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.

Geography

Leila Carvalho

Location:
6808
805-893-7351

Research Project

Approximately 30-50 km above the earth surface in the stratosphere lies an atmospheric layer rich in ozone (O3). Ozone can be toxic to life and damaging to materials but high in the atmosphere it serves to shelter life on the Earth’s surface from powerful lethal ultraviolet radiation. Without the ozone layer to absorb ultraviolet it would be virtually possible for life to inhabit Earth's land areas. Ozone is constantly being formed and destroyed by chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere and the balance between formation and destruction determines the concentration of the molecule. Clorofluoercarbons (CFCs) produced by human activity are very effective in destroying the ozone layer. However, water vapor in the stratosphere can also affect the concentration of ozone and the temperature of the stratosphere. There is evidence that global warming has affected atmospheric instability and the intensity of the thunderstorms in many regions in our planet. Subtropical South America is among the areas with the largest frequency of powerful thunderstorms in the world that are able to reach the lower stratosphere. The goal of this research is to evaluate the role of deep thunderstorms in modifying the content of water vapor and concentration of ozone in the lower stratosphere over subtropical South America. We will use multiple satellite Aqua’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) V6 level 3 standard retrieval data (from 2002 to 2016) to investigate the influence of deep convective clouds in this region and examine the contributions of these storms to changes in the upper tropopause-lower stratosphere ozone with focus on the Austral spring and summer.

Undergraduate Contribution

Students will work on satellite data processing and analysis. She/he will learn how to download satellite data used in these analyses and do simple statistics. The student will work along with the instructor and the graduate student working on this project. Students are expected to have periodic meetings with the instructor and the graduate student and will be encouraged to discuss results in local conferences.

Requirements

We expect interest in physical sciences in general and atmospheric sciences and basic statistics in particular. We also expect that the student knows how to use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, create simple graphics and perform basic statistical analyses. The use of other programming languages to perform calculations, produce graphics and statistics is optional.

Location:
Ellison Hall 6808
805-893-7531

Research Project

Offshore gusty downslope winds accompanied by rapid warming and decreased relative humidity are considered among the most significant fire weather conditions affecting coastal areas of Santa Barbara County. These downslope winds are locally known as “sundowner winds” or “sundowners”, because they typically intensify in late afternoon to early morning, contrasting with the more typical onshore flow. These strong northerly winds are observed when atmospheric sea level pressure increases north of the Santa Ynez Mountains, which has a distinctive east-west orientation. Sundowners are a major concern during wildfire season because air heats and dries as it descends from the mountains to the sea level, increasing the chance of rapid fire spread in an event of a fire. Such conditions have affected the evolution all major wildfires in the area as, for instance, the Painted Cave (1990), the Tea House (2008), the Jesusita (2009), the Sherpa (2016), which are some examples of events responsible for loss of life, injuries, millions of dollars in property loss, and significant environmental impacts. This research will explore all available station and regional model data to evaluate a) the frequency and intensity of these events; b) the ability of the Weather Research & Forecast (WRF) model to simulate the magnitude and intensity of these events; c) examine local impacts on evapotranspiration and net radiation and other properties that are important to assess drought conditions.

Undergraduate Contribution

Students will examine wind gusts, temperature and relative humidity (when available) obtained from stations and model simulations during the occurrence of sundowner events. Students will be exposed to instrumental analysis and will be trained on simple statistical methods.

Requirements

Interest in atmospheric sciences and meteorology. Knowledge of Microsoft Excel and/or programming language (such as matlab, IDL, python or any other) to perform simple statistics and create graphics.

Elizabeth Chrastil

Location:
Ellison 5806
805-880-2566

Research Project

The project involves understanding how people navigate in new environments. We will build immersive virtual environments, and test participants in their knowledge of these environments. The lab is particularly interested in individual differences, why some people can navigate easily while others struggle. Some projects in the lab also involve neuroimaging data, such as fMRI and EEG.

Undergraduate Contribution

Students will assist in designing virtual environments and computer programming to run the virtual worlds. Students will assist in data collection and the organization and coding of data.

Requirements

GPA of 3.0 or above is preferred, with a strong background in human geography or cognitive psychology. Previous experience with programming (especially Matlab and Python) is preferred but not required. Students should be excited about spatial cognition or neuroscience. This is an excellent opportunity to gain more research experience in this area.

Vena Chu

Location:
Ellison 4818
(805) 893-2833

Research Project

www.venachu.comThe Greenland Ice Sheet is experiencing enhanced warming, which has increased surface melting and mass loss to the ocean. Future projections show that Greenland will be a source of significant contributions to global sea level rise. Meltwater on the surface of the ice sheet collects in supraglacial streams that are abundant each summer, transporting large volumes of meltwater into moulins (sinkholes) and to the ice edge, yet these streams remain poorly studied. This project aims to constrain the pathways of these rivers and the amount and timing of meltwater leaving the ice sheet surface.

Undergraduate Contribution

Students will analyze and process satellite imagery to map supraglacial rivers and moulins (river termination points). Students will use these data as well as digital elevation models to analyze morphology of rivers.

Requirements

An interest in learning and motivation for independent research. Data management and computer skills are necessary for handling satellite data. Preferred qualifications include training in basic GIS and/or remote sensing.

Qinghua Ding

Location:
Ellison Hall 6806

Research Project

Over the last decade, statistically significant warming has been noted across the Arctic and West Antarctic. Studies that have investigated the mechanisms associated with the warming all agree that changes in the regional atmospheric circulation are at least a consistent if not a causal mechanism.The project aims to understand the atmospheric circulation changes consistent with, and perhaps causing, the ongoing warming trends across the polar regions, which are some of the strongest warming trends on Earth. This improved understanding has the capacity to further our knowledge about ongoing ice sheet loss in West Antarctica and Greenland and the resultant sea level rise, and is therefore of global significance.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate student will conduct the statistical analyses to interpret changes in some surface temperature modes analyses (either in frequency, magnitude, or progression between them over time), and the connection that the modes have with large-scale climate in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres and sea ice across the Arctic and Antarctic. This project will provide valuable education and training opportunities for a part-time undergraduate to become familiar with the reanalysis and model data and gain experience with the techniques to handle large climate data sets. Students will learn “Big Data” skills in processing large volumes of model output and learn data processing system based on Python, Matlab and Grads.

Requirements

Useful skills that are helpful would be previous experience with computers and programming (e.g., C, C++, Matlab, Python, Fortran). Everything else can be learned.

Charles Jones

Location:
Ellison Hall 6810
(805) 893-5824

Research Project

Two research projects are available for undergraduate students.

1) Climate change in South America The monsoon in South America is the main climatic feature in the continent with significant influence in the distribution of precipitation and temperature. This project use a regional climate model to understand how warming in the continent has affected the variability of the monsoon in South America. The low-level jet on the eastern slopes of the Andes plays a crucial role in transporting moisture and generating storms and precipitation. The regional model is being used to understand how climate change is affecting the dynamics of the low-level jet

2) Regional model simulations in southern California A regional model is being used to simulate several types of weather phenomena in the Santa Barbara such as the marine layer, fog and Sundowner winds. Simulations with the regional model need to be validated against observations from meteorological stations and moored buoys in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Undergraduate Contribution

In both projects students will download data from the internet, perform quality control checks and format the data for comparison with model simulations. Student will additionally perform statistical analyses to quantify model errors.

Requirements

Motivation and desire to learn are the first requirements. Programming skills are needed. Computer and programming skills are needed. Computer experience is necessary especially with programming (e.g., fortran, matlab, python or IDL).

Location:
6810 Ellison Hall

Research Project

Research project includes analysis of extreme precipitation events in the Santa Barbara area and how they impact the hydrological cycle and landscape. We are interested in students to help in preparing and analyzing time series of precipitation from local stations.

Undergraduate Contribution

Downloading and preparing time series of precipitation from several rain gauges.

Requirements

Computer skills is needed especially knowledge of spread sheet software (e.g., MS Excel). Knowledge of programming (e.g., fortran, matlab, IDL) is highly desired.

Jennifer King

Location:
5812 Ellison Hall

Research Project

The King Laboratory for Biogeochemical Research in the Department of Geography is seeking an undergraduate student to assist with field and laboratory work for a project focused on evaluating greenhouse gas emissions and soil properties at the North Campus Open Space Restoration Site. The project focuses on evaluating greenhouse gas exchange and ecosystem carbon cycling at the North Campus Open Space (previously the Ocean Meadows Golf Course), which is undergoing restoration to natural wetland areas.

Undergraduate Contribution

The contribution of an undergraduate student on this project will be to assist with gas flux measurements in the field and analyses in the laboratory, as well as soil sampling and analysis, and data entry and management. The student will also contribute to other research group activities, including laboratory work and weekly research group meetings. This project provides an opportunity for students to gain field and laboratory experience in biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology in a research setting.

Requirements

Successful upper division students majoring in Geography, Environmental Studies, EEMB, Earth Science, and related departments may apply. Preferred qualifications include field or laboratory experience, time availability for field work, and interests and coursework in biogeochemistry, ecosystem processes, and related topics. We are seeking students for the 2017-2018 academic year, with possibility to continue during summer. The commitment is 12 hours per week on average. This time commitment translates to enrollment in 4 units of Geog 199 RA or a similar course. To apply, please prepare a resume and cover letter describing your skills and your reason for applying. Email these to Professor King (jyking@geog.ucsb.edu).

Werner Kuhn

Location:
Ellison 5707

Research Project

The spatial center engages in making spatial data and computing more accessible and usable. We have several research projects, documented on the web site, exploring ideas to simplify access to and use of tools like Geographic Information Systems. 

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates with either a strong interest in a particular application domain of spatial computing (across the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts) or with particular skills in relevant computer languages (Python, Haskell, JavaScript, others), or both, are welcome to join a dynamic team of undergraduate, graduate, and post doctoral researchers. 

Requirements

The ability to acquire knowledge independently from articles, books, and online resources, as well as the willingness to experiment with new ideas and apply them to interesting domain problems (health, energy, sustainability, food, climate, etc.) are essential. Good abstraction skills and courage to learn new tools and techniques are desirable. Previous GIS course work is useful, but not a prerequisite. 

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.

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