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University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

BIODIVERSITY - REU


Dr. Anthony Amend

Dr. Anthony Amend

Research Focus

I am interested in fungal ecology at the community level, particularly the factors that determine community composition, and how that, in turn, impacts community function. My research applies macroecological theory to microbial systems to address theoretical and applied questions with relevance to Hawaiʻi. I am also interested in the natural history and taxonomy of mushrooms in Hawaiʻi.

Potential Projects

  • Studies of fungal communities of hosts and environments, likely based on current work on tree snails, native plants and corals.
  • Design, develop and deploy a prototype for high-throughput fungal culture isolation from marine habitats such as sediments and coral reefs.
  • Isolation and description of fungi associated with Hawaiian liverworts, some of the earliest plants to transition to land.

amend@hawaii.edu


Dr. Rosie Alegado

Dr. Rosie Alegado

Research Focus:

The focus of our research is to understand how bacteria have influenced the evolution of animals and how these interactions impact their ecosystem. Our group’s approach is to study the interaction between choanoflagellates, heterotrophic nanoflagellates which are the closest living relatives of animals, and their microbial community. We have established the colonial choanoflagellate Salpingoeca rosetta and its prey bacterium Algoriphagus as a new system in which to test hypotheses about the evolution of interkingdom signaling. Our goal is to elucidate the nature and function of the microbial signals that elicit morphogenic responses in choanoflagellates and how these signals impact the cell biology of other members of the microbial community.

Potential projects:

  • Exploring bacterial outer membrane vesicles in interkingdom signaling in a variety of animals and ecological contexts.
  • Investigating impact of bacterial sulfonolipid/sphingolipid interkingdom signals on community dynamics
    • modeling changes in microbial community structure under defined nutrient regimes
    • connecting activity of specific microbial assemblages with metabolic and geochemical processes

ralegado@hawaii.edu


Dr. Stuart Donachie

Dr. Stuart Donachie

Research Focus

My lab investigates the diversity and role of prokaryotes and eukaryotes in terrestrial and marine environments. Current projects explore potential relationships between bacteria and marine invertebrates, taxonomy, and genomics.

Potential Projects

  • Microbial diversity in a cooling system's biofilm
  • Description of a novel, moderately thermophilic marine bacterium
  • Cultivated microbes in coral mucus

donachie@hawaii.edu


Dr. Megan Porter

Dr. Megan Porter

Research Focus

My research program is focused on understanding the molecular evolution of visual systems in invertebrates. Specifically, most of my studies investigate crustaceans, including crabs, mantis shrimp, and copepods. My research is integrative, and while it is based in molecular techniques, phylogenetic analyses, and tools such as PCR, I also incorporate studies of ecology, behavior, and physiology into my work for a more comprehensive understanding of visual system evolution.

Potential Projects

  • Characterizing the expression patterns of visual pigments in crustaceans, including mantis shrimp or copepod species
  • Characterizing the opsin genes in native Hawaiian birds

mlporter@hawaii.edu


Dr. Floyd Reed

Dr. Floyd Reed

Research Focus

We are a population genetics lab that combines molecular biology and evolutionary principles. There are two main areas of research interest right now. One is very focused and applied; this is to engineer underdominance (a type of “gene drive” system) in Culex mosquitoes, with a long term goal of being able to transform populations to block disease transmission to endangered Hawaiian birds. The other area is a general interest in the natural history of Hawaiʻi and pursuing various projects to learn more about the evolution species here in Hawaiʻi and across the Indo-Pacific. Currently this includes projects describing sponge (Porifera) and sea urchin (Tripneustes) diversity. We are also involved in teaching genetics and work to develop laboratory teaching models.

Potential Projects

There are a wide-range of potential projects that could be done, so long as it involves genetics in a meaningful way. The most important component in my opinion is the student's motivation driven by their curiosity. Many successful projects have centered around developing teaching modules for the genetics laboratory classroom. This includes DNA barcoding for species detection and identification, experiments in Drosophila developmental genetics, testing the effect of various additives in a Drosophila cancer genetics model, and understanding the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

floydr@hawaii.edu


Dr. Alison Sherwood

Dr. Alison Sherwood

Research Focus

The study of Hawaiian algae has a long and fascinating history. The projects in our laboratory span the freshwater, marine and terrestrial algal floras of the islands, and include a broad diversity of algal lineages. We have been characterizing the systematics of these algae as well as their biogeographic affinities, and are now beginning to examine their modes of dispersal to the Hawaiian Islands. We are also beginning to explore the purported link between toxin-producing cyanobacteria and avian botulism on the island of Kauai.

Potential Projects

  • Characterization of airborne algae on Oahu. We have multiple ongoing projects examining the biodiversity of airborne algae, as well as their modes of aerosolization. Students will develop an independent study that is related to ongoing work, or assist with a project that is underway. asherwoo@hawaii.edu

Dr. Brandon Yoza

Dr. Brandon Yoza

Research Focus

  • Biomass conversion - The problem of invasive algae is prevalent on the islands of Oahu, Maui and Molokai. According to the Hawaii Invasive Species Organization, invasive algae cost the State in excess of $20 million annually. In spite of efforts, invasive algae will likely never be entirely eradicated, generating waste over the long term. The primary goal for our research is to investigate the conversion of macroalgae commonly found in the ocean around Hawaii and asses its potential as biomass feedstock for energy production and for the generation of value added products.
  • Methane cycling - Methane cycling between the ocean and the atmosphere is an important component of the global carbon budget and has been receiving increased attention in recent years. The majority of productivity is concentrated along oceanic continental margins where large depositions of organic sediments exist, constituting an immense source. As a significant greenhouse gas, to understand the biological cycling of methane produced in these sediments and its subsequent oxidation before being released into the water column. Investigation of methane cycling in both sediments and the water column are an ongoing part of our research.
  • Biofuel contamination - Analysis and subsequent control and mitigation of microbial contamination of biofuels are important operational considerations. Such contamination leads to lower fuel stability, biofouling, and induced corrosion of fuel-related components. Biodiesel, however, is more likely to be contaminated by microbes than is petroleum diesel. Moreover, biodiesel’s chemical and biological hydrolysis to fatty acids provide labile carbon for sustained growth, which in turn results in acidification by metabolite production and then microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC). We currently isolate and characterize microbiological organisms for environmental samples to further understand its implication upon biofuel stability and its corrosive impacts.

Potential Projects

  • Determination of the potential mineral deposition during long term composting using waste macroalgae.
  • Characterize deep sea sediments collected from hydrate expeditions and determine their impact on repeatable DNA extraction processes used for molecular analysis
  • Characterize recently isolated seawater micro-organisms that have the potential to degrade biodiesel.

byoza@hawaii.edu

Questions? Email us at uhmreu@hawaii.edu