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Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Undergraduates play an active research role in the lab. We typically have 3-5 undergraduates working in the lab each semester. In the summer, several students have had the opportunity to conduct field research. Students working in the lab often are taking independent research credit. Many students have been supported by grants (NSF REU; WISER and various training grants), especially during the summer. There are also opportunities for work study positions and limited wage payroll positions. Often a student in the lab develops a research project that becomes an honors thesis or presents a poster at the Undergraduate research fair. We also have supported students to present their research at national scientific meetings. These experiential opportunities are critical for students interested in excelling in the sciences.

Current opportunities

A Better Understanding of the Ecology of Sustainable Agriculture and Forest Carbon Fluxes.

Sustainable agriculture depends on the promotion and management of healthy soils. Healthy soils support root growth and beneficial microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi, to enhance soil quality, nutrient uptake and crop production.  A student working on this project will investigate root and fungal interactions and how they relate to root and soil health. 

Forests can be major sinks for carbon in a changing climate.  One of the greatest uncertainties in terrestrial carbon fluxes is that occurring below ground.  A student on this project will work on questions of how does soil moisture and nutrients affect root production and turnover and soil CO2 in a changing climate.

Liz making minirhizotron measurements by a willow

Liz (B.S., Environmental Sciences, Univ. Vermont, 2013) worked in a dry tundra ecosystem in SW Greenland on a NSF Funded root phenology project.

Melissa was a Senior in Biology (Ecology option) and working on a project linking above-ground and below-ground phenology in temperate tree species.

Cody's (Environmental Resource Management major) undergraduate research project focused on understanding the relationship between soil volumetric water content and soil water isotopic signature at the Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory.

Jenna Mitchell

Jenna (Environmental Resource Management with dual minors in Soils and Water)