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Plant Ecology Research Assistant

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We are seeking 2-3 undergraduate researchers, preferably juniors or sophomores but all years welcome to inquire. Some flexibility with hours is available, but committing to at least 5 hrs/week is preferred. We also prefer students who will stay for at least two semesters. The students may have the option of continuing related research over the summer via the SURF program or staying in the lab to develop a related honors thesis.

The research project focuses on understanding the emergent properties of plant communities and ecosystems which simple models and experiments fail to predict. What is the nature of these emergent properties of diverse communities? How are they affected by changing environmental conditions? How might this affect our predictions of how ecosystems will function and provide services in a changing world?

Our study system is the small aquatic plants known as duckweed. Duckweed have many exciting and interesting applications but have not yet been studied well enough for humans to harness their full potential. They are very promising for cleaning up wastewater; making sustainable biofuel; as a nutrient & protein-packed sustainable food; natural mosquito control; a more sustainable replacement of corn and soy for production of many chemicals; among others. SURF or honors thesis projects could relate more directly to one of these applications.

This fall, the research assistants will primarily assist with laboratory work related to cultivating duckweed and helping run ecology experiments with the plants. Tasks may include but are not limited to the following: maintaining plant cultures; identifying and sorting duckweed by species; making and testing chemical properties of nutrient media; microscopy; data entry and analysis; image analysis and/or machine learning; reading scientific papers; and creative discussion about experimental techniques.

In the spring, laboratory work will continue but some field work will begin. Field work will primarily involve growing and maintaining duckweed in outdoor tanks at Mason Farm Bio Reserve.

*If interested, please send a resume and short (<1 page double spaced) cover letter to Dr. Chase Rakowski at Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis so please send materials ASAP.*

Faculty Advisor
Dr. Senay Yitbarek
Research Supervisor
Dr. Chase Rakowski
Faculty Email:
Type of Position
Application Deadline