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Life Sciences Exploration Student Research Program

Thanks to a grant from University Honors & Scholars, the Center for Life Sciences Education is offering a funded research experience for up to nine students majoring in Biology during the 2023-24 academic year. This experience will be a one-semester commitment in which you will be conducting a research project in one of three areas in the Life Sciences: Molecular Biology, Ecology, or Biology Education. You will be expected to commit 6 hours weekly throughout the semester toward the project. As part of the project, you will receive Biology Research Credit (Biology 4998) and be awarded a $1600 scholarship (normal financial aid requirements apply).  Students need not be members of the Honors or Scholars programs to qualify.

Three students will be selected for each of the three projects. For the autumn 2023 semester, the two projects are:

  • Cell Biology / Molecular Genetics Research: Under the supervision of Dr. Harold Fisk, Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Interim Director of the Center for Life Sciences Education, one cohort of students will explore issues in the control of centrosome biogenesis. Centrosomes regulate assembly of the mitotic spindle, the machine that moves chromosomes during cell division. Many cancer cells fail to properly control centrosome biogenesis and accumulate excess centrosomes, the presence of which drives tumorigenesis by promoting the assembly of abnormal mitotic spindles that generate errors in chromosome segregation. Student researchers in this cohort will receive Institutional Biosafety Committee training and learn to explore the relevant literature on centrosomes and their role in cancer. Students will learn recombinant DNA technology and protein biochemistry as they perform site-directed mutagenesis and protein affinity purification in order to test a variety of hypotheses regarding physical interactions among critical centrosome control proteins. Students will meet regularly with Dr. Fisk, attend weekly lab meetings, and prepare a final oral report on their research.
  • Biology Education Research: Dr. Amy Kulesza, Assistant Director for Educational Research and Development in the Center for Life Sciences Education, will work with students as a cohort to investigate biology education research questions. Dr. Kulesza’s current research focuses on understanding factors that lead to increased retention of minoritized and first-generation undergraduate students in STEM. Broadly, she is interested in how current policies (such as prerequisite courses) and practices (such as use of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences [CUREs] or service- learning) impact student retention. Specifically, she is interested in how classroom tools such as metacognition, time management skills, and positive affirmation can improve student outcomes. Student researchers in this cohort will collect baseline data on student metacognitive skill development in introductory biology courses as a result of various techniques used by instructors. Student researchers in this cohort will complete human subjects research training, and learn skills in protocol development, survey administration, and quantitative data analysis. Students will be mentored as a group in a weekly meeting, and monthly one-on-one meetings with Dr. Kulesza.

The spring 2024 project will be:

  • Ecological Research: In this semester-long project, undergraduate researchers will investigate tropical insects collected in light traps and ant emergence traps. Students will learn basic ecological principles as it relates to tropical biodiversity, insect identification, and DNA barcoding. Each student will be expected to participate in data collection (e.g., insect sorting and identification, PCR and Sanger sequencing of the COI gene) and lead a small independent study. In the first month students will choose an area of interest and as the semester concludes they will construct a project infographic based on their research results. The Adams Mega Ant Lab broadly aims to understand the evolution of traits that drive community assembly in ant-centric symbiotic species networks (see https://megalomyrmex.osu.edu/). Dr. Adams, an EEOB Associate Professor, leads a collaborative team in a supportive research environment at the Museum of Biological Diversity at The Ohio State University. She is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive team that is productive, happy and will attain their career goals. We are searching for three first- or second-year students interested in learning about research practices and communicating science. Women and underrepresented minorities are particularly encouraged to apply.

As part of this application, you will be asked to submit a personal statement outlining why you will be interested in this program, how the experience will further your academic or professional goals, and provide a justification of your financial need. The personal statement should not exceed two pages (single-spaced, 12 point font).

The application for the autumn projects is now closed.

The application for the spring project is OPEN until October 1, 2023. Click here to apply.

For more information, contact Adam Andrews.