NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates Opportunity: Modeling Salinity-Driven Biogeochemical Fluxes in Shallow Coastal Lagoons

This project examines the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function to better understand ecosystem stability or resiliency during environmental change. Given that microorganisms are the foundation of ecosystem processes, we have been focused on understanding the environmental cues that drive temporal variation of the microbial community (abundance and activity) and the effect on ecosystem resiliency following environmental disturbance. We have been testing our hypotheses in a small lagoon on San Salvador Island, The Bahamas.

REU opportunity: Open February 4, 2016

This REU will provide undergraduate students the opportunity to explore potential greenhouse gas feedback loops occurring in this ecosystem and provide data that will be fundamentally synergistic to the overall project. Thus, I am looking for one student that is interested in gaining experience in biological lab work (e.g., nucleic acid extraction, DNA sequencing, quantitative PCR, etc…) and one student that is interested in using computational approaches (e.g., network analysis, ecosystem modeling, etc…) to work at the interface of biology and computer science using biological data to construct predictive ecosystem models. Both undergraduate students would work closely with two graduate students at first (experts in each of the topics mentioned above) and then move toward independent projects. Also, students would be provided the opportunity to gain experience with field data collection at our field site on San Salvador Island.Interested students wanting to apply or learn more about the project should contact Dr. Sean Norman (rsnorman@sc.edu). Students should indicate which project area they are interested in (biological or computational) and email a resume outlining any lab/course experience related to the project and the overall motivation to applying for the position.

Dr Sean Norman
Associate Professor
Director, Molecular Microbial Ecology Laboratory
University of South Carolina
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
921 Assembly Street
Room 401
Columbia, SC 29208