Summer NSF-REU 2016. Michelle Gaynor (left) and Vivianna Sanchez (right) conducted NSF funded community phylogenetics research over the summer of 2016 with me at the Univ. of Colorado-Boulder. They each investigated ecological and evolutionary processes underlying plant community structure using occurrence data from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), trait data from the literature and online databases, and DNA sequence data that they either generated themselves or downloaded from GenBank. They both presented the results of their research at the annual Botanical Society of America meetings in Savannah, GA.
University of Colorado Biological Sciences Initiative. Khoa Nguyen, Jessica Persinger, and William Weaver conducted independent research over the past several years with me. All of them were also independently funded by Univ. of Colorado Bioscience Undergraduate Research Skills and Training grants designed to introduce undergraduate students to research. They have all presented their work to peers and the scientific community at the annual Biosciences Initiative Undergraduate Research Symposium at CU-Boulder.
Jessica and William conducted a study on the phylogenetic community structure of plant species at sites surveyed by the National Ecological Observatory Network to investigate Darwin's Naturalization Conundrum about species invasions (are invasive species distantly or closely related to resident species?). Jessica was awarded a Research Experience for Undergraduates fellowship with Mitch Cruzan at Portland State Univ. for the summer of 2016, and has since started Masters research at PSU in evolutionary ecology.
Portland, OR. He is also helping us create a stand-alone program to measure phenotypic data from herbarium specimens using machine learning approaches. This Fall, Will will be exploring research opportunities for graduate school to continue pursuing his interests in computational approaches to investigating ecological questions.
Khoa has been conducting a phylogeographic investigation of L. tridentata and its South American sister species, L. divaricata, using chloroplast DNA sequences. He presented his research as the BSI Student Research Symposium in 2016 and 2017, and is conducting independent research at the Univ. of Colorado Medical Center this summer.
University of Colorado High School Student Research. Kaixin Cui, a local high school student, conducted research with me to resolve the phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships among species in the genus Cestrum (Solanaceae). She amplified and sequenced plastid and nuclear genes, created concatenated sequence alignments, and performed parsimony and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses. A major part of her research was to amplify the single-copy nuclear gene WAXY, which involved designing new primers and troubleshooting PCR protocols.