Student-Faculty Research in Biology

Faculty in the Biology department have active research programs that involve  students in mentored, original research projects in the summer and during the academic year. This page contains information to help students get involved in Biology research at Carleton.   

Summer Research

Summer student researchers in the Biology department work with faculty members on projects related to the faculty member’s research interests. Summer research opportunities are funded by external grants awarded to faculty members or by donations given to Carleton to support student research. During summer 2018, students will be paid $460 per week for up to ten weeks of full-time research at Carleton.

Research during the Academic Year

During academic terms, research students working with faculty in Biology receive academic credit. Once a student applies and is accepted into a faculty member’s research group, they may enroll in BIOL394 (Student-Faculty Research in Biology) by filling out the BIOL394 form available on the Biology Department web site and on the registrar’s site.

The application process:  How to apply to do research in the Biology Department

Before applying, students who are interested in working with a faculty member should check out their research interests on the Biology Faculty and Staff pages and contact them to discuss possible projects and availability of positions. We will begin reviewing summer 2018 applications on March 1st.  Academic year research applications are considered on a rolling basis. 

As the number of available research positions in the Biology Department is limited, we also encourage students to apply for other research opportunities. Links to some of these Carleton research opportunities and fellowships can be found on the Math and Science at Carleton research opportunities page.  Additionally, some links to summer undergraduate research opportunities available at other institutions can be found at the Biology Summer REUs and Internships page.

Biology Faculty research descriptions and applications

Rika Anderson (link to summer 2018 application)

Dr. Anderson is an oceanographer and astrobiologist. The Anderson Lab uses next-generation sequencing tools to better understand the processes that drive microbial and viral evolution over time and to gain an understanding of how life co-evolves with its environment over time. This includes collaboration with astronomers, geologists, chemists, and atmospheric scientists to ask big-picture questions in astrobiology and oceanography.

Dan Hernandez  (Not accepting new students for spring term or summer 2018. Check back here in summer for Fall 2018 opportunities)

Dr. Hernandez is an ecosystem ecologist researching the effects of changes in plant communities (from disturbance, herbivory, and loss of biodiversity) on carbon and nutrient cycling in savannas and grasslands. Current research pursuits of the Hernandez lab includes investigating the consequences of nitrogen deposition and cattle grazing on serpentine grasslands in California and the role of mammalian herbivores in the structure and function of restored prairies in the Arb.

Fernan Jaramillo (Not accepting new students for Spring term or Summer 2018. Check back here in summer for Fall 2018 opportunities)

Dr. Jaramillo is a neurobiologist interested in sensory systems. His work focuses on the hair cell, the mechanosensory receptor of the auditory, vestibular, and lateral line systems. Current research interests of the Jaramillo Lab include the study of mechanoelectrical transduction, molecular motors in the hair cell, the role of noise in sensory processing, and the physiology of synaptic transmission.

Mark McKone (Not accepting new students for Spring term or Summer 2018. Check back here in summer for Fall 2018 opportunities)

Dr. McKone is an evolutionary ecologist and pursues research on the interactions between insects and plants. Particular interests and pursuits of the McKone Lab include the pollinator community of prairie composites and the evolutionary impact of pre-dispersal seed predators of grasses. 

Raka Mitra (Not accepting new students for spring term or summer 2018. If you are interested in Fall 2018 opportunities, contact Raka by email in August)

Dr. Mitra is a molecular and cellular biologist interested in the interactions between plants and microbes. Her lab studies bacterial pathogens of plant roots with the goal of understanding disease development and plant defense. Current lab projects involve elucidating the role of bacterial effector proteins in pathogenesis of tomato plants.

Matt Rand

Dr. Rand, a vertebrate reproductive biologist, studies the hormonal mediation and function of sexually dimorphic traits. Currently the Rand Lab is looking at the role of genes in determining pigment differences in Sceloporus lizards. 

Rou-Jia Sung  (Not accepting new students for Spring term or Summer 2018. Check back here in summer for Fall 2018 opportunities).

Dr. Sung is molecular biochemist interested in the regulation of protein function. Her lab combines techniques from cell biology, molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and structural biology to study the modulation of ionotropic receptor function by auxiliary proteins, with the goal of understanding how problems in receptor regulation are related to different disease states. Current projects are focused on understanding the regulation of AMPA receptors by the ly-6 protein family.

Debby Walser-Kuntz (Not accepting new students for Spring term or Summer 2018. Check back here in summer for Fall 2018 opportunities)

Dr. Walser-Kuntz is an immunologist interested in the potential impact of the environment on the immune system.  The Walser-Kuntz Lab is currently exploring both how diet and a common plastic component, bisphenol A, affects immune cell responses. Current projects utilize techniques such as real-time PCR, ELISA assays, and fluorescence microscopy, and students gain experience working in relevant animal model systems. 

Jennifer Wolff (Application for summer 2018 is now closed. Check back here in August for Fall 2018 opportunities)

Jennifer Wolff’s lab uses classic and molecular genetic techniques to study how neuronal fates are specified by transcription factors, using the nematode C. elegans as our model system. During summer 2018, students will work on projects including molecular cloning and analysis of fluorescent transgene expression in neurons, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, and ChIP-qPCR.   

Stephan Zweifel (Not accepting new students for Spring term or Summer 2018)

Dr. Zweifel, a geneticist and molecular biologist, is interested in examining the replication and segregation of mitochrondrial DNA in the yeast S. cerevisiae. The Zweifel Lab is interested in identifying and characterizing the nuclear genes responsible for the proper transmission of the mitochondrial genome