Opportunities


Table of Contents
1. Summary
2. The Project
3. Qualifications
4. Timeline
5. Nondiscrimination
6. Compensation
7. Contact
8. Learning Objectives
9. Expanded Opportunities
10. Optional Background Readings

Summary
I am looking for undergraduate research volunteers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for academic year 2013-2014. Duties involve greenhouse work including: planting, watering, censusing, pollinating, and harvesting Rudbeckia hirta (Asteraceae, Black Eyed Susan). Commitment is negotiable, and will likely vary throughout the academic year. There is potential to continue into the summer. If you are interested, please email golds306@umn.edu to set up a meeting to discuss possibilities.
See the poster I made for this here.

The Project
The simplest explanation I can give of my project is that I am interested in the potential of native species to adapt to roadside conditions based on seed source. I have collected seed from across the historically prairie portion of Minnesota. These populations will be crossed so that we know their pedigree, and then planted into roadside common garden experimental plots. We will then track the plants throughout their lifespan to assess their potential to adapt.

For the fall and spring of academic year 2013-2014 I am looking for greenhouse help (and potentially help planting the common garden plots in the spring depending on when the season starts). Depending on funding and willingness, there may be fieldwork opportunities summer 2014. My project should last until 2017, so there is definite possibility in continuing with the project for multiple years. A friend actually wrote up two experiences helping me with fieldwork if you are curious, and you can find them at: "The Search for Flowers in Schaefer Prairie, MN" and "Researching the Viability of Prairie Restoration Along Minnesota's Roadsides."

Qualifications
No experience is necessary (this is likely a good way to build experience for other research projects). Fine motor skills will be important for pollinations, attention to detail, and a willingness to work (including under greenhouse conditions which may get a bit warm).

Timeline
October 2013 the plants will go into the greenhouse. I will need help planting these, and censusing their germination. Once they begin flowering we will track flowering, perform crosses, and compensate the design for self incompatibility. Once plants are done we will harvest seed heads. Greenhouse space reservation ends in April. There is the possibility of continuing work into the summer and future years.

Nondiscrimination
I am strongly committed to nondiscrimination and equal opportunity. Members of underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.
The University Nondiscrimination Policy: "Discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed or religion, sex (including sexual harassment), marital status, affectional preference and/or sexual orientation, public assistance status, disability, age, national origin, veteran status, or political opinions, is prohibited." Note that sexual orientation is defined by the university in such a way as to also protect gender identity and gender expression.
If you have experienced bias, discrimination, and/or harassment at the University of Minnesota, please use this form to report it.

Compensation
For Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 there are opportunities for volunteering and/or research credit. I currently do not have funding to pay undergrads, but I will be seeking this funding.

Contact
If you are interested, email me at GOLDS306@UMN.EDU to set up a time to discuss opportunities.

Learning Objectives
Through volunteering on this project you will learn how to care for plants in the greenhouse, censusing techniques and data management skills, crossing schemes for genetic experiments, and get an idea what it is like to perform crosses in the greenhouse. You should also learn a bit about the biology and evolution of plants. We will also read some papers as a group, and you will have the opportunity to try your hand at analyzing some data if you are interested.

Expanded Opportunities
Even the greenhouse component of this project will generate data. There will be opportunities to learn/develop computer scripting and data analysis skills using R and Aster Models for Life History Analysis. Depending on the abundance of flowering heads, there may also be mini-project possibilities.

Optional Background Readings
If you want some readings to give you a background in the kind of research that this project entails, I recommend the following. Note that you don't need to read these before we meet, but we will likely discuss them over the course of your volunteering:

1) McKay et al. 2005. "How local is local?" - A review of practical and conceptual issues in the genetics of restoration. Restoration Ecology. 13(3): 432-440.
This paper will give an idea of local adaptation research and issues.

2) Etterson & Shaw. 2001. Constraint to adaptive evolution in response to global warming. Science. 294: 151-154.
This paper will give an idea of the potential to adapt.

3) Wagenius. 2004. Style persistence, pollen limitation, and seed set in the common prairie plant Echinacea angustifolia (Asteraceae). International Journal of Plant Science. 165(4): 595-603.
This paper will give you an idea of the reproductive system in the aster family, and thus some idea of how we will be performing pollinations.

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