Science and Research Office

Joan Toohey
Director
Olin-Rice 271
651-696-6027


Rebecca Hoye
Chemistry Professor & Chair
Olin-Rice 390
651-696-6252


Liz Jansen
Biology Professor
Olin-Rice 220
651-696-6247

Faculty Descriptions

Biology

Faculty Name: Professor Lin Aanonsen

Department: Biology

Title of Research: Project 1: Elucidating the role of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) in spinal processing of persistent pain in a mouse model of peripheral inflammation. Project 2: MHRI-Young Researchers

Description: Project 1: Research in my lab is focused on the spinal molecular mechanisms underlying persistent/chronic pain in a model of peripheral inflammation in mice.  Student collaborators are engaged in all aspects of the research, which encompasses behavioral to molecular studies.  The project I plan to focus on this summer involves investigating the function a type of neural cell adhesion molecule, called PSA-NCAM, in the spinal processing of persistent pain.  We will use pharmacological tools as well as immunohistochemical and Western blot techniques to determine the spinal distribution and changes in proteins and other molecules that interact with PSA-NCAM.  We will also expand our knockdown studies using spinally administered siRNA directed at the enzymes that polysialyate NCAM, in order to better elucidate the role that PSA-NCAM plays in the induction of persistent pain.  Ultimately, my hope is that some of our research findings may help lead to novel therapeutic approaches to the treatment and/or prevention of chronic pain in humans and other animals. 

Students should meet with me to discuss their research interests before applying, have completed Genetics (BIOL260), Cell Biology (BIOL265), Cell Biology & Genetics Lab (BIOL255) and ideally, BIOL367 Human Physiology or another upper-level biology course.

    Since mice will be used in these studies, it is important you are comfortable with use of animals in biomedical research. We will spend time discussing the ethics around the use of animals and each student will receive individual instruction in the humane use and handling of animals. Summer research will be conducted primarily in June and July. Stipends will be contingent on obtaining SFSR funds.

    Project 2:  Young Researchers will work together in the lab of Professor Lin Aanonsen and the lab of another science professor at Macalester. In addition to the summer research, participants will meet several times before the end of the spring term, as well as in the fall for preparation and reflection. Young Researchers are rising sophomores or juniors and have little or no research experience. MHRI-Young Researchers info


      Faculty Name: Professor Sarah Boyer

      Department: Biology

      Title of Research: Biodiversity and Evolution of Invertebrate Animals

      Description:  I am interested in the diversity, evolution, and biogeography of invertebrate animals.  My work is driven by questions such as: How many species are there?  How are they related?  And how can we explain their distribution in space?

      This year, I will hire two students from May 19 through July 25.  We will begin by spending two weeks collecting arachnids in Queensland, Australia – and then return to campus to work in the lab, generating DNA sequence data and scanning electron microscopy images.  Depending on who applies, I may also hire one additional student to work from June 23 through July 25 to assist with lab work.

      Students who travel to Australia with me must be enthusiastic about the joys of the field – working outside, seeing interesting wildlife and scenery  – but you also need to be up for long-haul flights to the southern hemisphere, jet-lag, bugs, mud, rain, tedious leaf-litter sifting, and lots of time in the car.  Students in my lab should also be ready and willing to be meticulous in the molecular lab.  I am most interested in recruiting students whose interests are truly broad, and I will give priority to students who are planning to use the summer research experience as the basis for honors or senior capstone projects. 

      Students should have completed Biology 270: Biodiversity and Evolution before working in my lab.  If you’re interested, please contact me directly in addition to applying for positions electronically. 


      Faculty Name: Professor Devavani Chatterjea

      Department: Biology/Community and Global Health

      Title of Research: The Intersection of Allergies and Chronic Pain

      Description: Pain and allergies are serious global health challenges both affecting quality of life and well-being of those affected. The intersections of these two pathological processes are poorly understood but clinical and epidemiological studies suggest that they are critically connected.  Understanding the cross-talk between the immune and nervous systems is essential in this regard. We are investigating the roles of tissue mast cells (a type of white blood cell) in the intersection of allergy and pain pathways. Students will work collaboratively with me and with each other to learn techniques (animal handling, surgery, injections, thermal pain assays, tissue processing, tissue culture, cytokine and histamine ELISAs, real time quantitative PCR, statistical analysis, neutrophil activity), optimize assays, design experiments and analyze findings. Intensive reading/discussion of relevant literature, working lab meetings and journal clubs are an important part of our summer activities. Summer projects are often the basis for academic year research and/or honors projects.

      • If you have not spoken with me about your interest in the lab and/or interest in the Research in Immunology course (designed around active and upcoming lab projects), this is an essential first step. 
      • You must have completed cell biology, genetics and the cell/gen laboratory courses. Immunology coursework is helpful but not required. Prior research experience and/or a “research in” class in biology is beneficial (particularly “Research in immunology”). Experience working with mice is helpful.
      • If you do not have prior experience or the research course does not work for you, you may have the option of registering for a 1 credit independent study in my research lab during the spring semester to prepare for the summer.
      • The typical research schedule is May 20-July 31 but there is usually some flexibility with duration and timing.
      • Interested students will be expected to apply for stipend support through intramural programs – Serie, SFSR, Beltmann etc.   

      Faculty Name: Professor Mark Davis

      Department: Biology

      Title of Research: Project 1)Population dynamics and community effects of garlic mustard at the Ordway Field Station  Project 2) Is raccoon predation of nests creating population sinks of ovenbirds in forest fragments? Project 3) To what extent is the Ordway oak forest sequestering carbon?

      Description: I

      Project 1.  In summer 2010, we (myself, Jerald Dosch, Mike Anderson, and Mac students) began a long-term study of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), a non-native species that is spreading through the oak forest at Ordway.  We will continue this study this coming summer.  In summer 2014 we will continue the ongoing monitoring of garlic mustard and other species to document the dynamics of its establishment and spread and also to try to discern the extent to which garlic mustard is affecting other plants. 

      Project 2.  In summer 2012, we conducted a pilot study on nest predation and discovered that predation of artificial ground nests in the Ordway forest experienced very high predation rates, with raccoons being the likely primary predator.  In summer 2013, we conducted a much more extensive study to document predation rates of ground nests of the Ovenbird at four different sites in Dakota County.   The results again showed that raccoons were responsible for most of the predation and that proximity to residential areas was associated with higher predation rates, while proximity to industrial sites were associated with lower predation rates.  However, the small number of sites prevents any decisive conclusions.  In summer 2014 we will expand the study to include more sites.  We also plan to try to find actual ovenbird nests and document their survival rates.

      Project 3.  In the 2010-2011 academic year we identified and tagged over 600 trees at Ordway.  We have been monitoring these trees ever since in an effort to understand how abiotic factors such as slope and aspect might impact tree growth.  This project is part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded “big data” collaborative research network called EREN (Ecological Research as Education Network; http://erenweb.org/).  In summer 2014 we will map and re-measure the DBH of all trees, calculate their growth as change in DBH and increase in biomass, monitor carbon sequestration, and track mortality.  We will try to determine whether or not these measures of growth and mortality are correlated with biotic and abiotic site characteristics.  Once again our Ordway data will be entered in an online database for comparison with data from across the continent.

      Three students will be hired.

      This research will be conducted at Macalester’s Ordway field station, located 17 miles from campus in Inver Grove Heights.  Student researchers will be housed on site at Ordway.  (Living at Ordway is a requirement.)  The students will be part of a summer Ordway research community consisting of four to five students, two faculty members (Davis and Dosch) and a staff member (Mike Anderson).  All students will be living on site at no charge (students must purchase their own food).

       Research will begin on May 14 and will end on July 22 (10 weeks). 

       Students need to be able to work up to 8 hours in a hilly and forested landscape, sometimes under adverse conditions, e.g., heat, rain, and bugs.

      Students must have taken Ecology.

       For answers to additional questions, contact Mark Davis, Jerald Dosch, or Mike Anderson.


      Faculty Name: Professor Dan Hornbach

      Department: Environmental Studies and Biology

      Title of Research: The Effects of Riparian Vegetation on Stream Metabolism

      Description: Two of the most fundamental ecosystem processes are photosynthesis (or gross primary productivity, GPP) and respiration (or ecosystem respiration, ER) and they have been proposed as key ecoindicators of ecosystem function because they integrate many components of the stream ecosystem and determine the amount and nature of the energy available to the aquatic community. This, in combination with land use and climate change that will undoubtedly lead to alterations in these processes, makes it imperative that we understand the factors that control them.

       We will use daily variations in stream oxygen concentration to calculate GPP and ER. We will make these measurements at two sites in Valley Creek near Afton, MN. Much of this first summer will be devoted to developing the full suite of methods needed to make these calculations.

      Term of employment - 10 weeks during the May 27 – July 25, 2013 period

      Free housing on campus available

      Senior or honors projects available

      Students with an interest in field work and laboratory work are especially encouraged

      There could be two positions, but they are totally dependent on the successful funding of an NSF grant that has been submitted. If the grant is not funded, there will be no positions available.


      Faculty Name: Professor Mary Montgomery

      Department: Biology

      Title of Research: Mechanisms of Gene Silencing

      Description: RNA interference (RNAi) is the gene-specific response of a cell or organism to the presence of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). The typical response is the destruction of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) that have a sequence that matches the dsRNA. Most multicellular organisms use RNAi to disable certain kinds of viruses and transposable elements (“jumping genes”) but also to process and regulate some of their own genes (such as microRNAs). The RNAi response can be triggered by repetitive sequences in the genome, which can result in not only silencing of the repeats but also any other genes with similar sequences, a process known as co-suppression. I am interested in exploring the relationship between RNAi and the mechanism of co-suppression, which can involve both transcriptional and postrancriptional mechanisms of gene silencing. We use the model organism C. elegans for these studies but may consider studying similar processes in vertebrate animals as well. We are currently carrying out research that involves two strains of C. elegans, one in which a single copy of an integrated GFP transgene is robustly expressed in the worm, and one in which the same version of the gene is silenced due to the presence of a repetitive array carrying similar sequences. RT-qPCR and ChIP-qPCR experiments that we have conducted over the last few years have demonstrated that the single-copy gene is transcriptionally active, yet GFP protein does not accumulate to detectable levels, suggesting that RNAi or a related mechanism is blocking protein synthesis. Current work in the lab suggests that a group of genes called nrde (nuclear RNAi-deficient) are involved in silencing in our model, perhaps by blocking transcription downstream of the initiation site. We are using a combination of genetic, molecular, and biochemical approaches to uncover the mechanisms by which repetitive sequences lead to gene silencing.

      I am hoping to have 2 students working with me in Summer 2014 although participation is contingent upon funding. Interested students may contact me at any time but first priority will be given to students currently enrolled in Research in Molecular Biology or who have taken other upper level courses with me.


      Faculty Name: Professor Marcos Ortega

      Department: Biology

      Title of Research: Structure and Biochemical Studies of Viral Assembly

      Description:Research in my lab focuses on how double-stranded DNA viruses initiate replication using a bacterial virus as a model system.  Double-stranded DNA viruses utilize an enzyme called terminase to package viral DNA into a viral capsid shell.  This process is called DNA packaging and it begins the viral replication process.  My lab seeks to understand how DNA packaging occurs by studying this process at the molecular level utilizing X-ray crystallography, biophysics, and biochemical techniques.  Results will elucidate how DNA packaging occurs in the double-stranded DNA viruses, including the eukaryotic Adenovirus and Epstein-Barr Virus, which can cause cell transformation and cancer.  Research in my lab will focus on three areas:

      1. Cloning, expression, and purification of viral proteins involved in DNA packaging. 
      2. Crystal screening, data collection, and model building to solve structures of proteins involved in DNA packaging
      3. Biochemical and biophysical characterization of proteins involved in DNA packaging.  The studies will include DNA binding studies and enzymatic assays to characterize protein function.

      I will be taking three to four students depending on funding.  Please arrange a meeting with me prior to applying for work in my lab.  I seek students who are self-motivated and not afraid to fail. 


      Faculty Name: Professor Kristi Curry Rogers

      Department: Biology and Geology

      Title of Research: Growth in Living and Fossil Vertebrates

      Description: My research is centered upon the dynamic intersection between living and extinct organisms, and includes projects that are focused on the evolution and biology of extinct dinosaurs, and upon understanding the record of life history provided by bone tissue. I utilize bone tissue as a tool to develop qualitative and quantitative views of growth rates, longevity, life history strategy, and microstructural character evolution in both living and extinct dinosaurs.

      Students working with Professor Curry Rogers have already been selected for summer 2014. 

      Chemistry

      Faculty Name: Professor Ron Brisbois

      Department: Chemistry

      Title of Research: Organic Synthesis and Synthetic Methodology

      Description: Of the many functions chemistry performs in its role as the central science, deliberate synthesis of difficult to obtain naturally occurring compounds and intentional creation of new materials are arguably the most broadly important. In my lab, students have been key contributors to (a) the development of new synthetic methods, (b) total synthesis of small molecules for chemical genetics studies in Arabidopsis thaliana (in collaboration with Paul Overvoorde), (c) synthesis and characterization of cyclopentadienyl-Co-cyclobutadienyl (CpCoCb) derived cyclophanes and dehydroannulenes, (d) design of ligands for constructing supramolecular self-assemblies, chiral catalyst candidates, and fluorophores as potential dyes and/or light-emitting materials, and (e) development of synthetic methodologies (currently) focused on 1,2,3-triazole synthesis. Typically, students enter my lab after their second year, after having CHEM 211-212. The exact start date of summer research has yet to be determined, although typically we start after graduation but before the end of May. Please feel welcome to schedule an appointment if you would like to discuss research in more detail.


      Faculty Name: Professor Paul Fischer

      Department: Chemistry

      Title of Research: Organometallic Synthesis Research

      Description: The Fischer research group synthesizes organometallic complexes (substances with metal-carbon bonding) that exhibit interesting reactivity for organic chemistry applications.  Target molecules are extremely reactive; specialized laboratory techniques for exclusion of air and moisture must be mastered to conduct the work. This research requires meticulous attention to detail due to the sensitivity of the complexes. Group members regularly use IR and NMR spectroscopy, and are exposed to X-ray crystallographic methods completed at the University of Minnesota.

       Specific projects for summer 2014 will be devised during the spring semester, but the work will center on the syntheses of new complexes of chromium, molybdenum and tungsten. These complexes will contain carbon monoxide as supporting ligands, in addition to other ligands from which the novel properties/reactivity of the complexes will be derived.

      Prof. Fischer is planning to lead a summer 2014 research group of three students. One rising junior chemistry major will be returning, so two positions are open.  Please schedule an appointment with Prof. Fischer to learn more about his research program before applying via the ESRA page. All three student stipends will be funded by two external research grants (National Science Foundation and the Dreyfus Foundation).

      Recent graduates who worked in my laboratory are currently in chemistry graduate programs at UC-Berkeley, Columbia University, and Emory University. In addition, two former research students recently completed M.D. degrees even though these Fischer research projects do not have immediate connections to the medical field.


      Faculty Name: Professor Rebecca Hoye

      Department: Chemistry

      Title of Research: Synthesis of Biologically Active Molecules

      Professor Hoye will not be accepting student applications for the summer of 2014.


      Faculty Name: Professor Keith Kuwata

      Department: Chemistry

      Title of Research: Computational Modeling of Reactive Intermediates in Oxidation Reactions

      Description: The reactions of hydrocarbons with oxidants in the lower atmosphere have a significant impact on human health and global climate change.  However, these reactions are extremely complicated.  In many cases only a small fraction of the final products are known, and even when product distributions are known, the mechanisms leading to product formation are poorly understood.  Identifying and characterizing hydrocarbon oxidation reactive intermediates like carbonyl oxides, dioxiranes, and peroxides are at the heart of constructing valid atmospheric chemistry mechanisms.  However, these intermediates, when formed in the atmosphere, contain tens of kilocalories of energy per mole, which enable them to isomerize and decompose faster than they can be measured experimentally.  Students in my computational laboratory play an essential role in providing insights that experiment cannot provide.  My students use computers to apply the equations of quantum mechanics to carbonyl oxides and other short-lived intermediates.  Calculations generate both quantitative and qualitative insight.  Prior training in computer programming or quantum mechanics is not required.  What is required is an ability to think about the conformational preferences and reactivity of molecules.

      Students should have completed the second semester of Organic Chemistry (Chem 212) before starting work in my lab.

      Students typically work for ten weeks.  Each student will be required to present his or her research at the Midwest Undergraduate Computational Chemistry Conference.  The next meeting will be at Iowa State University from July 27-30.

      I can provide opportunities to work in my lab this summer only if I receive National Science Foundation funding.  I have submitted a grant proposal, but I will not find out the funding decision until March at the earliest.


      Faculty Name: Professor Katy Splan

      Department: Chemistry

      Title of Research: Research in Bioinorganic Chemistry

      Description: The field of bioinorganic chemistry studies the role of metal ions and metal-containing compounds in biology and medicine. Research in my lab focuses on two facets of bioinorganic chemistry: 1.) Metals such as copper, zinc, and iron are functional in many biological processes and are essential for life, but at high concentrations display significant toxicity. Our research studies the effects of copper on protein and peptide function. In this work, you will gain experience in protein and peptide purification and characterization of metal-binding via spectroscopic methods. 2.) Porphyrins comprise a class of synthetic compounds that mimic the function of the natural pigments heme and chlorophyll. We synthesize new porphyrins that exhibit enhanced light-harvesting properties that might prove useful for applications including solar energy conversion and biological imaging.

      Professor Splan will not be accepting student applications for the summer of 2014.


      Faculty Name: Professor Tom Varberg

      Department: Chemistry

      Title of Research:  Molecular Spectroscopy of Transition Metal Free Radicals

      Description: The Varberg research group uses visible-wavelength lasers to explore the electronic structure of small, gas-phase molecules that contain a transition metal atom. Such molecules are free radicals, with unpaired electrons that produce interesting and challenging spectra to record and analyze. We are particularly interested in understanding the bonding and electronic structure of these systems. Recent work in the group has focused on the molecules ReO, TaO, AuF, TaH and TaS with a particular focus on how the unpaired electrons interact with the nuclear spins (hyperfine structure)—student co-authored publications describing this work can be found on the board outside my research lab (OR365). This coming summer we will likely be working on spectra of AuS and/or TaH. We will also be setting up a new system for laser frequency calibration based on the sub-Doppler spectrum of molecular iodine. The technology we utilize is state of the art, and students in my group will learn much about modern signal acquisition, spectral assignment, data fitting, and the operation of modern lasers. These skills are transferable to different areas within chemical physics and physical chemistry. The work is basic research (in contrast with applied research) with a goal of understanding the fundamental properties of molecules. Generally speaking, students who work in my group should be those who enjoy the mathematical/physical side of the chemistry discipline.

       For the 2014 summer, I will be hiring one or two students, with preference given to chemistry majors. Your summer stipend will be paid by a grant from the National Science Foundation. For more information, you should talk to Prof. Varberg. In your application, you should indicate how a summer research experience in physical chemistry/chemical physics supports your eventual career goals.

      The dates of employment will be May 20 – July 25, 2014 (ten weeks). We get started right after Commencement!

      Environmental Studies

      Faculty Name: Professor Louisa Bradtmiller

      Department: Environmental Studies

      Title of Research: Paleoclimate and Oceanography Research Using Deep Sea Sediments

      Description:
      Prof. Bradtmiller will be conducting paleoclimate research with 1-2 students over the summer. Student researchers will use several different chemical analyses to characterize ocean sediments spanning the past ~20,000 years, and will interpret the results in the context of climatic and oceanographic changes. The ideal student(s) would have some background (including lab experience) in any of the following: chemistry, biology, geology, climate science. Please contact Prof. Bradtmiller directly for more details.


      Faculty Name: Professor Dan Hornbach

      Department: Environmental Studies and Biology

      Title of Research: The Effects of Riparian Vegetation on Stream Metabolism

      Description: Two of the most fundamental ecosystem processes are photosynthesis (or gross primary productivity, GPP) and respiration (or ecosystem respiration, ER) and they have been proposed as key ecoindicators of ecosystem function because they integrate many components of the stream ecosystem and determine the amount and nature of the energy available to the aquatic community. This, in combination with land use and climate change that will undoubtedly lead to alterations in these processes, makes it imperative that we understand the factors that control them.

      We will use daily variations in stream oxygen concentration to calculate GPP and ER. We will make these measurements at two sites in Valley Creek near Afton, MN. Much of this first summer will be devoted to developing the full suite of methods needed to make these calculations.

      Term of employment - 10 weeks during the May 27 – July 25, 2013 period

      Free housing on campus available

      Senior or honors projects available

      Students with an interest in field work and laboratory work are especially encouraged

      There could be two positions, but they are totally dependent on the successful funding of an NSF grant that has been submitted. If the grant is not funded, there will be no positions available.


      Faculty Name: Professor Christie Manning

      Department: Environmental Studies/Psychology

      Title of Research: Climate Change Adaption in St Paul

      Description: Prof Phadke and Prof Manning will be hiring a team of 4 students this summer to implement a climate change adaptation planning project. Our research is aimed at assessing urban climate vulnerabilities and impacts at the neighborhood scale. We will develop and test a model for inclusive community deliberation that engages racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse residents in thinking about how their everyday lives will be affected by climate changes.

      Our work brings together three partners: Macalester College, the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Saint Paul Mayor’s Office. Our findings will contribute to the formation of the City of Saint Paul’s climate adaptation plan. 

      Research assistants will organize 3 local conference events, producing background materials for local residents, collecting data on site during and after events, and writing a follow up final report for local stakeholders. Students will be interacting with a local advisory board comprised of science and policy experts.   

      Ideal candidates will have background in environmental policy and energy issues and will have taken Environmental Politics and Policy and/or Psychology of Sustainability. Other ES courses may be relevant substitutes. The candidate MUST be dependable, able to work well in a collaborative research group and have good oral and written communication skills.  Web design, graphics and/or GIS experience is desired.

      Please include phone numbers and e-mail addresses for two references with your application. Ideally, references will be Macalester faculty and staff who are familiar with your work

      Pay: $3200-$4000 summer stipend for 8-10 fulltime weeks (beginning after Memorial Day through the end of July – but final dates TBA)

       Application Deadline: February 1, 2014


      Faculty Name: Professor  Marianne Milligan

      Department: Environmental Studies/Linguistics

      Title of Research: Indigenous Knowledge: Ways of Representing Nature

      Description: Human languages have different ways of framing and organizing information about the natural world. This is reflected in many aspects of language including folk taxonomies that categorize plants and animal species, ethnobotony, traditional storytelling, ways of reckoning time, talking about the landscape, and discourse structures. I’m interested in examining ways of talking about nature (or ways that the natural world get encoded in language) within endangered languages, especially local indigenous languages such as Menominee, Ojibwe, and Dakota.  Student projects will fit within this larger scope but will be more narrow in focus and can range from linguistic analysis of discourse structures to more anthropological analyses.

      Interested students should contact me to discuss potential involvement in the project.  The ideal student will have taken a course in linguistics (or a course that covers linguistic anthropology) and have a strong interest in environmental studies.


      Faculty Name: Professor Roopali Phadke

      Department: Environmental Studies

      Title of Research: Climate Change Adaption in St Paul

      Description: Prof Phadke and Prof Manning will be hiring a team of 4 students this summer to implement a climate change adaptation planning project. Our research is aimed at assessing urban climate vulnerabilities and impacts at the neighborhood scale. We will develop and test a model for inclusive community deliberation that engages racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse residents in thinking about how their everyday lives will be affected by climate changes.

      Our work brings together three partners: Macalester College, the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Saint Paul Mayor’s Office. Our findings will contribute to the formation of the City of Saint Paul’s climate adaptation plan. 

      Research assistants will organize 3 local conference events, producing background materials for local residents, collecting data on site during and after events, and writing a follow up final report for local stakeholders. Students will be interacting with a local advisory board comprised of science and policy experts.   

      Ideal candidates will have background in environmental policy and energy issues and will have taken Environmental Politics and Policy and/or Psychology of Sustainability. Other ES courses may be relevant substitutes. The candidate MUST be dependable, able to work well in a collaborative research group and have good oral and written communication skills.  Web design, graphics and/or GIS experience is desired.

      Please include phone numbers and e-mail addresses for two references with your application. Ideally, references will be Macalester faculty and staff who are familiar with your work

      Pay: $3200-$4000 summer stipend for 8-10 fulltime weeks (beginning after Memorial Day through the end of July – but final dates TBA)

      Geology

      Faculty Name: Professor Kelly MacGregor

      Department: Geology

      Title of Research: Growth in Living and Fossil Vertebrates

      Description

      Understanding controls on past climate variability is key to assessing potential future environmental change. The climate history of the northern Rocky Mountains is known primarily from lacustrine paleoecological records that are widely spaced in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. There are few lacustrine records from the northern Rockies spanning the entire Holocene and therefore our knowledge of the timing of major climate shifts in the region is incomplete. I have collected several lake cores in Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, and lower Grinnell Lake, all of which are located downstream of Grinnell Glacier in the Many Glacier region of Glacier National Park, Montana.  A continuous core from Swiftcurrent Lake spanning ~13,000 years demonstrates a strong link between climate in the basin and solar forcing on centennial timescales, as well as excellent records of fire history, glacier change, hillslope processes and human impacts in the Park. The cores provide a rich record, and further work this summer in Lake Josephine will yield impressive and complementary data for interpreting climate in the northern Rockies during the Holocene.

       I envision a wide range of possible student projects focused on the environmental, climate, and geomorphic history of Glacier National Park, Montana.  Students will spend 2 weeks in the field (middle-late July) and 2 weeks working at LacCore Laboratory, an NSF-funded research lab at the University of Minnesota. Students for this research in 2014 have already been selected (one student from Macalester, and five students from other institutions). The research is funded by the Keck Foundation and the National Science Foundation.


      Faculty Name: Professor Kristi Curry Rogers

      Department: Biology and Geology

      Title of Research: Growth in Living and Fossil Vertebrates

      Description:  My research is centered upon the dynamic intersection between living and extinct organisms, and includes projects that are focused on the evolution and biology of extinct dinosaurs, and upon understanding the record of life history provided by bone tissue. I utilize bone tissue as a tool to develop qualitative and quantitative views of growth rates, longevity, life history strategy, and microstructural character evolution in both living and extinct dinosaurs.

      Students working with Professor Curry Rogers have already been selected for summer 2014.  

        Breakthrough Collaborative: In addition, Professor Curry Rogers will be hiring 1 or 2 students to teach with the St Paul Breakthrough Collaborative (as a part of Professor Curry Rogers' grant funded research program). Students interested in the Breakthrough Collaborative teaching option should talk with Professor Rogers for information about the application process and should NOT apply via the ESRA website. Eligible candidates for teaching positions:

        • Can be a freshman, sophomore, or junior
        • Priorities are given to younger students
        • Must have taken either BIOL 270 (Biodiversity and Evolution), GEOL 101 (Dinosaurs), or BIOL 112 (Origins)

        Faculty Name: Professor Ray Rogers

        Department: Geology

        Title of Research: Sedimentary Geology, Vertebrate Taphonomy, Paleoecology of Dinosaurs

        Description: My research interests focus on sedimentary geology and vertebrate taphonomy. I am most interested in the reconstruction of ancient terrestrial ecosystems (especially those that were home to dinosaurs). I spend much of my research time exploring the taphonomy of dinosaur-bearing beds in central Montana and regions farther afield (e.g., Madagascar, Argentina).  My students and I are currently studying how vertebrate skeletal debris accumulates to concentrated levels in ancient (and modern) rivers and lakes.  I typically work with 3-5 student researchers during the academic year and summer months.  My research is presently funded by a variety of federal grants (NSF, BLM).

        Students working with Professor Rogers have already been selected for summer 2014.  

        Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

        Faculty Name: Professor Andrew Beveridge

        Department: Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

        Title of Research: MAXIMA REU in Interdisciplinary Mathematics

        Description: MAXIMA is an intensive six week REU program in interdisciplinary mathematics which is a joint effort between Macalester and the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). The program takes place at the IMA, which is located at the University of Minnesota, and is funded by the NSF and the IMA.

        Students will work in teams of four on an open research problem in applied mathematics. In Summer 2014, problems will be posed by University of Minnesota researchers from biostatistics, computer science and electrical  engineering. Each team will be advised by a Macalester MSCS faculty member, and students  also will be mentored by a postdoctoral fellow at the IMA. The program is designed to allow students to experience the excitement of doing research that is relevant to another field. Students will learn how to formulate domain-specific questions in mathematical ways and assimilate the ability to communicate across disciplines. The program will develop mathematical skills and expository argumentation. By the end of the summer, each team will produce a written report, an oral presentation, and a research poster. Project descriptions and the program application are on the MAXIMA website.

        Eligibility

        • Students must be current sophomores and juniors who will be full-time undergraduate students as of September 2014, majoring in mathematics or a related field at a U.S. college or university.
        • Students must have taken multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and at least one upper-level undergraduate courses (and preferably more). Exposure to one of computer science or statistics is also preferred. See the problem descriptions for further background requirements.
        • Students must be fully committed to the REU. Students may not engage in any other course work or employment for the duration of the program.
        • Nine spots are funded by the NSF: these are open to US citizens and permanent residents. Three spots are funded by the IMA: these spots are open to US citizens and permanent residents, and to international students studying at US institutions.

        Faculty Name: Professor Susan Fox

        Department: Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

        Title of Research: Adaptive Robot Navigation: Building Robots That Learn

        Description: Robot technology is increasingly present in our everyday lives, from robot vacuum cleaners to cars that can parallel park themselves, to cars that drive themselves.  Successful robot systems need to exhibit robust behavior: to be predictable and reliable over time.  My current research has focused on image processing to support the robot localization, which is the process of determining where the robot is in the world  The robot lab has several different robots, writing programs that can be used with any of the robots is a current goal.

        Students interested in working with me should come talk with me prior to submitting an application.  Students should have completed Comp 124 at least; preferably Comp 221 as well.  Experience with artificial intelligence is NOT required; training in the tools used to program the robots will be a part of any research collaboration.  Students and I will need to submit a request for funding to the SFSR (Student-Faculty Summer Research) fund at Macalester.


        Faculty Name: Professor Shilad Sen

        Department: Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

        Professor Sen will not be accepting student applications for the summer of 2014.


        Faculty Name: Professor Libby Shoop

        Department: Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

        Title of Research: Parallel Computing Techniques

        Description: Professor Libby Shoop will be conducting research pertaining to parallel computing techniques, especially those that can be used in Computer Science Education.  We will work with interesting hardware and build sophisticated computer systems for use in courses here at Macalester and other colleges and universities.  Please visit Libby in Olin-Rice 232 to find out more and to apply for a summer position.


        Faculty Name: Professor Chad Higdon-Topaz

        Department: Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

        Title of Research: Pattern-Forming Natural Systems: Mathematics, Biology, and Chemistry

        Description: Research in the Topaz group is inspired by the appearance of beautiful, organized patterns across the natural world. Specifically, we study pattern-forming systems in biology and chemistry. Potential projects include modeling, analysis, and computation of (1) biological aggregation patterns such as locust swarms and fish schools, (2) collective movement of cancer cells, and (3) Turing patterns, which appear in certain chemical reactions and which have been hypothesized as the mechanism behind animal coat patterns like zebra stripes.

        The Topaz group’s interdisciplinary research is funded by the National Science Foundation and is carried out in Macalester’s eXperiment, Modeling, Analysis and Computation (XMAC) Laboratory.

        Professor Topaz is not accepting student applications for the summer of 2014.

        Physics and Astronomy

        Faculty Name: Professor John Cannon

        Department: Physics and Astonomy

        Title of Research: The Evolution of Low-Mass Galaxies

        Description: Professor Cannon and his students perform detailed observational studies of nearby, low-mass galaxies. These systems are the most numerous type of extragalactic system in the universe and they play an important role in the formation of structure over cosmic time. During the summer of 2013, Cannon’s research group will work on data acquired for the Survey of HI in Extremely Low-mass Dwarfs (SHIELD).

        • Students are strongly encouraged to talk with Professor Cannon before applying
        • Most students are declared physics majors with an astronomy emphasis, and have taken astronomy courses at the 400 level
        • Starting and ending dates are set by mutual agreement between Cannon and the researchers
        • Cannon’s research program is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundationand they play an important role in the formation of structure over cosmic time.

        Professor Cannon is on sabbatical and is not accepting student applications for summer 2014.


        Faculty Name: Professor James Doyle

        Department: Physics and Astronomy

        Title of Research: Materials Research for Thin Film Solar Cells

        Description: The general area of research is thin film materials science.  Our focus is semiconductor materials used in photovoltaic devices (solar cells).  We deposit the layers using high vacuum methods and the films typically have a thickness of < 1 micron (a human hair is about 50 microns).  The thin films are characterized by measuring their electrical optical properties to determine their suitability for solar cells.  The goal of the work is to optimize the deposition process to produce the best quality films possible.  In our approach we try to understand the details of the physics and chemistry that occurs during deposition and relate these details to the resulting film properties, so that an informed  systematic optimization can be carried out.  The work also has a prominent theoretical and computational component.  The research is very multidisciplinary, using ideas and methods from condensed matter physics, plasma physics, gas transport theory and vacuum science,  and gas phase and surface chemistry.   The work also has a strong applied physics/engineering flavor.

        Professor Doyle is not accepting student applications for the summer of 2014.


        Faculty Name: Professor James Heyman

        Department: Physics and Astronomy

        Title of Research: Ultrafast Spectroscopy of Electronic Materials

        Description:  My research probes the electronic properties of graphene and other materials on sub-picosecond timescales using femtosecond laser spectroscopy.   We can study how materials will behave in future high speed electronic devices with time-resolved optical measurements.  I plan to hire two to four students this summer.  Ongoing projects for in my lab include (1) fabrication and characterization of graphene samples, (2) femtosecond time-resolved conductivity measurements at Macalester, and (3) and time-resolved mid-infrared spectroscopy at the University of Minnesota. I usually take on students who have completed Modern (PHYS-331) and Lab Instrumentation (PHYS-348). Please contact me if you are interested in working in my lab next summer.


        Faculty Name: Professor Tonnis ter Veldhuis

        Department: Physics and Astronomy

        Title of Research: Theoretical Particle Physics

        Description: My interests include the physics of the Higgs boson, the elusive particle predicted to exists by the Standard model and currently being hunted for at the world's most powerful particle accelerators, and the physics of dark matter, the stuff recent observations indicate to be the dominant component of matter in our universe. I also study supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model, scenarios in which our Universe is embedded in a higher dimensional space-time, and mechanisms of dynamical symmetry breaking.

        Interested students should talk to me before filling out the application. A good background in mathematics is required, and it is preferred that students have completed some advanced physics courses. Students with programming experience and an interest in physics are also encouraged to apply. Student hiring will depend on available funding.