Looking for an NSF-REU student to work on several laboratory projects at UC Santa Barbara for two months (July/August; exact dates negotiable) of 2017. A stipend will be provided for housing, food, and amenities. These projects will be focused on soil and litter samples imported from the Mpala Research Centre=92s Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE), a 20-year herbivore experimental exclosure in Laikipia, Kenya; the projects themselves will enrich existing data sets being collected by several researchers both in the lab and in the field at the KLEE.
Project details: the student will work directly with a PhD candidate in the Young lab in the Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology department, on several projects.=20
-=09First: the student will learn to conduct and subsequently carry out microbial biomass extractions on soil samples from the KLEE; these soils came from a variety of soil =91types=92 within four experimental herbivore exclosures, each of which excludes a different combination of large-bodied native and domestic herbivores. The data from this project (extractable soil carbon, soil organic matter, and extractable soil microbial biomass) will join a dataset detailing the soils=92 potential microbial respiration rates, providing a rich combined dataset that will contribute to understanding why differences in soil microbial respiration occur in response to herbivore presence/absence on the landscape. -=09Second: the student will work with dried grass litter from the KLEE, which had been deployed in the field as a year-long litter decomposition experiment to explore the rate of carbon turnover in the field in response to herbivore presence/absence. These dried samples were deployed for between 1 and 12 months in 2015/2016, and have been stored in air-tight plastic bags at Mpala since. The student will grind, process and analyze the imported samples to determine their ratios of carbon to nitrogen, in order to illuminate the relative weight loss of each in response to herbivore treatment.
The undergraduate student who receives this job must be interested in community ecology, ecosystems ecology (e.g. nutrient cycling), and learning new laboratory techniques. This student must be amenable to spending a lot of time in the lab, but there is also opportunity for several days of field work in the lower Sierras! This would take place with several Young lab graduate students in a local herbivore presence/absence experiment; this opportunity will give the REU student the chance to experience field work in an herbivore experiment first-hand and couple it with their experience working on samples from the KLEE; having the ability to experience both will round out the student=92s overall experience researching the impacts of experimental herbivore =91loss=92 and land-use change on ecosystem carbon dynamics.
If interested, please send an updated resume and a 2-paragraph explanation of your interest in ecology and the project at hand, plus any relevant experience you may have had, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide your contact information and your availability for the months requested. The REU student would be expected to find housing in Santa Barbara (with logistical aid from the graduate student advisor) and be able to commit to a period of 2 months of work on the project. The available time window for this project is July through August, with limited flexibility on dates for either end.