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.

Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology

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.

Eduardo Orias

Location:
2139 Bio II
(805) 893-3024

Research Project

Mating type (sex) determination (MTD) in the unicellular eukaryote, Tetrahymena pigmentosa, which has three mating types, had been thought to involve three alleles at the mat locus, which show hierarchical dominance in heterozygotes. The recent elucidation of the stochastic mechanism of MTD in a related species, Tetrahymena thermophila, makes the previous hypothesis of T. pigmentosa MTD untenable. Rather than hierarchical dominance, previous results are now best interpreted as a case of hierarchical, directed allele-specific DNA loss in the somatic nucleus of heterozygotes, i.e., an example of programmed gene editing. This project aims to experimentally test this new hypothesis.

Undergraduate Contribution

Using PCR amplification, the student will test for the presence of each allele of the mat locus in the somatic nucleus of T. pigmentosa heterozygotes that express only the “dominant” allele. As a control, exceptional progeny that express both mating types in the somatic nucleus will be shown, by a similar test, to possess both alleles. If these experiments give the predicted results, the student will next determine at what stage, after fertilization, the “loser” allele is lost from the somatic nucleus. This will be done by testing cell lines at defined intervals after fertilization. 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, 101B
Cumulative 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

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

Political Science

Julia Morse

Location:
Ellison 3805

Research Project

This project explores how international organizations affect domestic human rights policies and rhetoric.

Undergraduate Contribution

The researcher is expected to read and summarize reports by the UN Committee Against Torture on human rights violations committed by different governments, and to document each government's defense of its behavior. The student will help build a data set on this subject. Timely submission of work and the ability to summarize detailed reports are essential for this position. The student will meet with the principal investigator once a week.

Requirements

Political Science majors and an interest in international organizations or international law preferred. The interested student should submit a cover letter detailing his or her interest in the topic and a CV with GPA to Professor Morse.

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

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.

Requirements

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.

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.

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.).

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