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

Douglas Thrower

Location:
LSB 2318
893-5964

Research Project

Microtubules are components of the internal skeleton of eukaryotic cells. Because of their role in cell division and cell migration, microtubules are targeted a number of anti-cancer drugs. Although most of these drugs suppress the growing and shortening "dynamic instability" behavior of microtubules, their exact mechanisms of action are currently unknown. Our goal is to measure the ability of different microtubule-targeted drugs to alter the structure of microtubules both in living cells and in a cell-free system. Such structural alterations are believed to regulate the dynamics of microtubules.

Undergraduate Contribution

Previous undergraduates have helped to develop an immunofluorescent assay that has made it possible to use a conformation-specific antibody to probe the structure of microtubules. Other undergrads have maintained stocks of growing monkey and human cells and have carried out preliminary studies of the effects of several different drugs on the structure of microtubules in living cells. The latter includes dosing cells with appropriate concentrations of drugs, treatment of cells with antibody-based fluorescent probes, imaging cells on a confocal microscope, and measurement/analysis of microscopic images. Current efforts by an undergraduate student under supervision of a graduate student are aimed at developing a cell free assay to determine the requirement for additional proteins in drug-induced changes in microtubule structure.

Requirements

Undergraduate participants in this study are expected to have completed introductory biology courses, MCDB 1A, 1B, 1AL, 1BL, and EEMB 2. Students should have basic laboratory skills including making dilutions, preparing laboratory reagents, use of serological and micropipetting devices "pipetmen". Previous experience with light microscopy is desirable but not essential.

Thomas Weimbs

Location:
United States

Research Project

A major focus of this laboratory is the investigation of molecular mechanisms underlying polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and related renal diseases. Research in the Weimbs Laboratory has already led to a better understanding of aberrantly regulated signaling mechanisms in PKD and suggested possile new strategies for disease treatment. The Laboratory is aiming to discover new basic mechanisms of epithelial cell function and kidney physiology. The training of future scientists at the postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate level is another important mission of the Weimbs Laboratory.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergrad research positions are for volunteers who are highly motivated and committed to learn experimental techniques, become intellectually highly involved and ultimately are able to help a senior member of the lab with their experiments, or even carry on research projects independently. In the beginning, it is more of a burden for a senior lab member to teach the undergrad student. But if a student is very good he/she can become a valuable member of the team and contribute to our research progress. Someone who is highly motivated should be able to come to the lab in between and after their classwork or on weekends for at least about 10 hours/week. The person should be very strong academically so that the lab work does not negatively impact the class work performance. A talented and motivated student should be able to quickly learn experimental techniques and start to do experiments with less and less supervision until they can be done, for the most part, independently. Undergraduate researchers typically want to go on to graduate school after graduation. An excellent letter of reference commenting on their outstanding undergrad research activity is invaluable for admission into a competitive graduate program. Such undergrad research experience is expected by graduate admission committees at all top tier universities. There are several summer research fellowships available to undergraduate students. Successful undergrad researchers in the Weimbs lab are strongly encouraged to apply for these fellowships and will then be invited to spend the summer doing full-time research in the lab.

Requirements

Email your CV and unofficial transcript to weimbs@lifesci.ucsb.edu. Please state why you are interested to work in the Weimbs lab.

Ecology Evolution and Marine Biology

Thomas Turner

Location:
Noble Hall 2128

Research Project

The Evolutionary Genomics Laboratory, headed by Dr. Thomas Turner, periodically has opportunities for undergraduate assistants to help with large-scale collaborative experiments. The Turner lab studies genome evolution and the links between DNA and behavior using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

The specific project most assistants work on is focused on determining the genetic basis of variation in male courtship song. This is an entirely lab-based experiment, working exclusively with fruit flies. The majority of assistance will be needed during normal working hours, but some work may occasionally be needed on the weekend.

Ideally, we are looking for individuals with a lighter class schedule who can commit to several consecutive hours of work on busy days. Priority will be given to students who can commit a considerable chunk of time to research and those who can commit to work on the project throughout the summer and into the following academic year.

Please be aware that these are unpaid positions, but they provide a great opportunity for anyone wanting lab and research experience. Volunteers will participate in lab meetings, read and discuss papers with the PI, and develop a broad understanding ofthe research in the lab.

Undergraduate Contribution

Primarily data collection, but students are intellectually engaged in reading literature and discussing ongoing data analysis.

Requirements

Works well with others, great focus and attention to detail, independent critical thinking skills, educational background in general biology, and a positive attitude!

Sociology

France Winddance Twine

Location:
3320 Social Sciences & Media Studies Building
893-3118

Research Project

How do 'geek girls' negotiate masculinity and gender inequality in the male dominated tech industry? Interviews with 65 female and male tech workers employed in the San Francisco industry have been completed. This qualitative study draws upon life history interviews, participate observation at two Tech Inclusion conferences, and an analysis of tech industry reports, to provide an intersectional analysis of the ways that race, gender and sexuality shape the experiences of tech workers. This research will be published in a book that is under contract with Cambridge University Press.

Undergraduate Contribution

This research could benefit from the assistance of a disciplined and organized undergraduate research assistant, interested in sociology of work, technology industry and gender inequality, who is willing to do: 1) library database searches for journal articles, books, and related digital and print materials, 2) Transcribe interviews, and/or 3) identify and locate documentary films and YouTube videos that depict the challenges and experiences of female tech workers.

Requirements

Students must be a Sociology major or a Feminist Studies major. They must have earned a B+ in at least 4 upper division courses. Students must have completed SOC 1, SOC 99, and one of the following SOC 108A, 108B, 108C or 108 F. Students must provide a letter of recommendation from a faculty member or graduate student instructor in the Sociology Department, who is familiar with their work.

Anthropology

Amber VanDerwarker

Location:
HSSB 1038
893-8604

Research Project

This project seeks to understand how chronic and intensified warfare affected peoples’ abilities to produce enough food to feed themselves and their communities. The region of interest is the Central Illinois River Valley during the 12th century, a period intensive warfare and raiding throughout ancient North America. One of the sites that the project is currently examining was once a large, fortified village (Orendorf Site) that was repeatedly burned to the ground by violent aggressors. The site was excavated in the 1970s, and we will be processing and analyzing the food remains recovered from one of these burned occupations. There are assemblages from additional sites in this region as well, for which plant and animal bone assemblages require identification and analysis.

Undergraduate Contribution

Through participation in this project students may develop many archaeological lab skills including:

  • how to use a flotation system to recover macrobotanicals and small faunal remains
  • how to recognize both faunal and floral remains
  • taking metric measurements of carbonized plant remains via specialized computer/microscope software accessioning modern specimens in the comparative collection
  • sorting small archaeological fauna from flotation samples by taxonomic class (fish, mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile).

Requirements

You may enroll in ANTH 194P for 1-4 units. For each unit of credit you must work three hours per week, or a total of 30 hours per quarter (ten weeks long). The lab is generally open 9am-5pm Mon-Wed, and Friday mornings. Scheduling of lab time within these hours is flexible. There is no course work requirement outside of the lab. However, if you must miss a work period for any reason, you are obligated to make up the time through arrangement with the instructor.

Consent of the Instructor is required for enrollment. Prior coursework in archaeology is preferred but not required. Please contactvanderwarker@anth.ucsb.edu if you are interested in participating in this project. Make sure to include information such as your GPA, Anthropology/Archaeology courses you have taken, other lab/field experience, and why you are interested in this particular opportunity. Add codes are currently available.

Casey Walsh

Location:
HSSB 2081
893-2339

Research Project

Agriculture in California is confronting a water crisis with both environmental and social drivers. Climate change and globalized agriculture are combining to increase the demand for groundwater and the depletion of aquifers. Conflicts have emerged in recent years in the Central Coast region of California as expanding agricultural production has led to increased demand for subsoil water. In this project we analyze the social use and management of groundwater in this region of California, especially where wine grapes are grown.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate research assistants will create a bibliography for this project, that will include government documents, published scholarly works, and newspapers/magazine articles. If possible, undergraduates will assist with fieldwork, including interviews in person and by telephone.

Requirements

1) Anthropology Major
2) 90 units completed
3) 3.0 GPA for preceding three quarters
4) Anth 2 completed
5) 2 upper division courses in Anthropology completed.
6) Consent of the Instructor

Economics

Emanuel Vespa

Location:
3024 North Hall
917 497 8825

Research Project

We will conduct a series of computerized experiments to investigate several aspects of human behavior related to economics. We will also help update the recruiting technology in the experimental economics lab (http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/ebel/)

Undergraduate Contribution

Students can help compile and edit instructions, test the computer program, run sessions and analyze data. While some tasks are more mundane and clerical, students with more skill and experience will take part in the more analytical aspects of the research. Students can help upgrade the software used for recruitment and payment.

Requirements

Econ 10A, 100B (required); and Econ 171 (GameTheory) and 176 (Experimental Economics) recommended. Suited for Computer Science majors with Computational Economics Emphasis, Econ/Math majors and Econ majors.

Religious Studies

David Walker

Location:
HSSB 3086

Research Project

I am writing a chapter titled "Battling Brothers and The Mormon Giant: Wrestling, Villainy, and the Face-Turn of Modern Mormonism," on the subject of Mormon representations in popular culture -- and in professional wrestling, especially -- and the ways in which, contrary to some expectations, religions (generally) and Mormonism (in particular) have capitalized on their wrestling-ring projections and contestations.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate research assistant would conduct online research (e.g., looking at blogs, newspapers, and journals) and interviews with persons invested in the religious realms & representations of professional wrestling. 

Requirements

RS 7, RS 151B, RS 150B, RS 147, or equivalent. Familiarity with Mormon history and historical research methods.
 

Marine Science Institute

Libe Washburn

Location:
4306 MSRB
893-7367

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 in this project. For example, students are improving the design of quad-rotor drones for use over the coastal ocean. Another current effort is the development of payloads for the drones. Undergraduate students are currently working 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. During the upcoming year we are looking for undergraduates interested in developing and testing the robotic boat described above. 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.

Requirements

  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.

Geography

Libe Washburn

Location:
4306 MSRB
893-7367

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.

Requirements

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.

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