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 The S​URGE Participant will:
  • increase their academic and social integration with other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students, faculty, professionals, and industry creating pathways to: 
    • working with faculty and/or industry advisors in defining research goals, processes and data analysis
    • conduct small scale research projects that involve data collection and analysis 
    • creating and presenting a research poster at the COS STEM Symposium or at a National STEM Conference
    • create opportunities for summer research internships and/or summer jobs related to their field of study
    • travel scholarships for professional conferences
    • educational funding and scholarship opportunities
 Check out COS STEM Symposium Books with STEM student projects: Fall 2016 Symposium Book.pdfFall 2016 Symposium Book.pdf
                                                                                                            Fall 2015 STEM Symposium Book ​  
                                                                                                            fall 2014 Symposium Book.pdf​ 

 

Available Projects

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Majors
  
  
  
Abstract
  
  
  
Project TitleDistribution of pistachio bushy top syndrome (PBTS) isolates of Rhodococcus in affecteed pistachio block.
College/Industry CollaborationUCCE Tulare and Kings Counties and AgExperts
Mentor/AdvisorAgExperts, Inc. - Plant Disease Diagnostics - Tulare Ca.
MajorsAll STEM Majors, Biology, Chemistry
Number of Students2
Required Courses & SkillsInterns interested in this opportunity should have completed coursework in basic biology and preferably microbiology and/or molecular biology. Interns should have an interest in disease diagnostics, either in plant or animal systems and/or plant science
Abstract

Note:  This is a bacteriology project requiring both field and laboratory work for completion.

Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome is a new disease that has resulted in the removal of over 50,000 acres of newly-planted pistachio in the southern San Joaquin Valley.  The disease is caused by two gram-positive bacteria that are closely related to Rhodococcus fascians and Rhodococcus corynebacterioides.  The bacteria appear to have been present in the trees at planting; however symptom development generally takes approximately 1-2 years to manifest.  Disease incidence in affected orchards may range from approximately 15-75%.

The goal of this project is to assess the distribution of the bacteria in an affected orchard 6 years after planting. The field site, located south of Corcoran, CA, contains approximately 1.5 acres containing symptomatic trees. The affected area has been mapped, the trees have been flagged, and the phenotypes (trunk diameter, bark anatomy, scaffold thickness, suckering) of symptomatic and asymptomatic trees have been recorded. With a SURGE intern, we propose to sample the trees in the research block and determine the presence/absence of the pathogen on symptomatic and asymptomtic trees, as well as determination of the presence of the virulence plasmid in isolates.

A second study, running concurrently, will assess the efficacy of different techniques for DNA extraction.  These gram positive bacteria are difficult to disrupt for DNA extraction. Our lab currently incubates cells in a lysozyme solution for two hours prior to DNA extraction utilizing a commercial DNA extraction kit. Additionally, preliminary results of studies conducted by AgExperts suggests that a DNA extraction kit utilized for detection of bacteria associated with mastitis in cows may be effective for use on these plant pathogenic bacteria. The efficacy of different DNA extraction kits, with or without a lysozyme treatment will be assessed both on pure cultures and on infected plant material.

Procedures:  Field sampling will take place on two separate, consecutive days (to prevent contamination between symptomatic and asymptomatic trees). Tissue will be collected from suckers of symptomatic and asymptomatic trees, where available.  Epi- and endophytic pathogen populations will be determined by isolation of bacteria in the laboratory. DNA will be extracted from putative Rhodococcus isolates using standard techniques and PCR conducted using primers specific for Actinomycetes, Rhodococcus, and the virulence plasmid in Rhodococcus. 

The results will indicate the potential for the pathogens to have spread to asymptomatic trees over the 6 years.  Additionally, the results will also indicate the level of persistence of the pathogens within symptomatic trees.

StatusOpen
TimelineThis project will require two days of field work, followed by several days of laboratory work. There will be gaps of time between initial culturing, subculturing, and PCR. The entire project will take 2-3 days of work per week over approximately 6 weeks.
Application Deadline6/4/2017
 
Project TitleDrought Impacts on Tree Mortality in the Kaweah Delta
College/Industry CollaborationCollege of the Sequoias
Mentor/AdvisorBobby Kamansky
MajorsAll STEM Majors
Number of Students1-3
Required Courses & SkillsAt least one college biology course and interest in ecology/trees
Abstract

Areas in the Kaweah Delta in Tulare County show visible and measurable apparent Valley oak mortality.  This study is expanded to investigate the location, density, distribution and number of dead oaks in select areas in the Kaweah, Tule and Yokohl Valley watersheds.

Several primary hypotheses guide this research. Among them are that the oaks with high mortality represent a drought-sensitive cohort in the population. We are may be observing a major selection event with the current die off. We gathered significant evidence for this hypothesis in 2016. Many dead oaks have live neighbors, apparently under the same or similar conditions. Genetics may yield the difference.
 
Another hypothesis is that the high-mortality oaks are concentrated along channels where they get irrigation seep water. These may be especially sensitive because they didn’t develop deep root systems. We gathered data to test this hypothesis, but it appears that oaks are, in fact, dependent on surface water supplies
 
This research will now be expanded into Three Rivers, Sequoia National Park, SCICON and Circle J/Norris Ranch to investigate higher elevation species, mortality and aspect factors.
StatusOpen
TimelineJune thru July - STEM Symposium August 11th
Application Deadline6/4/2017
 
Project TitlePlant Tumors - Tree Tumors
College/Industry CollaborationCollege of the Sequoias
Mentor/AdvisorCarlota Marin
MajorsAll STEM Majors
Number of Students1-3
Required Courses & SkillsBiology and Chemistry Coursework Completion Preferred, Interest in Plants and Pathology
Abstract

Students and teacher will do a bibliographic research first to find more about tree tumors. The areas of research are biology/botany/ecology.

The data collected will be related to the types of trees found at COS – a thoroughly study of each tree that has tumors on it, we will measure the diameter of the tree trunk, the size of the tumor and if possible we will take some samples for analysis in the biology lab.
 
Students will perform field studies inside the COS campus, we first will have a walk through the campus and identify each tree first then find the ones that have tumors, and then make a map of the areas where these trees are found for further studies.
StatusOpen
TimelineJune 12-July 31
Application Deadline6/4/2017
 
Project TitleRestoration Design and Student Mentoring for Eleanor Roosevelt Learning Center – Outcomes for Pollinators and other animals
College/Industry CollaborationCollege of the Sequoias
Mentor/AdvisorMr. Bobby Kamansky
MajorsAll STEM Majors, Biology, Plant Science, particularly with interest in agriculture
Number of Students3
Required Courses & SkillsCompletion of at least one course in biology
Abstract

Investigators will utilize the restoration vision for the 7-acre ERCLC campus and its 5-7 restoration zones developed by students, to design and begin implementing a restoration program on the Campus. The program will utilize ERCLC students, mentored in direct field work and planning by COS students, ERCLC and professionals to develop planning and implementation project-based learning experiences. The program will yield a deeper appreciation for the local ecology, plant, animal and human interactions and foster an appreciation and conservation of the local environment.

This is the second full year of research for the program and this year, research emphasizes the outcomes from the Campus re-design to demonstrate proof of concept, gather and analyze monitoring data to include birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, arthropods and connect to Campus improvements.​

StatusOpen
TimelineOngoing project continues in Summer 2017
Application Deadline6/4/2017
 
Project TitleThe Relationship between vernal pool physio-chemical parameters and vernal pool biota
College/Industry CollaborationCollege of the Sequoias
Mentor/AdvisorBobby Kamansky
MajorsAll STEM Majors
Number of Students1-3
Required Courses & Skillscoursework in chemistry and biology, interest in ecology and biology, interest in valley ecology                       
Abstract

This project explores water and soil physical-chemical properties and their relationships to vernal pool invertebrate presence and absence. This project is in its third year of research and manuscript publication is expected.

Investigators will sample soils, water along with biological data to determine the relationships among aquatic environments and the biota wetlands house. After field investigations collecting appropriate data, lab and statistical analyses will correlate the presence/absence of various wetland invertebrates with water and soil physical-chemical properties.
 
This is the fourth year of data collection and analysis. The study sites include:
1.    Woodville Conservation Area;
2.    James K. Herbert Wetland Prairie Preserve;
3.    Circle J/Norris Ranch, Springville.
 
We detected fairy shrimp at each site in 2016-17 and will analyze the data to draw correlations in the data and provide fundamental natural history about these threatened species.
StatusOpen
TimelineJune thru July, STEM Symposium August 11th
Application Deadline6/4/2017
 
*The COS Student Undergraduate Research Group Experience (SURGE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Last Updated: 1/16/2017 9:21 AM