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College Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Do you need research experience?

The College of Agricultural Sciences has developed an Undergraduate Research Fellowship for up to ten students per year from across the College.  We aim to provide opportunities for undergraduates to find purpose, mentorship and community within their academic discipline and we aspire to facilitate self-discovery through research engagement and increase access for all undergraduates to impactful science.

Student are encouraged to compete for the Fellowship by identifying a project of interest from the list available online.  Each fellowship will last for one semester (Fall, Spring, or Summer) and will pay the Fellow $2,000/semester for the hours worked. At approximately $13/hour, students will be allotted 10 hours per week over a 15-week semester to complete their unique project. Project leaders will be given $300 to assist with purchasing project supplies. All Fellows are encouraged to present their final project at the Multicultural Undergraduate Research Art and Leadership Symposium (MURALS) or the Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity (CURC) Showcase in spring of each year.

Questions?

Please contact Addy Elliott, Assistant Dean of Academic Advising and Student Success with any questions!

Adriane.Elliott@colostate.edu  970-491-6984

Application Deadline: December 10, 2019

Student Application

Instructions

The DEADLINE for your application is December 10th, 2019.

1) Please identify a College of Agricultural Sciences project that you are interested in working on during the Spring of 2020. To do so, check out the proposed projects at the webpage below:

2) Fill out the application form below and send it by email, along with a resume or CV that details any previous work experience, to the Dean’s Office, CAS_DeanMain@mail.colostate.edu

 

Project Application

Instructions

The DEADLINE for your completed project application is November 15, 2019.

1) Faculty, lab staff and other qualified leaders are encouraged to outline a one-semester project below. Please include the following to allow students a broad understanding of how this project may align with their interests and skill development:

a) Fellowship Mentor name and Project title
b) Justification or broad impact of project on the field of science it resides within.
c) Tasks to be completed during approximately 150-hour fellowship
d) Major skills and competencies that will be developed during the project execution

2) Please share the following to best describe how the Fellowship Mentor plans to support the Fellow throughout the Fellowship:

a) What training will the new Fellow receive to on-board them to community practices?
b) Who will the Fellow be working with directly?
c) Are there weekly/monthly group meetings that may provide additional training and/or connection for the Fellow with the other student employees working on related projects?
d) What specific mentorship is the Fellowship Mentor willing to provide the Fellow (for example, an introduction meeting and two additional meetings throughout the Fellowship)?
e) Are you interested in receiving a copy of Critical Mentoring: A Practical Guide by Torie Weiston-Serdan from the CAS Student Success Team to access current best practices for mentoring undergraduates?

3) Submit your project to cas_deanmain@Mail.Colostate.edu.

  • All available projects will be posted on the CAS Undergraduate Research Fellowship webpage and advertised to our undergraduates.
  • Undergraduate applications will be due by December 10 for Spring 2020 fellowships
  • Fellows will be announced before the end of the Fall 2019 semester.

 

Spring 2020 College of Agricultural Sciences Undergraduate Fellow Projects

Adaptation to different environments in a biological control agent

Mentor Dr. Ruth Hufbauer and Lily Durkee (graduate student)

Bioagricultural Sciences & Pest Management

Justification: Long-term, environmentally sound management of invasive weeds focuses on biological control, the introduction of insect or pathogens that are highly specialized on the weed. Biological control agents face crucial challenges when introduced into a new range, including spreading across novel environment. In this project, we are studying adaptation of a biological control agent, a beetle, to different habitats as they spread across the western United States, and the potential for evolution of host range among hybridizing populations of biological control agents. This work is crucial for informing safe and durable management of invasive species.

We have two experiments planned for the spring, and the Fellow could be part of either or potentially both. The first is to measure cold tolerance in beetles from different populations across their range in the United States, to evaluate whether populations have diverged in this trait crucial to overwintering success. The second is focused on the ability of the beetle to feed and develop on non-target host plants. The tasks will include using a programable freezer to measure super cooling point and cold recovery. Tasks for both projects will also include rearing the biological control agent and the plants on which it feeds. Day to day work will include beetle care, planning and executing experiments, collecting, managing, analyzing, and graphing data, and presenting results. Students will work both independently and as part of a team.

 

Link to full document

Evaluation of Ambient Ionization Mass Spectrometry, FT-IR Spectroscopy and Chemometric Modeling for Black Pepper Authentication

Mentor:  Dr. Jessica Prenni

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Food authentication is of increasing concern due to the presence of mislabeling or adulteration in food markets all over the world.  Such activities can have both economic and safety implications that can impact both producers and consumers.  Spices represent a common food product that is subject to adulteration; for example, mislabeling based on geographic origin (which often correlates with product value) or direct adulteration of ground spices with lower quality ingredients.  Thus, there is a need for the development of high-throughput and dependable methods for the detection of adulteration in food products.  This project will focus on the evaluation of two analytical technologies, ambient ionization mass spectrometry and FT-IR spectroscopy, coupled with chemometric modeling for classification of geographic origin or black pepper.

Link to full document

Corn Silage Project

Mentor Octavio Guimaraes

Animal Sciences

The inoculant treatments consist of: Control (no inoculant) and 2) Inoculant will be applied at a rate of 100,000 CFU per gram of ensiled forage. At the time of corn silage harvesting, the inoculant applicator on the harvester will be turned off and approximately 1,000 kg of green chop will be obtained. The 1,000 kg of non-inoculated green chop will be placed in a feed truck mixer box (that should be properly cleaned with a power washer prior to use in this experiment) and mixed thoroughly for 12 min at 15,000 rpm. Approximately 500 kg of non-inoculated (control) green chop will be discharged from the feed truck and packed into 50 experimental silos containing approximately 10 kg of green chop per silo (see experimental silo packing section below for details). After the control green chop corn silage is packed, the remaining silage on the feed truck is inoculated with 100,000 cfu per gram of silage with treatment. Inoculant is then mixed with 3 L of ultra-pure water and administered via a pressurized hand-held sprayer while the silage is mixing in the feed truck (total mixing time was 12 minutes at 15,000 rpm). Post inoculation, 50 experimental silos will be packed with the inoculated silage. The remaining silage in the field is also going to be inoculated with the same type of inoculant and stored in a 1000ton concrete silage bunker. Silage samples from the 1000ton concrete bunker as well as the 100 experimental silos will be assayed for silage fermentation characteristics 30 days post-harvest. At the end of the 30day fermentation period, all experimental silos will be opened, mixed thoroughly, and samples will be obtained for chemical analysis and in vitro DM digestibility. The remaining fermented corn silage is then repacked into each experimental silo and left uncovered for 72 h. After the 72h time period, samples are obtained for yeast/mold counts.

Link to full document

Single Dose Equine Contraceptive

Mentor Dr. Jason Bruemmer

Animal Sciences

The purpose of the proposed work is to perform a pilot study focused on the efficacy of using AdjuVac alone or AdjuVac loaded in liposomes, both with the combination of GDF9 and BMP15 peptides as an immunocontraceptive in mares.  Our previous work has demonstrated that mares vaccinated with a mild adjuvant and 3 subsequent boosters provided a measurable antibody response for approximately 24 weeks.  This antibody response was sufficient to result in suppression of follicular growth and ovulation in 90% of treated animals for a period of at least a two-years; suggesting successful contraception.  We propose to determine whether the use of AdjuVac alone or in combination with liposomes in a single administration of the same peptides could provide a similar antibody response and provide similar contraceptive capabilities.

Link to full document

Investigation of Gene Expression in the Equine Hind Gut

Mentor Dr. Stephen Coleman

Animal Sciences

Horses do not possess the enzymes necessary to digest the dietary fiber they consume and instead rely on microbial fermentation in their hindgut to generate nutrients and energy. Maintaining the balance between the horse and these resident microbes (homeostasis) is essential for proper digestive physiology. Recent work in my lab has demonstrated that each compartment of the hindgut possesses a unique microbial community that is tied to particular aspects of digestion. We have also investigated the expression of non-coding RNA transcripts in the tissues of the equine gastrointestinal compartments as a potential mechanism for horses to interact with and regulate these microbial communities. The purpose of the work to be completed by the Undergraduate Research Fellow is to contribute to our developing understanding of the host-specific (horse) factors – such as coding and non-coding gene expression –involved in physiology and homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract.

Tasks to Complete:
– Isolation/quality control analysis of RNA from equine gastrointestinal tissues – Small RNA-seq library preparation
– Sequence generation @ CSU Next-Generation Sequencing Core facility
– Sequence analysis
– Summary of results

Link to full document

Molecular Weed Science

Mentor Dr. Todd Gaines, Dr. Sarah Morran

Bioagricultural Sciences & Pest Management

Weeds are a major issue every year in crops, rangeland, and aquatic systems. The Molecular Weed Science lab studies the evolutionary basis of weedy traits, such as herbicide resistance, seed dormancy, and abiotic stress tolerance. Results from the lab are used to diagnose herbicide resistance, identify weed species, and provide new knowledge for crop improvement. During the fellowship, the Fellow will learn basics of plant molecular biology, including DNA and RNA extraction and PCR genotyping methods. Once these key skills are mastered, the Fellow will begin a specific project to develop diagnostic genotyping markers to identify species within the Echinochloa genus, including E. crus-galli and E. colona. By the end of the project, the student will be competent in molecular biology methods to extract and genotype DNA, and gain skills to analyze quantitative PCR genotyping results. These skills are transferable to any field using molecular biology.

The Fellow will be trained in a complete set of biosafety protocols, including safe procedures for working with hazardous materials, recombinant DNA, microorganisms, and radiation safety. The Fellow will be trained in proper pipette use, as well as specific training for protocols including nucleic acid extraction and PCR. The Fellow will be working directly with lab manager Dr. Sarah Morran as well as graduate and undergraduate students in the lab. The Molecular Weed Science lab has a weekly meeting to discuss lab organization, review recent publications, and have presentations by students on their work. The Fellow will give one presentation at weekly lab meeting on their results. The Mentors will develop a mentorship plan with the Fellow. Yes, we’d like to get a copy of the mentoring best practices book.

Link to full document

Characterizing the influence of trace mineral source and diet type on nutrient digestion and mineral availability in beef cattle

Mentor Octavio Guimaraes

Animal Sciences

The trial is compost of 3 metabolism studies that will be conducted for 3 months. The student will be involved in the day-to-day basis of the project management, sample collection and animal husbandry in general. After the completion of the 3 sets of metabolism studies the student will be heavily involved during all the sample analysis which will be performed in additional 3 months. With that this student will be able to learn from field sampling to laboratorial analysis.

Link to full document

Molybdenum water concentration and beef cattle performance

Mentor Dr. Terry Engle and Octavio Guimaraes

Animal Sciences

Previous research (Kistner et al., 2017; J. Anim. Sci. 95:2758-2766) in our laboratory has indicated that molybdenum (Mo) supplied in drinking is not effective in reducing copper (Cu) status in feedlot cattle. The intent of the proposed experiment is to investigate the influence of dose of Mo in drinking water on Cu metabolism and apparent digestion and retention of molybdenum and copper in lactating and pregnant beef cattle fed a forage-based diet.

Animals will be housed in their appropriate feedlot pens. On day 28 of the experiment, one cow will be selected from each pen (n=18) and transported to the metabolism barn. While in the metabolism barn, all animals will remain on their appropriate treatments. Treatments will consist of: 1) Negative control (no supplemental dietary Cu and no Mo added to the drinking water; ≈ 14:1 Cu: Mo); 2) Positive control (additional Cu supplementation;≈3.0 mg Cu/kg diet DM to supply a total dietary Cu concentration of 10 mg Cu/kg DM; and no Mo added to the drinking water; ≈20.0:1 Cu: Mo); 3)500 µg of Mo/L added to the drinking water (no supplemental dietary Cu; ≈ 3.5:1 Cu: Mo); 4) 1,000 µg of Mo/L added to the drinking water (no supplemental dietary Cu; ≈ 2.0:1 Cu: Mo); 5) 1,000 µg of Mo/L added to the drinking water with additional Cu supplementation (≈3.0 mg Cu/kg diet DM to supply a total dietary Cu concentration of 10 mg Cu/kg DM; ≈2.8:1 Cu: Mo); and 6) 3 mg Mo/kg DM added to the feed and no Mo added to the drinking water (≈2.0:1 Cu: Mo).  Each animal will be housed in metabolism pens (3m x 3m equipped with individual waters, individual feeders, rubber matted floors, and a drain. Animals will be allowed to acclimate to their new environment for 3 days. At the end of the 3day acclimation phase, animals with the closet DMI across treatments will be paired. Once animals are appropriately paired, each individual pair will be fed the same amount of feed. Feed delivered to each pair will be 90.0% of the animal within the pair with the lowest average DMI during the acclimation period. This will ensure equal amounts of feed intake within each pair of animals during the 5d total collection phase. The next 5 d will serve as the sample collection period used to determine apparent absorption and retention of Cu and Mo. After the 5d fecal and urine collection phase all animals will be returned to their appropriate feedlot pens. This process will be repeated on the same animals at approximately day 150 and 350 of the experiment.

Pens will be checked daily to monitor animals for health and locomotion problems. Animals exhibiting symptoms of respiratory disease will be assigned scores of 0 or 1 for each of the following respiratory symptoms: eye discharge, nasal discharge, coughing, rapid breathing, and depressed appearance. Rectal body temperatures will also be recorded for suspect animals that are removed from the pen. Two additional points will be assigned to animals exhibiting body temperatures greater than 39.4° C. Animals with a total of four or more points will be considered morbid. All morbid animals will be treated according to the appropriate treatment schedule as communicated from the Attending Veterinarian to feedlot personnel, immediately returned to the pen, and allowed a chance to recover. All animals being treated get red ear tags and are treated and observed according to the treatment protocol. If problems persist concerning the health status of specific animals, they will be removed from the experiment. The Attending Veterinarian will be consulted, and appropriate humane intervention taken upon their recommendation.

Link to full document

The National Western Center Green Roof Integration with Solar Panel Research

Mentor Dr. Jennifer Bousselot

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Competition for space on rooftops is becoming fierce – building owners are often asked to decide if they want to invest in renewable energy such as solar panels or provide green space on rooftops. Except that there doesn’t have to be a rivalry; green roofs and solar panels blend well together on rooftops. In fact, it can be said that they have a synergistic relationship, if the term ‘synergy’ can be applied to the interaction of plants and technology.

This synergistic relationship means that both green roofs and solar panels perform better by sharing the space on rooftops. Green roofs cool ambient rooftop temperatures in summer so solar panels produce more energy (Alshayeb and Chang 2018; Gupta et al 2017; Hui and Chan 2011; Köhler et al 2007; Ogali and Sailor 2016; Sherba et al 2011). Solar panels on green roofs shade plants therefore reducing evapotranspiration rates (Alshayeb and Chang 2018; Bousselot et al 2017; Köhler et al 2007; Ogali and Sailor 2016). Solar panels also moderate extreme temperatures on rooftops to the benefit of plants in both summer and winter (Bousselot et al 2017).

Link to full document

The Colorado Native Plant Finishing Protocols for the Horticultural Industry Survey

Mentor Dr. Jennifer Bousselot

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Colorado native plants are underrepresented in the horticultural industry in Colorado. However, due to interest in water conservation of landscapes, biodiversity and declining pollinator populations, the relative value of native plants has reemerged among residents of our state. Gardeners are interested in garnering these benefits in their landscapes but there is a notable lack of attractive native plant material available for purchase in the industry. Designers and landscapers, too, are interested in specifying and installing pleasing native plants for their clients. Even policy in Colorado is encouraging the use of drought tolerant landscaping with bill HB19-1050 Encourage Use of Xeriscape in Common Areas https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1050.

The Fellow will take the aggregated qualitative data from the survey and collate by plant species (up to 20 species) into summaries. Then, based on the themes from those summaries, they will then be drafted as plant finishing protocols to be tested over the summer in the greenhouse. The Fellow will be aggregating the qualitative data for approximately the first half of the semester (~75 hours), with guidance from all collaborators. Then the Fellow will be preparing the plant finishing protocols the second half of the semester (~75 hours), also with collaborator guidance.

Link to full document

PANDAS: Precision Agriculture Network of Degradable Analytical Sensors

Mentor Dr. Raj Khosla

Soil and Crop Sciences

This project is funded from ARPA-E for 3-yrs. This project seeks to develop, fabricate and test a network of additively manufactured, biodegradable soil sensor nodes with costs of < $1 per unit. These sensor nodes will be easily distributed, and continuously monitor soil and crop conditions (soil moisture and soil nitrogen) for an entire season, be read remotely, and require no ongoing maintenance.

We need student(s) to evaluate the degradability and accuracy of these sensors in field and controlled conditions. Students will assist in setting-up of the experiments, implementing treatment levels and taking periodic measurements.

 

Link to full document

Can Rapid Evolution to a Degraded Environment Save Populations from Extinction?

Mentor Dr. Ruth Hufbauer and Lily Durkee (graduate student)

Bioagricultural Sciences & Pest Management

Populations facing changing and degrading environments must adapt or else risk going locally extinct. We are studying how to facilitate adaptation under stressful environmental conditions, which can allow declining populations to avoid extinction. Learning how to best facilitate adaptation can also guide methods to restrict population growth to manage invasive species and pest populations. We use a small beetle as a model system to study these situations that would be difficult or unethical to study with populations in the wild. Our study system is easy to manipulate and due to the beetle’s high reproductive rates and short generation time, we can measure rapid population dynamics and even evolutionary change over the course of a semester. This work is crucial to informing effective long-term conservation, invasive species, and pest management.

The tasks will include rearing experimental populations of beetles, creating beetle populations with different levels of genetic diversity (i.e. bottlenecked and non-bottlenecked), and measuring their fitness (ability to survive and reproduce) in different environments. Day to day work will include beetle care, planning and executing experiments, and collecting, managing, and analyzing data. Students will work both independently and as part of a team.

Link to full document

Effects of Supplemental Copper on Ruminal Biohydrogenation of Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Mentor Dr. Terry Engle

Animal Sciences

A large proportion of lipids in diets fed to cattle consists of unsaturated fatty acids. When ingested, dietary unsaturated fatty acids are extensively biohydrogenated (removal of the double bonds in unsaturated fatty acids) in the rumen to yield saturated fatty acids as well as intermediates of the biohydrogenation process (e.g. C18:1 trans isomer. This biohydrogenation process allows for only small amounts of dietary unsaturated fatty acids to by-pass the rumen and become absorbed by the animal. Therefore, the lipid content of ruminant tissue contains a high proportion of saturated fatty acids and intermediates from the biohydrogenation process relative to nonruminant species.

Our laboratory has recently reported that adding 20 or 40 mg of Cu/kg dry matter (DM) to growing and finishing diets increased polyunsaturated fatty acids (C18:2 and C18:3) and decreased the C18:1 trans isomer in longissimus muscle. This suggests that Cu supplementation may have decreased microbial biohydrogenation of unsaturated acids in the rumen, thus allowing for a greater amount of unsaturated fatty acids to by-pass the rumen and be absorbed from the lower gut. Therefore, the objective of this experiment is to investigate the effects of Cu on microbial fermentation products and biohydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids using in vitro fermentation techniques.

Significance of the proposed work: Due to the negative human health impacts of consuming diets high in dietary saturated fatty acid content, several attempts have been made using by-pass lipids (lipids that are protected from ruminal fermentation: i.e. calcium lipid soaps) to increase unsaturated and decrease saturated fatty acid composition of beef consumed by humans. However, little success has been achieved in this area because of the complexity of the rumen environment. This experiment could potentially offer a practical means for altering the fatty acid composition in beef by determining if Cu alters microbial biohydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids.

Link to full document

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