Impact of Fragmentation on Fitness of Prairie Plants

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Research description: Minnesota's prairies once covered approximately 18 million acres; now, less than 1% remains. As prairie plant populations have decreased and become fragmented, genetic diversity has declined. This may impact the capacity of prairie plant species to adapt to rapid environmental change. Increasingly, society recognizes that prairies provide valuable ecosystem services; consequently, there is growing demand for prairie restoration. However, restorations require large amounts of seed, as well as research on the local adaptation and genetic variation in prairie plant species.

The Healthy Prairies project includes three experiments addressing the questions: Which microbes are present in native prairie plants and do those microbes help plants to become locally adapted? What is the geographic scale of local adaptation in prairie plant species and do "home" populations perform better than "away" populations when grown in a common environment? Do prairie plant species contain enough genetic variation to adapt to environmental change? The principal investigators on the project are Ruth Shaw (EEB), Georgiana May (EEB), and Don Wyse (Agronomy & Plant Genetics)

Potential UROP projects include (but are not limited to): (a) assessing how populations of a species vary with respect to germination, growth, and seed production; (b) comparing how eastern and western MN populations respond to drought at different life stages; (c) developing a timeline of peak flowering and seed-setting dates for prairie species, using existing literature; (d) assessing differences among populations in pollinator activity, as a function of species and phenology.

Ideal candidates
• have a strong interest in prairies, native plants, and/or community ecology
• are organized, pay attention to detail, and stay in communication with their mentors
• work well with others but are self-motivated and able to work without direct supervision

Skills you can learn
• Plant identification
• Setting up and maintaining greenhouse and field experiments
• Data collection and basic analysis
• How to communicate scientific findings (orally, by poster, in writing)

Contact: Shelby Flint,

Wind Turbine Data Acquisition and Analysis

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Wind Turbine Data Acquisition and Analysis

The St Anthony Falls Laboratory of the College of Science and Engineering operates a 2.5 Megawatt wind turbine and meteorological tower at UMore Park as part of the Eolos Wind Energy Research Field Station. The Station captures a substantial amount of data on approaching wind, turbulence, weather information, and wind turbine operation. We are seeking one or two undergraduate engineering students to collaborate in research related to the collection of wind energy related data at the site. The specific project(s) will be determined based on the interests and skill sets of the students but could include analysis of meteorological tower data, analysis of turbine operational data, or the development of data quality monitoring methods for the primary data streams.

1. Student should be interested in renewable energy and particularly in wind energy.
2. Student should be in an engineering field such as aerospace, mechanical, electrical, or civil engineering.
3. Student must be energetic, self-motivated, and detail oriented as the products of the student-led research will be incorporated into the operation of the Field Station.

Contact: Jeff Marr (

Translation Opportunity

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English Professor Nabil Matar is completing an English translation of selections from a Moroccan traveler of the 18th century and needs a student to assist with:

1. checking bibliographic entries
2. assisting another student with the index
3. reading for typos; making suggestions


1. student should be very meticulous; no knowledge of Arabic is required, but the students should learn to distinguish different markers on letters
2. student should be patient
3. student should have an excellent command of English
4. student should be able to work under pressure and with changing deadlines

Contact: Nabil Matar, English Department,

Dutch Complex housing: A Typological Analysis

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Julia Robinson, Professor of Architecture, is studying nine large dense multiple-use housing complexes in the Netherlands for her project on Dutch Complex Housing. She seeks UROP students to assist. There are several ways undergraduate students could participate in this project.

1. Complete a Space Syntax analysis of 2 or more buildings. Students should have an interest in learning about space syntax (especially, but not exclusively, those with a mathematical bent).

2. Create a floor plan of 2 or more buildings. Students should have some graphic skills and ability to work in Illustrator and/or CAD.

3. Layout for illustrations for each project. Students skilled in graphic design are ideal for this work.

Contact: Julia Robinson, Professor, Architecture;

Positive Psychology project

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Positive psychology is a relatively new but rapidly growing field, focusing on building upon strengths rather than repairing deficits (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Its interventions have shown considerable efficacy in the general public as tools for improving emotion and wellbeing, and they are now being tested in the prevention and treatment of several mental health conditions.

An important starting point in this evaluation is to discern the extent to which elements of positive psychology are already employed in a given treatment approach. In the realm of addiction studies, which is experiencing a similar shift from a pathology mindset to a general flourishing mindset with the advent of the recovery movement, this line of inquiry seems particularly relevant. It can establishing the extent to which positive interventions are already employed and can be evaluated, as well as areas where positive interventions might breathe new life into treatment as usual.

This study will thus focus on the existence of positive interventions in treatment as usual through a qualitative analysis of the Project MATCH treatment manuals. The manuals were developed as part of a seminal study conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, on the uses of Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Twelve Step Facilitation Therapy in the treatment of substance use disorders. UROP students will continue work begun recently at the University of Michigan by coding the manuals in order to evaluate the presence or absence of positive interventions and certain subthemes within the three classic psychotherapeutic approaches outlined.

The Project MATCH analysis offers opportunities for undergraduate students to delve into the current work in two dynamic fields for social scientists and mental health practitioners alike, all the while honing their general research skills. Through this work, students will gain extensive experience in the realm of qualitative research. They will also achieve footholds in positive psychology and addiction studies. Students will be supervised by a graduate research assistant and a professor from the School of Social Work. As valued members of a small team, they will contribute to the project's growth through their coding efforts, general research tasks such as locating articles, helping with literature reviews, and reviewing manuscripts, and participation in regular staff meetings to discuss projects and possible directions for future research.

Contact: Amy R. Krentzman, Assistant Professor
School of Social Work
p. (612) 625-2312 / (800) 779-8636

Works Cited

Seligman, M. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14.

Faculty Member: Dr. Walter Truong - Assistant Professor Orthopedic Surgery ( or

Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare is one of the nation's Best Children's Hospitals for pediatric orthopedics. Our orthopedic surgeons treat complex orthopedic conditions resulting from cerebral palsy, osteogenesis imperfecta, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and other lifelong conditions. Patients with common pediatric orthopedic conditions - such as scoliosis, clubfeet, hip instability, and fractures - are also cared for using evidence based medicine to promote optimal outcomes.

We have a growing research program and are continually seeking motivated and bright undergraduates who are looking for patient-related research experience. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with surgeons, clinical scientists, and research coordinators on our research efforts at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.

Ideal candidates should:
• be organized and able to coordinate multiple tasks
• have basic data collection/entry skills (data sheets, excel spreadsheets)
• able to have transportation to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare
• flexibility to attend meetings with research teams
Skills you could learn:
• Formulating, examining, and answering important research questions
• Exposure to research methodology and tools
• Designing, using, and managing REDCap databases
• Methods to search medical records (i.e., retrospective and prospective studies)

Contact: Susan Novotny,

Contact: Katey Pelican,
Ecosystem Health Initiative, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, CVM

Research description:
Our research group takes broad interdisciplinary approach to understanding the ecology of diseases that affect wildlife, domestic animal, and human populations. One of the pressing challenges in disease ecology is understanding how infections are spread between individuals, and how the risk of disease spread might be impacted by
variation in the landscape. So we have designed studies to find out how differences in forest habitat alter the small mammal community, and how in turn these differences in community structure shape contact rates between animals and potential for disease spread across varied landscapes.

Summer UROP opportunity:
You can be a part of our research at the (lovely, famous, and conveniently close-by) Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. The summer field work will include four weeks (1 week each in May, June, July, August) of small mammal trapping. We will mark, release, and recapture animals to estimate the abundance and diversity of small
mammals in different forest habitats. We will also collect several samples for disease screening and genetic analysis. After samples are collected and data entered, student participants will have several options to shape their involvement in the analytical stages of the research. Student projects could focus on either the ecological or epidemiological aspects of the research.

Skills you should have:
You should be organized and able to coordinate multiple tasks
You should be physically able and willing to work outdoors, hot or inclement weather possible
You should have basic data collection / entry skills (data sheets, excel spreadsheets)

Skills you could learn:
Trapping and handling small mammals
Using mark-recapture methods to estimate populations
Using GIS to map habitat variations
Collecting basic epidemiological data to monitor population health

The Legacy of Joanne Bubolz Eicher

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A legacy refers to something handed down from one person to another. Through her teaching, advising, research, publications, and other academic activities, Eicher has had tremendous effect on students, colleagues, and the field of textiles and clothing, especially the socio-cultural significance of dress and textiles.

The purpose of this project is to determine the influence which she has had on her graduate students' intellectual and professional lives. Information will be obtained from her students through he design of an on-line interview and analysis of the responses. This is a qualitative method of inquiry.

In addition to satisfying the criteria for a UROP project, the outcomes of this project will be: 1) a proposal to the International textiles and Apparel Association for recognition of an outstanding undergraduate research paper (report), and 2) inclusion in a book-in-process titled "Through the Lens of a Scholar: An Intellectual Biography of Joanne Bubolz Eicher."

Contact: Gloria Williams,

UROP blog

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This blog is intended as a way for U of MN faculty members to post research/scholarly/creative projects for UROP applicants. Please post a brief description of a potential project including qualifications for applicants and contact information.