Loren Buck, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Physiological Ecology, Endocrinology
Research in my laboratory is focused on physiological ecology. I am interested in elucidating impacts of changing environmental conditions on the behavior and physiology (reproductive, metabolic, stress) of both marine and terrestrial organisms. The high latitude environment is dynamic. It is characterized by extreme intraanual, interannual, and interdecadal variation in temperature, currents, nutrients etc. which, in turn, profoundly affect species assemblages. Research projects in my laboratory address the mechanistic linkages whereby fluctuations in the environment impact the physiology and ultimate fitness of the individual. Although focused on the individual, these data allow for extrapolation to the population. This research not only serves a basic research function of describing and understanding the fundamental evolution of physiological adaptation, but also serves to define impacts of environmental change on growth and survival.
Jennifer Burns, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Physiological ecology of diving vertebrates
Dr. Burns' research focuses on questions surrounding the physiological status of marine mammals and the behavioral strategies they use to find and exploit food resources. Particularly active areas of research in her laboratory focus on understanding how the age and physiological status of marine mammals influences their diving and foraging capacities, and on how differences in age and condition impact life history traits. A variety of laboratory-based projects are available to REU students and students have the option of working in the areas of physiology or ecology. For example, students interested in physiological adaptations could address questions surrounding age and/or seasonal differences in animal condition, hormone status, or muscle physiology. Alternatively, students interested in ecology might address questions about diet as interpreted through stable isotope analysis, or diving patterns of adult Weddell seals.
Matt Carlson, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Plant Conservation, Systematics, Evolutionary Ecology
Dr. Carlson's research focuses on the ecology, evolution, and conservation biology of plants in Alaska. His current projects include studying the role of pollinators as agents of natural selection on arctic and alpine plant species, developing native seed sources for revegetation, and invasion biology of non-native plants in the state. REU students will have opportunities to conduct pollination experiments in the field and/or use existing spatial data to study invasion vulnerabilities under current conditions and future scenarios in Alaska.
Doug Causey, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Population Genetics, Ornithology, Disease Ecology
Research in my lab is centered on understanding the complex ecological dynamics of wild populations at fine-scales of time and space. Current student projects include population and landscape genetics of anadromous fish of the North Slope of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Three Rivers (Portage, Twentymile, Placer rivers) regions;paleoecology and paleogenetics of Hawai'ian Newell's Shearwaters;the population ecology and genetics of seabirds of the western Aleutian Islands;and landscape ecology of Alaskan Little Brown Bats. Newly funded projects include high-precision stable isotope analysis of foraging and migration behavior of Aleutian Terns breeding in Yakutat, and the viral pathogen ecology of Little Brown Bats breeding in Central, Western, and Interior Alaska. All of these projects are available for research experience by REU undergraduate students.
Khrys Duddleston, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Microbial ecology and host-microbe interactions
Research projects available in Dr. Duddleston's lab focus on host-microbe interactions. Much light has been shed on the importance of the gut microbial community to overall health and development of animals, including humans, and in understanding the role of gut microbes and disease (such as obesity); however, much is left to uncover. For example, little is known about the gut microbiota of animals which exist in extreme environmental conditions, and how microbes may contribute to host physiology and energetics. Animals such as arctic ground squirrels, which hibernate up to 9 months of the year, and some species of turtles, which survive conditions of anoxia for extended periods of time, are excellent models for studying host-microbe interactions. Results from these studies hold the potential to uncover heretofore unknown aspects of host physiology, and may shed additional light on a complex relationship that is important for human health and disease.
Jerry Kudenov, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Biology and feeding ecology of intertidal marine invertebrates
Dr. Kudenov’s research ranges from the systematics of fireworms (Amphinomida) from hydrothermal vents, methane seeps and world areas, electron microscopy, and the ecology of marine invertebrates, particularly marine bristleworms or polychaetous annelids. The habitat we have been investigating includes the marine intertidal zone of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge (ACWR), which is covered by ice around 6 months per year and an important staging area particularly for migratory shorebirds. ACWR is gentle-sloped and characterized by well-sorted, highly porous fine to muddy sediments that are surficially consolidated by benthic diatoms. The few macroinvertebrate species that permanently colonize the refuge tend to be represented by stunningly abundant population densities of deposit-feeders during summer months. Potential projects include contributing to on-going efforts to characterize the community’s benthic ecology, or describing the morphology, feeding ecology, reproductive biology or larval development of selected infaunal species. Projects performed by REU students will offer both field- and laboratory-based research experiences that are collaborative and multidisciplinary.
Dan Rinella, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Aquatic Ecology
Don Spalinger, Ph.D.Research Focus: ecology, chemistry, and physiology of plants and herbivores.
My research focuses on the ecology, chemistry, and physiology of plants and herbivores. I am particularly interested in the nutritional ecology of large herbivores in northern ecosystems, including moose, caribou, and black-tailed deer. To understand how habitats and plant communities influence the survival and productivity of these animals, my research explores a diversity of topics, including digestive physiology. An REU student in my lab this summer would conduct research on some aspect of rumen microbial responses to changes in diet, particularly in response to tannins.
Paddy Sullivan, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Plant and ecosystem physiological ecology
Current research projects in my laboratory include: 1. Improving our understanding of the controls on white spruce tree physiology, growth and reproduction along a west to east gradient near the Arctic treeline in the Brooks Range of northern Alaska; 2. Using carbon isotopes and dendrochronology to examine changes in ecosystem metabolism and vegetation communities of west Greenland; 3. Conducting tree ring analyses to help explain recent changes in biomass of major tree species in southeast Alaska. Opportunities may be available for students to work in the field or in the laboratory.
Bjartmar Sveinbjornsson, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Treeline ecology and the physiological ecology of mosses and lichens
Dr. Sveinbjornsson's research focuses on the dynamics of the tundra-taiga boundary as well as the physiological ecology of mosses and lichens in arctic and subarctic ecosystems. His work addresses such questions as global change and arctic ecosystems, external forces and internal processes affecting treeline position, and physiological differences between alpine and subalpine lichen populations. REU student projects typically use a combination of laboratory and field-based approaches and utilize the forests and mountains surrounding Anchorage. For students interested in treeline ecology, projects could examine 1) how soil heterogeneity (nature of organic and nature mineral layers e.g. thickness, pH, organic matter, water relations, etc.) above and below the altitudinal treeline affects species density, or 2) how damage to trees at and below treeline affects growth. Potential projects in the area of moss and lichen ecology could address questions related to 1) correlations between species occurrence and overstory canopy conditions (vascular plant canopy closure) and substrate moisture holding capacity, or 2) moss and/or lichen drying rates in natural canopies as well as in modified canopies.
Frank von Hippel, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Ecotoxicology, Evolutionary Ecology & Conservation Biology
The von Hippel lab studies problems in ecotoxicology, evolutionary ecology and conservation biology using the stickleback as a model system. REU students in von Hippel's lab will be given the opportunity to analyze the morphology, behavior, physiology, trophic ecology and/or genetics of sticklebacks or other freshwater fishes. The von Hippel lab studies a wide range of contaminants, including perchlorate, mercury, pesticides, PCBs, PBDEs, and PFCs. Projects range from mechanistic lab studies to dynamics of contaminants in aquatic food webs.
Jeffrey Welker, Ph.D.
Research Focus: Physiological and ecosystem ecology of arctic tundra and boreal forests
Dr. Welker's lab has four main research programs: a) Arctic tundra responses to changes in climate and changes in herbivory in Northern and Western Alaska and in NW and west-central Greenland, b) continental-scale studies of precipitation isotope geochemistry and the application of modern water cycle isotope understanding to palaeoclimate reconstructions, c) food web and migration ecology involving wolf, polar bear, brown bear and caribou foraging traits and diets as well as d) the teleconnections between wintering and breeding grounds for tundra swans, white fronted and brant geese, and shorebirds. REU students in 2015 could undertake studies at our field research locations at Toolik Lake on the N Slope of Alaska, our YK-Delta station on the Bering Sea coast, and or at our research station in NW Greenland.
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