Faculty Research Assistance Program (FRAP) Directory

The FRAP Directory allows students to identify UCSB faculty who are looking for undergraduate students to participate in their research projects or creative activities. Please use the links below to find opportunities by discipline. Students, if your desired discipline is not listed, please contact the Undergraduate Research Initiatives office at 805-893-3090 or urca@ltsc.ucsb.edu for assistance. Faculty, if you would like to post your research or creative activity opportunity, please complete the online submission form.


Nick Nidzieko

Ellison 5830

Research Project

This project aims to develop a GIS-based catalog of all published estimates of ecosystem-level primary productivity, accompanied by metadata reported within those studies, including: sampling methods, environmental conditions (such as river flow or nutrient loading), and physical parameters (estuary depth, tide range, etc.).

Why? Coastal margins host some of the most productive habitats on the planet, yet there is still significant uncertainty about the magnitude of carbon fluxes across the land/ocean interface. Recent work from my lab (http://www.pnas.org/content/115/26/6733) has described emergent patterns in biogeochemical cycling across seemingly heterogenous coastal ecosystems--work relied on a literature survey of published rate estimates. To understand the mechanics of these patterns, a more thorough analysis of these published values is required.

Undergraduate Contribution

Students working on this project will be engaged primarily in one of two tasks:

1) conducting a "treasure hunt" through old literature, in order to catalog the details of these original studies
2) building a GIS database to record these details
Students will be expected to collaborate across tasks. This work builds on prior student contributions towards this project.


You must be highly motivated and capable of both independent study and collaborative work. A strong understanding of biological and marine processes is essential for the first topic area; expertise in GIS is essential for the second topic area. Some proficiency in the other topic area is desired.

Libe Washburn

4306 MSRB

Research Project

In this project we are studying the coastal ocean using robotic vehicles. These vehicles use new, low-cost technologies for guidance, positioning, and other operations required for making measurements in the coastal ocean. For example, we use robotic quadrotor drones for multiple purposes including: (1) calibration of radar systems that we use to measure ocean surface currents; (2) collection of water samples for ocean acidification studies. Another example is a robotic boat for measuring ocean currents and surface water properties. A team of undergraduate mechanical engineering students built a prototype during two years ago. Since then we have been conducting sea trials to learn more about its performance in a range of ocean conditions. We will continue development of the boat and its sea trials in the coming year.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates work on a variety of design and development efforts related to these projects. For example, students are improving the design of quad-rotor drones for use over the coastal ocean. Other ongoing efforts are to develop new payloads for the quad-rotors and the robotic boat. Undergraduate students have worked on a lightweight sampling bottle to be carried by quad-rotor drones that can be tripped automatically to collect water samples. Undergraduates also participate in a broad range of activities for making measurements in the coastal ocean. Undergraduates currently working in the lab are mechanical engineering students, but students from other majors are welcome. Students perform "hands-on" work for various projects and have opportunities to learn new technologies. A particular focus of the lab has been the use of 3-D printing for fabricating parts used in many of our development efforts.


1. The main requirement is the desire to learn new things and participate in creative design and development projects.
2. Experience with robotics technology is desirable, but not essential.
3. The ability to work and learn both independently and in small groups is important.
4. Experience with programs such as MATLAB and Solid Works is desirable, but not essential.
5. Some experience using hand tools is important.