Summer 2021 Biology Research Fellowships

Research Opportunities in Biology for 2021 (Pending Covid restrictions)


Kate Cary and Gordon Brown – Freezing Tolerance and Physiology of Eastern Leatherwood (Dirca palustris):  We are investigating the ecological significance of highly flexible branches in eastern leatherwood (Dirca palustris), a shade-loving shrub native to the eastern half of the US. Specifically, we are assessing whether the morphology of the cells in its branches allows the plant to begin flowering early in spring, and if that morphology affects the plants' ability to withstand water stress. Research would involve time in the lab and on the computer, as well as time in the field (mostly on campus, with a potential camping trip to Superior National Forest).

Clark Cotton – Influence of Diet and Exercise on Muscle Fiber Type and Fatigue Resistance:  Both diet and exercise can have a profound effect on skeletal muscle morphology and function. Increased protein and fat can alter muscle size and fiber type while aerobic training can influence fatigue resistance through altered capillary density and mitochondrial density. This study will investigate the combined effects of diet and exercise and their potentially synergistic effect on muscle performance. The research project will involve basic animal husbandry, dissection, and a variety of histological and in vitro methods.

Trevor Keyler – Thermal Properties of Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) Dreys in the Saint John’s Arboretum:  We will be investigating the thermal properties of grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) nests (dreys) in the SJU arboretum. The work will include collection of temperature fluctuation data in the dreys via temperature loggers, assessment of the physical area surrounding the dreys, and ultimately, collection of the drey for material analysis (leaf type, etc). This information will be used in the future to create an ecological energetics model for the grey squirrel that can be used to estimate how daily energy expenditure changes as a function of time spent resting and temperature within the dreys.

Dave Mitchell – The Magic of Microorganisms:  In this project we will try to isolate, identify and characterize microorganisms (bacteria) living in challenging environments either at CSB/SJU or our local community.  Any interesting isolates may be tested for antibiotic resistance, resources utilized or how they may have adapted to their distinct location.  These studies will be tied to on-going projects related to bacteria that produce distinct pigments and/or enzymes.  Techniques involved will include standard microbiological procedures as well as biochemical tests/assays and potentially some bioinformatic studies.

Kristina Timmerman – Behavioral Ecology of Painted Turtles, Fishers, and other small mammals at St. John’s:  As part of this research you will embark on one or more projects: the spatial use of Lake Sagatagan by painted turtles (trapping and tracking turtles); tracking the fisher presence and use of land in the arboretum; and/or using fluorescent powder to track the movement of small mammals such as voles, mice, and flying squirrels. Projects will require students to be comfortable hiking/hauling/paddling in various conditions, working early mornings or late nights, and a general desire to be outdoors.

For more information, Michael Reagan ([email protected]; 3110) or Ashley Fink ([email protected]; 3176)

To apply please click here

Application period:  February 1 ― February 26, 2021