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.

Feminist Studies

Laury Oaks

Location:
4706 South Hall

Research Project

I am working on a research study on Women’s Perspectives on and Experiences with Fertility Awareness Method/Natural Family Planning to how women in our society make sense of contraception in their lives and what experiences they have with fertility awareness. This is a comparative study exploring feminist, Catholic, and medical narratives about FAM/NFP.

Undergraduate Contribution

Tasks will include researching hard copy and online sources, organizing references, and tracking down a variety of materials.

Important: computer access, attention to detail, organizational skills, willingness to learn Zotero.

Requirements

Computer access, attention to detail, research ethics, organizational skills, and willingness to learn Zotero.

Prerequisite: upper-division status and completion of at least 1 Feminist Studies course.

Ecology Evolution and Marine Biology

Ryoko Oono

Location:
Noble 1116
893-5064

Research Project

There are hundreds of different species of fungi living inside healthy plant leaves. We are interested in understanding why and how fungal diversity and abundance change across environmental gradients. We currently have samples from various plant species from multiple locations on Santa Cruz Island to understand how different levels of fog and moisture has affected the fungal community within plants.

Undergraduate Contribution

Student will culture fungi and characterize the fungal community using molecular techniques. Student will learn phylogenetic tools to identify fungal species, compare community structures from different plants, and likely, discover new species! Student is encouraged to independently work and direct the research to fit their interests. Senior members of the lab will help oversee the activity, but ultimately, the student is free to take ownership of the project.

Requirements

Students planning to declare biology major with special interest in ecology and evolution are encouraged to apply. Student must be willing to do repetitive work (processing large numbers of samples), be detail-oriented, have good organization skills and dexterity (pipetting, tweezer work, etc.).

Stephen Proulx

Location:
LSB 4109

Research Project

Ongoing research in our lab uses the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to study experimental evolution of gene networks and genetic interactions. Our goal is to use this microbe as a window to understand how genetic interactions evolve. We are currently following the evolution of sporulation and mating because these "behaviors" have an important effect on the population structure and the opportunity for adaptive evolution in nature. The experimental procedures that we use range from genetic manipulation of yeast to create designer strains, genotyping of strains by PCR, and a variety of microbiological techniques to manipulate the life-cycle and mating of yeast. Undergraduates working on these projects should expect to gain proficiency in a range of lab techniques and apply them on a regular basis.

Undergraduate Contribution

All students working in the lab contribute to the general maintenance of the lab, including pouring agar plates and mixing media. Students will start out learning specific lab techniques for culturing and manipulating yeast, and then move onto a specific project. These projects typically involve a combination of yeast culturing, genetic crossing, phenotyping, and PCR genotyping. Students are expected to devote several consecutive hours on days that they work in the lab. There is also a 1-hour weekly lab meeting that students attend and, from time to time, present their results.

Requirements

An interest in expanding your own understanding of the evolutionary basis of the biological world, a desire to discuss scientific hypotheses, ability to focus on a single problem, attention to detail, and a great attitude in a team environment.

Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology

Eduardo Orias

Location:
Biology II 2139
(805) 893-3024

Research Project

The project aims to increase our understanding of the developmentally-programmed gene editing mechanism involved in mating type determination in the 7-sexed (mating types) model unicellular eukaryote, Tetrahymena thermophila. Our previous work showed that during differentiation of the expressed somatic nucleus, one randomly selected mating type gene pair is completely assembled by site-specific joining of noncontiguous germline DNA segments, while the rest are excised as DNA circles. We wish to understand how the process is organized.

Undergraduate Contribution

The student will do time course experiments concentrated the period when the somatic nucleus is differentiating. At each sampling time, the DNA of completed gene pairs will be detected by long range PCR amplification. The specificity of completed gene pairs will be detected by treating the amplified DNA with discriminating restriction enzymes. The timing of appearance of various circular excision products will be distinguished by using pairs of PCR primers specific for each type of circle. Every quarter the student will present a quarterly progress report to my research group in the form of an oral, PowerPoint-illustrated presentation at one of our weekly lab meetings. The student will also present his/her work at the yearly UCSB Undergraduate Research Colloquium.

Requirements

Course: MCDB 101A

GPA: At least 3.0

Skills: Word-processing, spread sheets, PowerPoint, calculating dilutions

Availability: at least 15 hr per week, including some 3-4-hr blocks of time

Location:
Biology II 2139
(805) 893-3024

Research Project

This project aims to understand the mechanism of one type of massive, developmentally-programmed genome editing in the model unicellular eukaryote, Tetrahymena thermophila. During differentiation of the somatic nucleus, the 5 chromosomes inherited from the germline nucleus are fragmented into ~200 “minichromosomes” by cutting at a 15-bp “chromosome breakage sequence” (Cbs). We aim to identify the endonuclease that cuts the Cbs and the molecule (RNA or protein) that guides it to the Cbs.

Undergraduate Contribution

A lethal mutation at position 4 of Cbs 1L-16 is known to create a restriction site absent from the wild type Cbs. Viable revertants occur at low frequency (~1 in 10E-5 progeny). The student will screen such revertants to find those in which the mutation occurred at some other gene (such as the desired Cbs endonuclease gene) which now allows cutting the mutant Cbs. The work will involve screening viable mutants of independent origin to identify those in which the Cbs retains the mutant restriction site. The student will design appropriate PCR primers, PCR-amplify the Cbs region, perform gel electrophoresis and validate PCR product by cloning and sequencing. Every quarter the student will present a quarterly progress report to my research group as an oral, PowerPoint-illustrated presentation at one of our weekly lab meetings. The student will also present his/her work at the yearly UCSB Undergraduate Research Colloquium.

Requirements

Course: MCDB 101A

GPA: At least 3.0 Skills:

Word-processing, spread sheets, PowerPoint, calculating dilutions

Availability: at least 15 hr per week, including some 3-4-hr blocks of time

Asian American Studies

John Park

Location:
5040 HSSB
x8573

Research Project

Coming Into an Awareness.  This project examines how young people come into an awareness of their legal status, often in cases where this status is a legal disability or liability within the United States.  The project examines slave children and the children of fugitive slaves, Chinese Americans whose parents were illegal immigrants, Japanese Americans during World War II, and undocumented students in contemporary law and society.  

Undergraduate Contribution

Students interested in archival legal history would be especially interested in this project, as well as students in ethnic studies, sociology, and other related fields.  

Requirements

Upper division standing.

English

Sowon Park

Location:
South Hall 2917
(805) 893-4148

Research Project

Unconscious memory

This project will bring the intensively researched area of human memory in neuroscience (and, within this, the field of unconscious memory) together with the rich elaborations of the unconscious in the world literary archive and with new cognitive models emerging from the accelerating field of artificial intelligence.

Undergraduate Contribution

You will be working with scholars working at the frontier of knowledge on the human mind from all around the world and have the opportunity to contribute to a developing program at UCSB.

Requirements

Good written communication skills, excellent judgment, punctuality, computer skills and intellectual curiosity.

Preferred but not essential: Mind, Brain and Literature (Eng 170)

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Stanley Parsons

Location:
Chem 1126B
893-2252

Research Project

My group is studying storage of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) by synaptic vesicles, which are hollow storage organelles located in nerve terminals. Refilling of vesicles emptied by neurotransmission is mediated by a transporter called the vesicular ACh transporter (VAChT). VAChT resides in the vesicular membrane and exchanges one ACh molecule from cytoplasm for two vesicular protons that are supplied by a separate proton pump. We currently are characterizing the amino acid residues involved in proton and ACh translocation in the PC12 mammalian cell line. We also are attempting an expression strategy in E. coli to see if a functional VAChT construct can be obtained. Such an accomplishment would allow preparation of abundant low-cost protein needed for crystallization and X-ray diffraction of VAChT.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates would focus on cloning procedures to create the recombinant DNA required for bacterial expression of human VAChT. Expression of the recombinant DNA constructs, purification of the expressed VAChTs, and characterization of the folded state of VAChT through the binding of the potent inhibitor, vesamicol, would be expected. This was demonstrated recently for a closely related protein. If expressed VAChT is found to bind vesamicol, reconstitution into protein-lipid vesicles will be attempted to asses transport efficiency.

Requirements

Undergraduates must have completed the following courses:

  • Chem 109 A/B/C with a A- or higher.
  • Chem 142 A/B/C with a A- or higher.
  • Chem 110L with a A- or higher.
  • Chem 125L with a A- or higher.

Environmental Studies

David Pellow

Location:
4304 Bren Hall
(619) 488-7838

Research Project

**Not taking on new research assistants until Spring 2017**
This project involves the study of the links among the U.S. prison system, impacts on local/regional/national/global ecosystems, impacts on communities of color and working class communities where prisons are located and where the majority of prisoners are from, and their implications for social and environmental justice movements. Specifically, we are interested in asking what are the effects of prison construction and maintenance on public and environmental health and what can be done to address these problems? This project aims to provide data and collaborative opportunities to people interested in ending mass incarceration and promoting environmental justice.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate members of the research collective will be expected to conduct targeted internet searches to find a wide range of sources on the topic, write up annotated bibliographies, and compile lists of organizations and individuals working on these issues.

Requirements

Requirements are: 1) personal access to a computer and the internet; 2) facility with MS Word including how to cut and paste from the web; 3) attention to detail; 4) the ability to follow directions. It is also a helpful if you are willing to learn Zotero or other digital filing or bibliographical database system. 

Earth Science

Susannah Porter

Location:
Webb 1117
805-893-8954

Research Project

Studies of animal and protistan microfossils with the goal of understanding the evolution and ecology of early life (ca. 500 to 1000 million years ago).

Undergraduate Contribution

Student will assist with sample preparation and processing, including acid dissolution of rocks and microfossil picking, and light and/or scanning electron microscopy.

Requirements

B+ or better in Earth 111.

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