REU Mentors and Project Descriptions
Dr. Heidi Pearson, Professor of Marine Biology
The REU student selected for this project will be doing computer-based work to match images of dusky dolphin dorsal fins using the Finscan program. This is part of a long-term project on dusky dolphin behavioral ecology in New Zealand, and is a collaborative project with Texas A&M University. We are in the process of matching images of dusky dolphin fins obtained from the mid 1980's to the present so that we can examine long-term patterns of social bonding, grouping, and survival. There may be very limited opportunities for shore-based field work in the Juneau area; otherwise, the student will spend about 40h/wk in the lab doing computer-based work.
Dr. Michael Stekoll, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Knowledge of the kelp life cycle is critical for successful propagation and culture of the species. We know that certain conditions are necessary for the kelps to complete their life cycle. One essential nutrient is iron. Without iron in the water, the kelps are unable to produce eggs for starting the next generation. Our proposed research will investigate the role of iron in ovogenesis. We will use a radioactive tracer to attempt to locate the cellular location of the iron activation sites as well as attempt to find iron-binding proteins that mediate the formation of the eggs. This research will help us to understand how to control the life cycle of these kelps in a more effective manner.
Dr. David Tallmon, Professor of Biology
An important ecological and evolutionary question, particularly in Alaska, is how organisms are responding to rapid environmental changes associated with climate warming. We are examining the genetic and plastic responses of salmon, char, and trout to these changes. We intend to hire two NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student interns to conduct summer research projects in Juneau, Alaska. REU students will work closely with collaborators at NOAA and USFWS, and can expect to handle a variety of mature salmon, trout, and char, at the Auke Creek weir, to use radio telemetry to identify habitat use by mature salmon, and to conduct studies of juvenile salmon ecology. REU students will have a large role in designing their projects, but all projects require daily outdoor work in physically demanding conditions and inclement weather, as well as regular time spent indoors analyzing data.