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.

Ecology Evolution and Marine Biology

Holly Moeller

Location:
1120 Noble Hall
(805) 893-3216

Research Project

The Moeller Lab uses mathematical models, laboratory experiments, and field observations to explore community ecology. Our goal is to understand how interactions between different species shape the structure and function of the ecosystems that sustain life on Planet Earth. A current line of research in the lab involves developing mathematical models of acquired metabolism. Normally, we think of metabolism as something hard-wired in an organism, encoded within its DNA. But many species acquire access to other forms of metabolism within their lifetimes, through interactions with other species. This project develops and analyzes mathematical models of this process, connecting the mechanisms of species interactions with their impact on populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates involved in this project will contribute in multiple ways. They will serve as model developers, using their biological intuition and literature research to formulate mathematical equations representing study systems of interest. Study systems include, but are not limited to, plant-microbe mutualisms, chloroplast-stealing plankton, and coral-algal symbioses. Students will learn and use analytical skills (to compute model equilibria), programming skills (to simulate differential equations), and numerical skills (to analyze model outputs).

Requirements

Students should have familiarity with calculus and, ideally, linear algebra. Enthusiasm for biological problem-solving, and a desire to seek commonalities across superficially disparate systems is preferred. Students should be collaborative, tenacious, and creative. Some programming skills (the lab uses MATLAB and R for most of its work) would be helpful, but are not a requirement.

Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology

Craig Montell

Location:
LSB 2109
805-893-3634

Research Project

A central question in neurobiology is how animal behavior and decision making is controlled by the environment. Using molecular genetic, electrophysiological, biochemical and cell biological approaches in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Our laboratory is defining the receptors and ion channels that sense the outside world, and impact on decisions ranging from food selection to choosing the ideal thermal landscape, mate selection and others. One of the key sensory receptors that we are characterizing are TRP channels, which in one animal or another responds to virtually all types of sensory inputs and impacts on a wide range of behaviors. We are also deciphering polymodal sensory roles of rhodopsins, gustatory receptors and ionotropic receptors, and defining the behaviors that they control.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates will typically work with a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. Students will learn a variety of modern lab techniques including animal behavior, genetics, molecular cloning, immuno-histochemistry, confocal microscopy. The undergraduates will be carefully trained on how to design, perform, troubleshoot and interpret experiments.

Requirements

Undergraduates should be sophomores or above and have a 3.3 or above overall GPA. Students should commit a minimum of 10 hours per week for one year. Students with a background in genetics and lab experiences are preferred.

Denise Montell

Location:
3127 Bio II
893-3633

Research Project

We study how cells build and maintain normal adult tissues, which includes matintenance of stem cells, patterning the fates of stem cell daughters, epithelial morphogenesis and motility and how cells make life and death decisions. We use state-of-the-art microscopy and imaging, genetics and molecular and cell biology. We study the Drosophila ovary and mammalian tissue culture cells. We collaborate with laboratories around the world with expertise in mathematics, engineering, tissue engineering, mouse genetics, etc.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates can contribute by working one-on-one with a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. Students will learn a variety of techniques in modern biomedical science such as molecular cloning, antibody staining, confocal microscopy, genetics, and tissue culture. Undergraduates will participate in all aspects of the project including experimental design, technical execution, trouble shooting, interpretation of results and formulating next steps.

Requirements

Undergraduate students should be sophomores or above and should have a 3.5 overall GPA and 3.5 science GPA as well as some laboratory experience. Students should be able to commit to at least 10 hours per week for one year. Summer participation is encouraged. A strong foundation in basic principles of biology is necessary. Prior or concurrent coursework in cell biology and genetics is a plus.

Daniel Morse

Location:
3155, Marine Biote
805-893-3157

Research Project

Biophotonics: Join an exciting interdisciplinary project at the frontiers of biology, chemistry, physics and materials engineering, focused on discovery of the underlying mechanisms by which living organisms harness light for camouflage, communication and energy in the underwater world, and translation of these mechanisms for advances in new materials and breakthrough technologies. We're discovering how specific genes and proteins in marine molluscs ranging from squids to giant clams produce nanostructures that control the wavelength (color) and intensity of light they reflect for stealth, signaling and enhanced photosynthesis, and working with colleagues in local industry to translate these findings for practical advances in new photonic and infrared technologies. Opportunities to participate at each of these levels, from the DNA and protein levels, analyses of the biomolecular nanostructures, optical and photonic analyses, and development and characterization of new materials and photonic, IR and photovoltaic devices. Undergraduates who have participated in this project previously have benefitted from the individualized mentoring provided, and gone on to advanced studies in some of the best graduate programs in the country, and to rewarding careers in research and industry.

Undergraduate Contribution

Opportunities to participate at each of these levels, from the DNA and protein levels, analyses of the biomolecular nanostructures, optical and photonic analyses, and development and characterization of new materials and photonic, IR and photovoltaic devices. Undergraduates who have participated in this project previously have benefitted from the individualized mentoring provided, and gone on to advanced studies in some of the best graduate programs in the country, and to rewarding careers in research and industry.

Requirements

(1) Passionate curiosity about the still unknown molecular, cellular, energetic and physical mechanisms of life and its evolution, its adaptations to light and to life in the oceans, and/or a deep interest in learning from the unique advantages evolved by living systems to guide the development of new routes to advanced materials and technologies; (2) Sufficient time for research as described above (minimum of ca. 20 hrs/week; 2 or more consecutive quarters); (3) academic focus and sufficient preparation in some area congruent with this research (in either biology, biochem., physics, chemistry, materials, energy, engineering, etc.; some demonstration of appropriate skill or prior experience; strong GPA.

Religious Studies

Kathleen Moore

Location:
3044 HSSB
(805) 893-3564

Research Project

This project explores the public representations of shari'a in the United States.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate researcher will perform a systematic search of reporting on "shari'a-related" discussions across a set of news organizations and publications, in various traditional and new social media, along assigned parameters. The researcher will also search and identify discussions of shari'a "in the west" in scholarly publications. Much of this is online research, but visits to Davidson Library to do research in Special Collections will also be required. The researcher will update a database being designed for this project, and will meet with the professor once a week.

Requirements

Must be proficient working in Google Docs and using Excel spreadsheets. Religious Studies, History, Communication, Film and Media Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, and Global Studies majors are preferred. The student must sign up for an Independent Study course for 4 units.

Location:
3044 HSSB
(805) 893-3564

Research Project

This project explores the personal meanings of shari'a for Muslims in California. It is a qualitative analysis of a set of interviews. For information on the project, see www.shariarevoiced.org

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate researcher will perform a qualitative data analysis of 104 interviews with NVivo for Mac. The interviews are already coded, so the researcher will run Queries, save them and create Nodes from Query results. The researcher will meet with the professor once a week.

Requirements

Must be proficient with NVivo for Mac. Religious Studies, Computer Science, Communication, Film and Media Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, and Global Studies majors are preferred. The student must sign up for an Independent Study course for 2-4 units.

Geography

Alan Murray

Location:
Ellison Hall 5718
(805) 893-3663

Research Project

Our research group is applying statistics, mathematics, operations research, GIS and computer programming to problems associated with outdoor lighting sustainability, service access and emergency response. Planning and decision making involving systems at UCSB, Goleta, Santa Barbara, California as well as outside the state are possible.

Undergraduate Contribution

Those with interests planning problems and policy implications where GIS, statistics, mathematics and/or programming are involved will have the opportunity to join ongoing research teams involving undergraduates and graduate students to study and contribute to important issues with significant long term implications.

Requirements

Basic skills in some combination of GIS, statistics, operations research and/or programming (Python, R, C++, Fortran, etc.). Previous experience with GIS useful, but not essential.

Nick Nidzieko

Location:
Ellison 5830

Research Project

The measurements collected by autonomous underwater vehicles are susceptible to contamination by surface waves, as the inertial response of the vehicle is different from the wave orbital velocities causing those motions. While this poses a problem for some fine-scale measurements, it also presents an opportunity to use data from the vehicle's accelerometers to estimate surface wave statistics (e.g. wave height, direction, and period). In this project, we will analyze existing data sets from previous AUV missions in a range of environments to derive a model (algorithm) for predicting wave parameters from vehicle state sensors. This model will then be tested over several missions in local waters.

Undergraduate Contribution

The student will compile and analyze the accelerometer data from the existing AUV missions, as well as locating, compiling, and analyzing wave data from publicly available sources (e.g. NDBC/NOAA) and instruments deployed concurrently with some AUV missions. The student will then plan and assist in conducting missions to validate the wave model. Results will be written up and submitted to a journal, with the expectation that the student will be the lead author of the publication.

Requirements

Strong computational background, with an interest in learning and/or applying spectral analysis methods to study ocean surface wave phenomena.

English

Christopher Newfield

Location:
South Hall 2517

Research Project

The project is a review of economists' descriptions of the pecuniary/nonpecuniary and external benefits of higher education as they appear in the journal Economics of Education Review between 1981 and 2018. As part of a larger investigation, The Limits of the Numerical: Metrics and the Humanities in Higher Education, this study will contribute to the research team's understanding of how going to college is different valued by humanists, economists, and policymakers.

Undergraduate Contribution

The student will read articles published between 1981 and 2018 in the journal, Economics of Education Review, code them for the benefits and returns they consider, and write summaries of them. The student will perform this work in collaboration with a graduate student assistant. The student will then participate in the team’s collaborative analysis of the coding data and in writing up the results for publication in a book chapter and/or academic article. They will attend regular team meetings each week. In addition, the student may transcribe interviews conducted by the project team, participate in the development of a coding system and analytical framework for the interview data, and occasionally assist the team with clerical and logistical work (like making PDFs).

Requirements

Excellence in reading and summarizing academic journal articles in writing, ability to work well with a collaborator and team, reliable, detail-oriented, some course background in the cultural study of quantification, ability to work with sensitive/confidential human subjects data.

Marine Science Institute

Nick Nidzieko

Location:
5830 Ellison Hall

Research Project

The Coastal Oceanography & Autonomous SysTems (COAST) Lab is focused on improving the capabilities of autonomous platforms in marine environments. At present, we are developing a launch and recovery vessel (LARV) for a mid-sized autonomous underwater vehicle.

Undergraduate Contribution

Working with a team, the student will design and test a scale model of the LARV. Elements of this process include CAD modeling, 3D printing, electrical engineering, and code development. Highly motivated students will have the opportunity to explore the one or more of these areas.

Requirements

Prior experience in the above list of contributions is not necessary, but desirable. The most important aspect is that students are highly motivated, and capable of working independently and with a team as required. Due to security restrictions, students must be US citizens.

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