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 or the Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Showcase in spring of each year.
The DEADLINE for the application has passed.
To apply to the Spring 2022 CAS Undergraduate Research Fellowship, please review the available projects below. Once you have read through each project, click here to apply.
Mentor: Terry Engle
Animal Sciences Department
Trace elements (copper, manganese, and zinc) play an important role in growth, immune function, and fetal development in beef cattle. Understanding how these elements are digested, absorbed and, metabolized are critical to improving beef cattle production.
These projects will require sample collection from live animals, laboratory analysis, and data interpretation.
Opportunities: Time spent working with and collecting samples from beef cattle; laboratory analysis, and possibly data presentation at a regional or national meeting.
Mentors: Caitlin Cadaret / Allison Vautier
Animal Sciences Department
This project will serve as a subset to a broader project being conducted in our lab. We are evaluating nutrient restriction during gestation on lamb growth, development, and metabolism. After weaning, lambs will be evaluated for reproductive and generational impacts in females and profit driving characteristics in males such as growth, efficiency, digestibility, and carcass characteristics. Results from these projects will inform the way we manage grazing livestock in the west as nutrient restriction naturally occurs on pastures that are limited in nutrients during winter when animals are normally pregnant. Better understanding of developmental programming impacts will allow us to identify compromised animals quick and develop management techniques that recover deficits from these animals.
For the spring semester tasks will include daily husbandry practices for ~30 pregnant yearling ewes. Administration of dietary treatments, collection of weights and blood from both dams and lambs. Assistance with lambing, weekly morphometric collection from lambs. If time allows, laboratory analysis by ELISA of blood hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism.
The student will be trained in correct animal handling and welfare both by IACUC training and on the job training with the animals. They will be able to spend a large amount of time out at ARDEC getting experience with large animal handling and data collection. If time allows the student will also be provided laboratory experience in the nutrition lab of animal sciences to analyze blood collected during the fellowship period, as well as brief data analysis. Student is welcome to attend any laboratory meetings, seminars, and presentations of research. While we do not attend societal meetings during the spring semester, the student will have the opportunity to present a poster at the CSU events. Additionally, if the student continues with our group they will be provided the opportunity to take a poster to a society meeting in summer.
Mentor: Rebecca Cleary
Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics
Diet-related diseases disproportionately affect lower-income and less-educated households. There is a higher incidence of obesity, hypertension, heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke, inflammation, and other diet-related morbidities and an increased risk of mortality among these at-risk households. The distribution of these diseases may be linked with poorer nutrition, which may be passed on to future generations. At-risk households, on average, have diet qualities that are poorer than more advantaged households, which may contribute to the increased prevalence of diet-related diseases among these populations.
Explanations for the difference in nutrition include the higher costs of healthier diets, food environment, and health behaviors and literacy that may be related to education. There is some evidence that at-risk households eat fewer fruits and vegetables; although the evidence that there is a difference in nutrition in macronutrients (e.g., protein) is mixed.
This project will investigate which factors—diet costs, food environment, nutrition knowledge, demographics—contribute to the gap in nutrition and how their contributions vary from low- to high-quality diets. Understanding the relative importance of these factors will help to inform nutrition policy aimed at improving nutrition for at-risk households with low quality diets.
- Extract, clean, and manage the publicly available National Food Acquisitions and Purchases Survey (FoodAPS) data,
- Write and execute a program code to conduct mathematical analyses in STATA, and
- Interpret results from mathematical analysis to inform policy.
This project comes with a broad range of potential opportunities:
- Encouraged to join monthly Food Systems Research Lab meetings in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
- Invitation to network and collaborate with a team consisting of researchers, students, and policymakers conducting research to inform U.S. nutrition policy
- One-on-one instruction on the use and handling of data
- One-on-one instruction on using programming methods and organizing files for research
- Weekly meetings with the project mentor
- Other opportunities to connect with policymakers, economists, and the professional organization dependent upon project progress
When environments change, populations of plants and animals can decline and risk eventually going extinct. Adaptation to changes in the environment can reduce the risk of extinction, a process called ‘evolutionary rescue’. Theory predicts that adaptation requires genetic variation. Experiments show that probability of rescue is higher with genetic variation, but they mainly focus on large populations that harbor substantial genetic variation (for example using yeast or bacteria; e.g., Martin et al. 2013). In the context of evolutionary rescue, however, populations are expected to be small, which means that other evolutionary processes such as inbreeding depression and genetic drift can interfere with adaptation. We therefore wonder how the level of genetic variance influences the probability of rescue in more realistically populations.
With the current revisitation of hemp as a crop to be produced within the United States there are a great many challenges, notably the arthropod (insects and mites) pests associated with the crop are essentially undescribed, as are the pest management needs. Several arthropod species have been observed to feed on all parts of the plant. However, the most serious pest that present high potential for crop injury is the hemp russet mite (HRM). In Colorado, HRM is widely distributed in all hemp growing counties and one grower reported to have expended over $300,000 just for pesticide costs used in spraying fields in 2019. In Tennessee, ca. 18% of the growers had serious problems with HRM in 2019 and several growers reported destroying and burning their fields due to this pest. Moreover, it listed by cannabis producers in California as the most important pest species of the crop. Although HRM can occur on any type of hemp crop, hemp producers that have significant problems with HRM are producing CBD forms of the crop. This production system involves clonal propagation, producing transplants for field production cloned from mother plants. Hence, it is critical that the transplants are 100% free of pests including HRM.
The specific tasks related to this project are:
DNA extractions. You will need to be trained in DNA extraction techniques. This is routinely done in my lab, so I don’t anticipate any problems. I expect that she will work with my graduate student, Judith Chiginsky who is well-trained in molecular techniques.
Primer development. Currently, there are no there are no nucleotide sequences deposited for HRM in GenBank from which primers can be developed. The nearest relative of hemp russet mite, is tomato russet mite that has two nucleotide sequences for house-keeping genes, COI and ITS2. We will use these sequences to design species-specific primers to amplify these genes in HRM.
PCR cycling conditions. You will work with me to develop optimal PCR conditions for the HRM detection.
Data analysis and presentation of results. The PCR products (amplicons) will have to be sequenced to confirm that the COI and ITS2 sequences only match HRM and no other mite.
I anticipate that each task will take on average one month (35-40 hours), so it can be completed in one semester.
There will be several mentoring opportunities. In addition, I expect that you will present results at CURC and MURAL in spring, ARDEC field day in August and other extension meetings in Fall.