Summer 2020 Biology Research Fellowships

Potential Research Opportunities in Biology for 2020 (final project decisions not yet made):

Clark Cotton – Relative Importance of Urea in Hibernating and Non-Hibernating Animals:  Mammals can produce concentrated urine through the formation of an osmotic gradient in their kidneys. The waste product, urea, serves as a major component of this gradient. A low protein diet can significantly impair formation of concentrated urine. Animals that hibernate regular do not eat while hibernating yet must routinely generate kidney osmotic gradients as they periodically arouse from torpor. This project will explore whether hibernating rodent species (thirteen-lined ground squirrels) are better able to generate highly concentrated urine while consuming a low protein diet than non-hibernating species.

Ashley Fink – The Impact of Diet and Exercise on the Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination.  It has been previously demonstrated by myself and others that both biological (i.e. sex and age of the organism) and environmental (i.e. nutrition and stress) factors can modulate the antibody responses to vaccines. This summer we will use a mouse model of influenza vaccination to begin to evaluate how either moderate exercise or calorie restriction alters influenza-specific, post-vaccination antibody responses. We will further evaluate how these responses differ between males and females.

Trevor Keyler Deepwater Sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii) Behavior: The Effect of Light Intensity on Activity.   Deepwater sculpin are a benthic species of fish within the offshore waters of Lake Superior. The species shows a decrease in activity with increasing light intensities in the presence of the predatory siscowet lake trout. Our study will investigate whether sculpin retain this behavior in the absence of siscowet, or whether the behavior is directly linked to siscowet presence.

Dr. Demelza Larson Investigating Corneal Thickness and a Spontaneous Coat Color Mutation in Mice.  This summer, I plan to continue research that was originally started at the University of Iowa while I was a postdoctoral fellow. These experiments will entail the characterization of mouse corneal epithelial cells and mouse corneal keratocytes (a specialized fibroblast) using mammalian cell culture techniques. The cells will be isolated from primary tissues of mice. In addition to these experiments, I will be performing experiments to determine the role of Tyrosinase (a protein implicated in contributing to corneal thickness) in mouse corneal cells.

Dr. David Mitchell Bacterial Evolution.   This project will investigate the evolution of bacteria in response to changes in their natural environment or environments created in the laboratory.  Students will build on past experimental results or create their own challenges to an isolated bacteria or natural samples.

Michael ReaganConstruction of New Genetic Circuits: We will be using the International Genetically Engineered Machine collection of standard biological parts to build new genetic circuits to study the feasibility of developing new molecular genetics labs. The ideal candidate will have some familiarity with molecular techniques and be able to work independently. A passion for scientific research is a must!!!

Kristina Timmerman – Wildlife studies on SJU campus.  This study will have two goals - first, I want to continue documenting wildlife use of the Arboretum via remote camera traps. We will be placing cameras in areas where we have documented mustelids (otters, mink, fisher, to name a few) in previous years. The goal is to obtain further information about their spatial use and to use this information to establish a mark-recapture program in future years. The second goal includes trapping and marking Painted turtles (Chrysemus picta) and documenting their use of lake shorelines. Applicants should enjoy tromping through the forest in all weather.

For more information, Kristina Timmerman ([email protected]; 2872) or Ashley Fink ([email protected]; 3176)

To apply please click here

Application period:  December 18, 2019 ― February 14, 2020