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.

Summer Research

During summer 2019, the Kolenkow-Reitz fellowship provides research support for Carleton students working with non-Carleton science and math faculty at another institution during the summer 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 ($470/week for full time work) for up to 10 weeks during summer. Additional expenses up to $500 can be requested to help defray travel or research supply expenses.  Note that students must work full time in order to qualify. More details are available in the application form.

Application Deadline: 5:00 PM on Friday, March 15, 2019

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.

How to apply to do research in the Biology Department

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, some links to summer undergraduate research opportunities available at other institutions can be found at the Biology Summer REUs and Internships page.

Biology Faculty research descriptions and applications

Rika Anderson (Not accepting new students for winter/spring/summer 2019)

Dr. Anderson is an oceanographer and astrobiologist. The Anderson Lab uses next-generation sequencing tools 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.

Brielle Bjorke (Not accepting new students for Winter/Spring 2019)

Brielle Bjorke is a developmental neurobiologist with a biochemistry background investigating the development of circuitry that directs eye movement. Current research examines critical time points during extraocular muscle innervation in the chick model organism and the development of circuitry that regulates the optokinetic reflex in zebrafish.  Both models lend to undergraduate research into potential teratogenic agents that predispose to eye misalignment, termed strabismus (commonly called lazy eye) in humans.

Dan Hernandez (Now accepting summer 2019 applications for research in collaboration with Mark McKone. Applications are due on 12 February.)

Dr. Hernandez is an ecosystem ecologist researching the effects of changes in plant communities (from disturbance, herbivory, and loss of biodiversity) on carbon and nutrient cycling in savannas and grasslands. Current research pursuits of the Hernandez lab includes investigating the consequences of nitrogen deposition and cattle grazing on serpentine grasslands in California and the role of mammalian herbivores in the structure and function of restored prairies in the Arb.

Fernan Jaramillo (Not accepting new students for Summer 2019).

Dr. Jaramillo is a neurobiologist interested in sensory systems. His work focuses on the hair cell, the mechanosensory receptor of the auditory, vestibular, and lateral line systems. Current research interests of the Jaramillo Lab include the study of mechanoelectrical transduction, molecular motors in the hair cell, the role of noise in sensory processing, and the physiology of synaptic transmission.

Mark McKone  (Now accepting summer 2019 applications for research in collaboration with Dan Hernández. Applications are due on 12 February.)

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

Raka Mitra (Not accepting new students for Winter/Spring/Summer 2019). In order to work in the Mitra lab, students must have taken Cell Biology. Those students who have done so and are interested in Fall 2019 research opportunities should contact Raka by email).

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 accepting new students for Winter/Spring/Summer 2019)

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 accepting new students for the 2018-19 academic year or summer of 2019. Please revisit this page for Fall 2019 opportunities.)

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. 

Rou-Jia Sung  (Not accepting new students for winter, spring, or summer 2019. Please visit Dr. Sung’s website for opportunities for Fall 2019.)

Dr. Sung is molecular biochemist interested in the regulation of protein function. Her lab combines techniques from cell biology, molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and structural biology to study the modulation of ionotropic receptor function by auxiliary proteins, with the goal of understanding how problems in receptor regulation are related to different disease states. Current projects are focused on understanding the regulation of AMPA receptors by the ly-6 protein family.

Debby Walser-Kuntz (Not accepting new students for the 2018-19 academic year or summer of 2019. Please revisit this page for Fall 2019 opportunities.)

Dr. Walser-Kuntz is an immunologist interested in the potential impact of the environment on the immune system.  The Walser-Kuntz Lab is currently exploring how diet and a common plastic component, bisphenol A, alter immune cell responses. Current projects utilize techniques such as the ELISA, real-time PCR, and fluorescence microscopy, and students gain experience working in relevant animal model systems including zebrafish and mice.

Jennifer Wolff (Not accepting new students for the 2018-19 Academic year or Summer 2019. Please revisit this page for Fall 2019 opportunities.)

Jennifer 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. During summer 2018, students will work on projects including molecular cloning and analysis of fluorescent transgene expression in neurons, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, and ChIP-qPCR.  Students in the Wolff lab work on projects including molecular cloning and analysis of fluorescent transgene expression in neurons.

Stephan Zweifel (Not accepting students in Summer of 2019)

Dr. Zweifel, a geneticist and molecular biologist, is interested in examining the replication and segregation of mitochondrial DNA in the yeast S. cerevisiae. The Zweifel Lab is interested in identifying and characterizing the nuclear genes responsible for the proper transmission of the mitochondrial genome.