chemicals.  Growth curves, resistance coefficients and attempts to identify changes in membrane composition and/or protein production will be assayed in an attempt to identify the specific changes bacteria are making in response to these challenges.

Dr. Elizabeth Wurdak - Cellular Responses to Stress and Cytoskeleton Inhibitors

In this project one or two students will design and test experimental protocols to investigate the response of cultured mammalian cells to inducers of autophagy and agents that inhibit cell motility.  Students will practice aseptic cell culture techniques, count cells, determine cell viability and apply special staining techniques including fluorescence to observe cells.   The results will be used to develop laboratory exercises for the fall 2014 Cell Biology course.   Applicants should be detail oriented and enjoy looking through the microscope for extended periods.