Faculty in the Biology department have active research programs that involve students in mentored, original research projects in the summer and during the academic year. This page contains information to help students get involved in Biology research at Carleton.

Research during the Academic Year

During academic terms, research students working with faculty in Biology receive academic credit. Once a student applies and is accepted into a faculty member’s research group, they may enroll in BIOL394 (Student-Faculty Research in Biology) by filling out the BIOL394 form.

Biology Faculty research descriptions and applications

Rika Anderson 

Dr. Anderson is an oceanographer and astrobiologist. The Anderson Lab uses genomics and bioinformatics approaches to better understand the processes that drive microbial and viral evolution over time and to gain an understanding of how life co-evolves with its environment over time. This includes collaboration with astronomers, geologists, chemists, and atmospheric scientists to ask big-picture questions in astrobiology and oceanography.

Dan Hernandez

(Currently accepting applications for lab research positions for Summer 2024. General information about the lab can be found on his website and the form to apply can be accessed here.)

Dr. Hernández is an ecosystem ecologist studying grassland restoration and management and the ecosystem impacts of regenerative agriculture. His research team (the EcoCarls) investigates the patterns of carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling, the ecological role of grassland herbivores, and the ecosystem impacts of management strategies to control invasive species. He collaborates with Professor Mark McKone on projects in the Carleton Arboretum.

Amanda Hund

(Currently accepting applications for a lab research position for Spring Term and Summer 2024. General information about the lab can be found on her research website and the form to apply here.)

Dr Hund is an evolutionary ecologist interested in the interactions between hosts and parasites. Her lab studies how parasites shape host evolution, immunity, and behavior, and how hosts in turn shape parasite biology and transmission. This includes work with swallows, butterflies, and threespine stickleback fish and often involves fieldwork. Dr. Hund is currently starting up a new project studying parasite transmission with stickleback fish, copepods, and common loons on Vancouver Island. 

Mark McKone

(Currently accepting applications for research positions for late summer and Fall Term of 2024. Applications are due by 26 April 2024.  More information and an application form can be found here.)

Dr. McKone is an evolutionary ecologist whose research focuses on the interactions between insects and plants. Particular interests include the pollinator community of prairie composites and the evolutionary impact of pre-dispersal seed predators.

Raka Mitra

(Not currently accepting students. General information about the lab can be found on her research website. )

Dr. Mitra is a molecular and cellular biologist interested in the interactions between plants and microbes. Her lab studies bacterial pathogens of plant roots with the goal of understanding disease development and plant defense. Current lab projects involve elucidating the role of bacterial effector proteins in pathogenesis of tomato plants.

Mike Nishizaki

(Not currently accepting students. Applications for 2023-24 will be posted later this year. General information about the lab can be found on his research website.)

Dr. Nishizaki is an aquatic biologist interested in the interaction between organisms and their physical environment. Current research projects use marine/freshwater invertebrates to examine biological responses (e.g., behavior, respiration, gene expression) to fluctuating environmental conditions. Projects typically involve some combination of field work, lab work, computer modeling, and aquarium/animal care.

Matt Rand

(Not currently accepting students. Please contact Matt if you are interested in working in the lab in a future term. General information about the lab can be found on his research website).

Dr. Rand, a vertebrate reproductive biologist, studies the hormonal mediation and function of sexually dimorphic traits. Currently the Rand Lab is looking at the role of genes in determining pigment differences in Sceloporus lizards and bullsnakes. 

Rou-Jia Sung

(Not currently accepting students. Please email or visit the lab website for research opportunities.)

Dr. Sung is a molecular biochemist interested in the regulation of protein function. Her lab combines techniques from cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, protein biochemistry, and structural biology to study the function of the ly6 protein family (a novel family of regulatory proteins that share structural similarities with alpha neurotoxins) with the goal of understanding the role of ly6 proteins in potentially modulating neuronal function in C. elegans. Current projects are focused on understanding expression and function of ly6 proteins in endogenous systems (C. elegans) and recombinant systems (E. coli).

Debby Walser-Kuntz 

(Not currently accepting students. Please contact Debby if you are interested in working in the lab in a future term.)

Dr. Walser-Kuntz is an immunologist interested in the impact of the environment on the immune system.  The Walser-Kuntz Lab is currently exploring how the common plastic component, bisphenol A, alters immune cell responses. Current projects utilize techniques such as the ELISA, real-time PCR, and fluorescence microscopy.

Jennifer Wolff

(Not currently accepting students. Please contact Jenn if you are interested in working in the lab in a future term.).

Dr. Wolff’s lab uses classic and molecular genetic techniques to study how neuronal fates are specified by transcription factors, using the nematode C. elegans as our model system. Students in the Wolff lab work on projects including molecular cloning and analysis of fluorescent transgene expression in neurons, mutant analysis, and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

Stephan Zweifel

(Not currently accepting students. Please contact Stephan if you are interested in working in the lab in a future term. General information about the lab can be found on his research website.)

Dr. Zweifel, a geneticist and molecular biologist, studies the replication and segregation of mitochondrial DNA in the yeast S. cerevisiae. The identification and characterization of the nuclear genes responsible for the proper transmission of the mitochondrial genome involves classical genetic techniques as well as current tools in molecular biology and bioinformatics. Another ongoing project is focused on developing DNA markers to ascertain the genetic diversity among threatened species of reptiles.

Winter Break Research

During winter breaks, the Kolenkow-Reitz fellowship provides research support for Carleton students working with non-Carleton science and math faculty at another institution during the break. These research opportunities are intended to encourage Carleton students’ development as scientists and their exploration of mathematics and the sciences as a possible career.

Awards fund student stipends ($500/week for full time work) for up to 3 weeks during winter break. Additional expenses up to $150 can be requested to help defray travel or research supply expenses. Note that students must work full time in order to qualify and that a GPA of 3.0 is required in order to apply. Questions? Please contact Paula Stowe.

Other research possibilities

As the number of available research positions in the Biology Department is limited, we also encourage students to apply for other research opportunities. Links to some of these Carleton research opportunities and fellowships can be found on the Math and Science at Carleton research opportunities page. Additionally, links to summer undergraduate research opportunities available at other institutions can be found on the Biology Opportunities page by searching the category Summer REUs & Internships.