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.

Environmental Studies

Robert Heilmayr

Location:
Bren 4023

Research Project

Global markets for palm oil are an important driver of deforestation in Southeast Asia. However, there is increasing hope that the global supply chains driving land use change may also provide unique opportunities to halt deforestation. Eco-certification and zero-deforestation commitments seek to change the environmental footprint of palm oil production. In this research project, the Heilmayr lab is combining remote sensing and econometrics to quantify the impact of these new policies.

Undergraduate Contribution

While companies are beginning to make data about their oil palm supply chains public, the data is messy and inconsistent. The Student Research Assistant (SRA) will support efforts to collect, clean and organize this data in a more consistent format. Working under the guidance of Prof. Heilmayr, the SRA will aggregate this information in a geospatial database. Using this database, the SRA may support preliminary analysis of oil palm market structure and environmental impacts.

Requirements

At a minimum, applicants should have a high attention to detail and be available to work 20 hours per week during the fall and/or winter quarters. Ideal candidates would also meet several of the following criteria:
- Track record conducting quantitative, academic research;
- Experience with geospatial information systems (GIS);
- Ability to read Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia.

Ecology Evolution and Marine Biology

Scott Hodges

Location:
4105 LSB
805-893-7813

Research Project

This project seeks to determine the genetic dominance effects of naturally varying alleles of a floral homeotic gene AP3-3, which affects petal development. The petals of flowers of the columbine genus, Aquilegia, produce distinctive nectar spurs that aid in pollination. However we have identified multiple alleles at this locus associated with the homeotic transformation of petals into a second set of sepals. These alleles vary in their predicted severity of the mutation to the coded protein product. We seek to determine whether some of these alleles differ in their dominance effects.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate will use PCR amplification of the AP3-3 followed by restriction enzyme digestion to identify plants with different alleles. They will then make crosses with wild type or mutant plants to create offspring differing by being either heterozygous or homozygous for the mutant allele. They will then grow these, determine whether they are homozygous or heterozygous and correlate the genotypes with the phenotype of the flowers.

Requirements

Have taken Introductory Biology, and preferably Genetics.

Enthusiasm for plant biology and genetics.

Location:
4105 LSB
805-893-7813

Research Project

The goal of this project is to test the function of candidate genes predicted to affect the development of nectar spurs in columbines, the genus Aquilegia. Previous experiments have implicated a number of genes, including specific transcription factors, that have expression patterns highly correlated with the development of nectar spurs. To test these predictions we will utilize Viral Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) that allows us to specifically knockdown the amount of mRNA for any specific gene and thus reduce the amount of protein for which it codes. We then see if the knockdown of a gene has the predicted effect, i.e., that nectar spurs are no long produced.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate for this project will work closely with a postdoctoral associate in our laboratory. The undergraduate will assist all aspects of the VIGS experiment including the molecular biology of producing constructs to specifically target a gene, production of the bacterial vector delivery system, inoculation of plants, growing and scoring the plants for changes in phenotype, collecting and testing tissue for successful inoculation and testing affected tissue for the predicted change in mRNA amount and exploring the potential effects on the expression of other genes.

Requirements

Introductory Biology

Other: Introductory genetics strongly encouraged, laboratory courses which utilize molecular biology or microbiological techniques and organizational skills

Location:
4105 Life Sciences Building
893-7813

Research Project

This project seeks to determine if natural variation in the presence/absence of a floral organ, staminodia, is due to DNA sequence variation at the floral homeotic gene AP3-1. Flowers of species in the columbine genus, Aquilegia, have an unusual structure in that they have a fifth floral organ, staminodia, in addition to the usual four (sepals, petals, stamens and carpels). However the flowers of one species, A. jonesii, has evolutionary lost this ability. Developmental studies have implicated the gene AP3-1 as critical to the development of staminodia and thus this gene is a very strong candidate to explain the lack of staminodia in A. jonesii. We seek to determine if there are obvious lesions in the AP3-1 gene of A. jonesii compared to species that produce staminodia.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate will design PCR primers and optimize amplification of the AP3-1. They will then attempt to amplify AP3-1 from A. jonesii and other species. These PCR products will then be sequenced and compared to determine if the gene in A. jonesii is likely to be non-functional.

Requirements

Have taken Introductory Biology, and preferably Genetics. 
 
Enthusiasm for plant biology and genetics.
 
Location:
4105 LSB
893-7813

Research Project

This project will determine the effect of specific amino acid changes in a key enzyme (DFR) in the biosynthetic pathway for the production of anthocyanins, a floral pigment. Previous studies have implicated 2 amino acid positions as affecting the substrate specificity of DFR. If true, this specificity would affect whether the enzyme is capable of producing blue or red anthocyanins. Using phylogenetic techniques we will predict the ancestral amino acid sequence of DFR for North American Aquilegia species and then test the enzymatic capacity of enzymes with this sequence and compare that with enzymes with derived sequences.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate for this project will work closely with a graduate student. The undergraduate will analyze DNA sequences of the DFR gene and reconstruct the ancestral amino acid sequence. They will also work to transform E. coli with constructs to express different DFR genes, learn to isolate these proteins, and test their enzymatic capabilities with different substrates.

Requirements

  • Introductory Biology
  • Other laboratory courses which utilize molecular biology or microbiological techniques are useful organizational skills
Location:
4105 LSB
893-7813

Research Project

The goal of this project is to determine the genetic basis of adaptation to serpentine soil by Aquilegia eximia. Serpentine soils are one of the most extreme natural habitat that plants can be subjected to. The soils have very low nutrients, high amounts of toxic heavy metals, very low levels of Ca and high levels of Mg. Most plants die when forced to grow on serpentine soil yet some species, like A. eximia, have become specialized to only live there. This project will examine whether there is differential expression of genes in roots and shoots of A. eximia and its progenitor species A. formosa when growing on serpentine and non-serpentine soils. The project will also examine differentiation across the entire genome between the two species.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate for this project will work closely with Professor Hodges. The undergraduate will conduct experiments of germinating and growing seedlings on serpentine and non-serpentine soils, collection of roots and shoots, perform RNA isolations, and learn to construct DNA/cDNA libraries for next-generation sequencing. The undergraduate will also learn how to perform bioinformatic analysis of the resulting DNA sequences.

Requirements

  • Introductory Biology
  • Other laboratory courses which utilize molecular biology or microbiological techniques are useful organizational skills
Location:
4105 LSB
893-7813

Research Project

The goal of this project is to test the function of genes predicted to affect flower color in columbines, the genus Aquilegia. Previous experiments have implicated a number of genes, including specific transcription factors, that control the production of floral pigments (anthocyanins and carotenoids). To test these predictions we will utilize viral induced gene silencing (VIGS) that allows us to specifically knockdown the amount of mRNA for any specific gene and thus reduce the amount of protein for which it codes. We then see if the knockdown of a gene has the predicted effect, i.e., that the floral pigment is no longer produced.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate for this project will work closely with a postdoctoral associate in our laboratory. The undergraduate will assist all aspects of the VIGS experiment including the molecular biology of producing constructs to specifically target a gene, production of the bacterial vector delivery system, inoculation of plants, growing and scoring the plants for changes in phenotype, collecting and testing tissue for successful inoculation and testing affected tissue for the predicted change in mRNA amount and exploring the potential effects on the expression of other genes.

Requirements

  • Introductory Biology
  • Other laboratory courses which utilize molecular biology or microbiological techniques are useful organizational skills

Anthropology

Jeffrey Hoelle

Location:
HSSB 2073
893-4244

Research Project

The objective of this project is to increase understanding of the cultural practices and beliefs of UCSB students and residents of Isla Vista. Student research projects from previous classes and other sources will be compiled and organized into a profile of IV culture, including topics such as ritual, gender, diet, conflict, subgroups, leisure, and language. All information will be posted into an online database that will serve as a learning tool for anthropology students and a source of information for the general public and prospective students. Advanced students and those with Portuguese language skills may assist with ongoing research projects focusing on human-environment interactions, locally and in the Brazilian Amazon.

Undergraduate Contribution

•Assist with the creation of online database on local culture (editing, organizing, posting to site, interpretation of results) •Data entry and basic analysis •Local data collection, compilation of bibliographic resources, scanning, copying, taking photographs, basic content analysis, and retrieval of resources. •Students with Portuguese language skills may assist with review of Brazilian sources and coordinate with Brazilian partners and research subjects.

Requirements

Open to students from all majors, as long as they have taken ANTH 2. Applicants should have basic office skills (MS word, excel) and an interest in developing methodological skills, conducting fieldwork and data analysis. Those with advanced statistical training and Portuguese language are encouraged to apply. If interested, please contact hoelle@anth.ucsb.edu. In your message, please include the following: year, major, anthro classes taken, relevant experience, and why you want to participate in the project. Approved students will receive an add code for 1 unit of credit of ANTH 199 (each unit= 3 hrs./ week x 10 weeks in qtr= 30 hrs. total).

Statistics and Applied Probability

Tomoyuki Ichiba

Location:
South Hall 5508

Research Project

Conduct research in mathematical models of complex financial systems such as equity, derivative and interbank lending markets. Learn stochastic dynamics and probabilistic aspects in financial systems and related large scale networks. The project incorporates Probability and Statistics with numerical simulations by Python, Matlab, C++ and R. 

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate students can contribute by assisting the development of modeling financial systems. Students will learn existing models, implement and develop models in theory and also in numerical simulations.

Requirements

Upper division Probability and Statistics courses

Speech and Hearing Sciences

Roger Ingham

Location:
1051 Harder South

Research Project

This project involves evaluating the efficacy of a program designed to train clinicians to accurately measure stuttered speech in adults and adolescents who have a chronic stuttering problem

Undergraduate Contribution

This project will require 2 undergraduates to recruit about 15 student judges and (after training) manage the running of the tasks that constitute the experiment.

Requirements

This project is ideal for students who have an interest becoming a speech-language pathologist.

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