Student Research Projects

See below for a listing of past student research projects.

Two biology students, one with binoculars, the other with headphones, microphone, and an audio recorder, observing and audio recording birds.

Student Research

Our students work directly with faculty mentors to design and carry out a variety of research projects.

Join Us in Our Modern Research Labs and Out in the Pacific NW

Biology students have opportunities to join research teams mentored by our faculty to conduct projects that take advantage of our location in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Some student projects focus on molecular, physiological, or evolutionary biology in our well-equipped state-of-the-art labs that opened in 2021. Other student projects venture from the mountains to the sound exploring ecosystems and collecting field data focused on marine biology and ecology.

Since the Biology Department’s faculty have broad interests and expertise, student project topics range widely and our students have boundless research opportunities. See some of the diverse student projects below.

Our students have opportunities to present their projects at regional and national undergraduate research conferences and professional meetings.

Undergraduate Research Conferences

Students present their research projects at conferences such as:

  • Murdock College Science Research Conference (November)

Student Projects

Project Student(s) Advisor(s)
Evolutionary Origins of Coloration in Alpheus A. Gillespie Hultgren
Catching yourself after you slip: creating slightly deleterious alleles in E. coli A. McConachie & Z. Chen Zanis
Bushtit Nesting Habits on SU Campus C. Bresee and B. Milder Hartley
Comparing Intein Effects in Saccharomyces cerevisiae D. Yee DuBois
Mossing Around: Comparing Invertebrate Communities in Orthotrichium lyelli moss between Urban Areas and Old Growth Forest G. Veltri Hultgren
Inteins! Who is the fastest escape artist? J. Abullarade Zanis
Investigating the formation of BREX protein complexes with DNA Part I J. Albert and S. Menezes Kaiser
Catching yourself after you slip: creating slightly deleterious alleles in E. coli J. Kahn and T. Hoang Zanis
Genomic and genetic diversity of chloroplasts in green algae K. Maruna Zanis
Catching yourself after you slip: creating slightly deleterious alleles in E. coli M Lebaron and B. Milder Zanis
Examining myxobacteria and 3-MBA M. Kahwaty Smith
DNA barcoding of crustaceans from Guam reveal the need for better DNA sequences in GenBank M. Spandler & S. Ugarte Hultgren
Assessing Seawall Removal as an Effective Marine Restoration Approach: Not a Shore Thing Marine Restoration Ecology Class Pool
Investigating the formation of BREX protein complexes with DNA Part II S. McGuire Kaiser
Project Student(s) Advisor(s)
Bushtits feeding on flower nectar in winter A. Berg and F. Chamberlain Hartley
Nature's Escape Artists: Viral Inteins in Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Systems A. Carroll and E. Alleman Zanis
Comparing genetic inheritance via sporulation of S. cerevisiae mutants prepared in two ways  D. Chinn  DuBois
Arabidopsis thaliana respose to sulfur  D. Imanishi Zanis
Species delimitation of goby-dwelling shrimp I. Hawksford Hultgren
Identification and diversity of green algae in local lakes J. Albert and S. Menezes Stenbak
Morphological evolution in Alpheus snapping shrimps J. Sarsfield Hultgren
Meta-analysis of exercise effects on hypertension in a rat model  K. Meredith Luckey
DNA binding parameters of the BrxR bacterial transcriptional regulator K. Higashi Kaiser
Presidential Election Results Influence on COVID-19 Cases and Deaths L. Sasaki and R. Zekariase Luckey
Barcoding of Invertebrates from Elliott Bay Marina L. Meyers Hultgren
Assay development to detect DNA methyltransferase activity of the BREX bacterial defense system  P. Smith Kaiser
Comparing two DNA extraction methods for invertebrate barcoding T. Goodspeed Hultgren
Project Student(s) Advisor(s)
Nesting Preferences of American Bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus) in an Urban Campus Setting Celeste Dylla and Hannah Samsen Rebecca Hartley, PhD
Testing the Ecological Limits of Algae Habitat Preference in the Pacific Northwest  Meaghan O'Connor Lenth Michael Zanis, PhD
The Effect of Acute Sleep Deprivation on the Stress Response in Undergraduates  Molly Van Dyke and Kaley Dugger Stephen Luckey, PhD
Quantitative trait analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana growing in a high sulfur environment Karyssa Miller Michael Zanis, PhD
Investigating the cardioprotective effects of exercise in young and old female mice Delaney Kirchmeier Stephen Luckey, PhD
Molecular evolution of methionine salvage genes across green plants Eloise Santa Cruz Michael Zanis, PhD
Effects of Harbor Seals on Salmon in the Puget Sound Bri Ganzon and Zach Duckworth Correigh Greene (NOAA)
Does Chronic Exercise Mitigate Final Examination Stress in Undergraduates? Benjamin Hughes and Ethan Schmitt Stephen Luckey, PhD
Impacts of Urbanization on Intertidal Invertebrate Species Richness in Puget Sound Kalia Hendricks and Morgan Beste Kristin Hultgren, PhD & Mark Jordan, PhD
Genetic variation within haploid clonal eukaryotic green algae Carolyn Fish Michael Zanis, PhD
Project Student(s) Advisor(s)
Does chronic exercise mitigate final examination stress in undergraduates? Abigail Wright & Benjamin Hughes Stephen Luckey, PhD & Molly Welsh (SPEX), PhD
Split protein regulation of IsmaMI cleavage Austin Bailey Brett Kaiser, PhD
Molecular ecology and polypolidy in the single-celled green algae Micrasterias (Desmidiaceae) Brittany Takushi Michael Zanis, PhD
Covalent attachment of protein cargo to a computationally designed toroid scaffold Caley Polkinghorn Brett Kaiser, PhD
Phylogenetic analysis and DNA barcoding identifies a potential cryptic species within the leafy liverwort genus Porella (Porellaceae) Camille DeRome Michael Zanis, PhD
The cardioprotective effects of exercise in the context of pathology Courtney Olson Stephen Luckey, PhD
The effect of sleep deprivation on the stress responses of undergraduate students Isheeta Tewari Stephen Luckey, PhD
The correlation demonstrated between egg size and genome size within Decapod crustaceans Jeremy Bjelajac Kristin Hultgren, PhD
Impacts of urbanization on the invertebrate communities of Puget Sound Kalia Hendricks Kristin Hultgren, PhD & Mark Jordan, PhD
The effects of used motor oil on zooplankton biodiversity Karena Thé Lindsay Whitlow, PhD
Phylogenetics of Phycodnaviruses in the Pacific Northwest Kofi Asare-Konadu Michael Zanis, PhD
Non-invasive species identification of urban mesocarnivores Lorraine Davis & Peter Reinhardt Mark Jordan, PhD
Seasonal responses to distress calls in the song sparrow, Melospiza melodia morphna Mary Dyrland Cheryl Wotus, PhD
Molecular evolution of the Yang Cycle, the methionine recycling pathway, across green plants Nicolas Huarita Garcia Michael Zanis, PhD
Population genetics of fishers in Vermont Sam Levy Mark Jordan, PhD
Solving the mystery of cryptic Alpheus species Sydney Hensyel Kristin Hultgren, PhD
Effects of high and low-use trails on plant diversity in Tiger Mountain State Park Teri Rackson Lindsay Whitlow, PhD
Project Student(s) Advisor(s)
Sub-lethal effects of lead pollution on intertidal crustaceans in the Duwamish Waterway Lucas Bartholomew-Good Kristin Hultgren, PhD
Evolution of genome size in snapping shrimp (genus Alpheaus) Dylan Gnatz Kristin Hultgren, PhD
The effects of household spices on Streptococcus mutans  Lauren Lau Daniel Smith, PhD
Impact of high-fat diet-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease on cardiac physiology Alanna McCarthy Stephen Luckey, PhD
Polar crustaceans have large genomes: Latitudinal variation in genome size in Amphipoda and Decapoda Angela Moran Kristin Hultgren, PhD
Drivers of trophic position plasticity for fishes within flood-pulse systems Corinne Noufi Thomas Pool, PhD
Voluntary exercise enhances cardiac growth in response to chronic b-adrenergic receptor stimulation Moira O'Connor Lenth Stephen Luckey, PhD
Development of a virus metagenomic eDNA PCR assay Brandon Palkowski Michael Zanis, PhD
Deep fishing: Dream or disaster? An analysis of the sustainability of deep sea fishing Megan Rodden Charles Fowler, PhD
Developing single-celled approaches to measuring genetic variation in Micrasterias rotata (Desmidiaceae) Brittany Takushi Michael Zanis, PhD
Cyanobacteria isolation and characterization from Pacific Northwest lakes and streams Christopher Trudeau Michael Zanis, PhD
Micrasterias (Desmidiaceae) diversity in the Pacific Northwest Selyna Villareal Michael Zanis, PhD
Project Student(s) Advisor(s)
Measurement of sedentary vs. active college student exam stress levels Bailey Archer Michael Zanis, PhD
Cryptic species identification of sponge-dwelling snapping shrimp (SYNAPHEAUS) Holly Callahan Kristin Hultgren, PhD
Phylogenetically controlled correlations between genome size, habitat, and development of Grapspoidea superfamily Maria Dalzell Martos Kristin Hultgren, PhD
An investigation on the nuclear and chloropast genetic diversity in cascadian Micrasterias fimbriata (Desmidiaceae) Margaret Gorini Michael Zanis, PhD
Construction of a similar foamy virus infectious clone Cooper Hayes Carolyn Stenbak, PhD
Genome size evolution in marine crustaceans Meghan Kennedy Kristin Hultgren, PhD
Developing a multilocus phylogeny of Micrasterias species in the pacific northwest Bayley Larsen Michael Zanis, PhD
Temporal niche partitioning occurs between the Virgina opossum (Didelphis Birginiana) and raccoon (Procyon Lotor) in Seattle's green spaces Destiny Mims Mark Jordan, PhD
Identifying genes involved in strain interactions between Myxobateria species Brian Nguyen Daniel Smith, PhD
Identifying the genetic basis for tolerance to environmental stressors in Arabidopsis thaliana Karen Nguyen Michael Zanis, PhD
Molecular evolution of the AGAMOUS large regulatory intron across spermatophytes Sun Hyee Park Michael Zanis, PhD
Investigating the DNA binding constraints of the I-Sob2593 Meganuclease Raymond Ruff Brett Kaiser, PhD
Phylogenetic analysis of Isoetes species (quillwort) from the pacific northwest Spencer Seale Michael Zanis, PhD
Examining the sex-dependent cardioprotective effects of exercise in murine hearts Sherilynn Soo Stephen Luckey, PhD
Algae gone viral: analysis of cascadian lakes phycodnavirus genome Abigail Wells Michael Zanis, PhD & Carolyn Stenbak, PhD
Quantifying growth rates of Micrasterias species across experimental freshwater habitats Katherine Wood Michael Zanis, PhD
Project Student(s) Advisor(s)
Identifying possible ligands for a putative kringle domain in Thalassiosira pseudonana Max Echterling Brett Kaiser, PhD
Algal Progression on Dead Caribbean Coral Benjamin Gulmon Michael Zanis, PhD
Quantifying River Corridor Habitat Using 2D Landscape Evolution Modeling Kaitlyn Hammond Lindsay Whitlow, PhD & Wes Lauer, PhD
Hair snare box optimization and SNP library discovery of Procyon lotor and Didelphis Stephanie Ingle Mark Jordan, PhD
Patterns of molecular variation of grass species within the Triticeae tribe Tristen Inoue Michael Zanis, PhD
Pre-existing Chronic Cardiopulmonary Conditions Independently Associated with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptom Development in Acutely Injured Trauma Survivors Cory Michael Kelly Robert Rutherford, PhD
Are there size and shape correlations between symbiotic Pea Crabs (Pinnotheridae) and their hosts Charles Lewis Kristin Hultgren, PhD
Utilization of smaller grouper species (Graysby, Red hind, Rock hind, Coney) densities as coral reef health indicators Ting-Jen (Austin) Lin Kristin Hultgren, PhD
Population Genetics of Fisher (Pekania pennanti) in Vermont Meike Lobb-Rabe Mark Jordan, PhD
Effects of pH on early development and mortality of Arabidopsis thaliana reared in hydroponic growth systems L. Devin Mackrell Michael Zanis, PhD
Growth Trends of Freshwater Desmids in Western Washington Lakes Matthew Sandrich Michael Zanis, PhD
Non-canonical DNA Binding of a Bacterial Transcription Regulator Bradley Walker Brett Kaiser, PhD
The Effect of Protease Activity on the Integrase-Dependepent Dimerization of Foamy Virus Polymerase Jacqueline Wallis Carolyn Stenbak, PhD
Molecular Evolution of Cosmarium ovale Zachary Walters Michael Zanis, PhD