Guam EPSCOR is funded by a 5-year, $20 million grant to the University of Guam from the National Science Foundation. The program aims to develop a Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals and Oceans to ensure the sustainability of coral reef ecosystems in the face of environmental change. Guam EPSCoR aims to situate Guam as a premier research and STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education hub bolstering sustainability, economic development, and informed decision-making by engaging communities in 21st-century science.
In addition to its research goals, Guam EPSCoR seeks to increase the number and diversity of students who choose STEM careers by engaging students in its Student Research Experience (SRE) Program. The SRE program is a program open to undergraduate students seeking research opportunities. Student research training and tasks may include field work to investigate coral reefs or to deploy and retrieve oceanographic instruments, as well as work in the University of Guam Marine Laboratory’s Molecular Lab. Selected students will learn about DNA extraction and sequencing and/or how to readout and analyze data to characterize marine environments. Ideal candidates are self-motivated, well organized, and have basic training or experience in lab procedures and microscopy.
The University of Guam and Research Corporation of the University of Guam are Equal Opportunity Employers that have received NSF funding to broaden the participation of underrepresented students in STEM fields. As such, the SRE Program remains open to all qualified students, but women, minorities, and students with disabilities are particularly encouraged to apply.
Program Eligibility and Requirements
- Must be a U.S. citizen and/or permanent resident of Guam
- Undergraduate student in good academic standing (UOG or GCC)
- Must be able to commit 7-10 hours a week between January 2022 – December 2022. Schedules to be determined with Faculty Mentor.
- STEM Students preferred, ALL Students welcome.
- Research Experience and Training
- Faculty/Researcher Mentoring
- Near-Peer Mentorship
- $6000 stipend ($500 monthly)
- National STEM Conferences
- Possible Travel Opportunities
Guam EPSCoR is seeking to fill six (6) Undergraduate Student Research Experience positions!
Tropical coral reefs are under many threats due to a rapidly changing climate that affects reef health.
SRE students will have opportunities that include tank experiments and field work to study coral health and resilience to environmental stress. As part of EPSCoR project, we describe the biological and physical characteristics of Guam’s coastal ocean.
To understand near-shore dynamics of our oceans, students may be involved in deploying and retrieving oceanographic instruments, and analyzing data to characterize our near-shore environments.
Genetic variation among individuals may affect the response of corals to the thermal stress posed by increasing sea surface temperatures. There will be opportunities to learn the genetic methods employed to study the response of corals to environmental change and use genetic barcoding for species identification to help elucidate Guam’s coral diversity.
Depending on student interest, training in molecular laboratory skills, including DNA extractions, polymerase-chain reaction, gel electrophoresis, DNA sequencing and analyses may be part of the internship.
Lastly, students may contribute to the EPSCoR Biorepository, a growing collection of Guam’s biodiversity to support research, as curatorial assistants. Specimens collected by students will be integrated into the collections, including tissue preservation, photographic documentation, data base utilization and maintenance of collections.
EPSCoR Faculty Mentors and Research
Interested applicants may indicate a preference for advisors and research areas. While preference will be considered in the application process, students will be assigned to an advisor. EPSCoR Mentors will work with students to develop a research project that aligns with student interests!
POPULATION GENOMICS OF REEF-ASSOCIATED INVERTEBRATES
Advisor: Sarah Lemer, Ph.D.
Species and population resilience to changing environments depend on genetic diversity and connectivity. Connectivity between islands and archipelagos can facilitate population maintenance and re-population following severe disturbances. In this objective, we will apply seascape genomics approaches to reef-associated invertebrates with different life histories, pelagic larval durations, and habitat preferences across Micronesia.
CORAL POPULATION GENOMICS
Advisor: David Combosch, Ph.D.
The Island Evolution Lab (IEL) is interested in basic and applied evolutionary questions in island settings. We are using genetic and genomic approaches (RAD-Seq, RNA-Seq and Genome re-sequencing) in combination with field work, observations, collections, and experimental manipulations to address original questions in population genetics, phylogenetics, phylogeography and molecular ecology to inform conservation, management and restoration. Within the EPSCoR GECCO framework, we are responsible for all things Coral Population Genomics, with a particular focus on local adaptations and regional connectivity.
POPULATION GENOMICS AND BIOGEOGRAPHY OF NATIVE DIADROMOUS FAUNA
Advisor: Daniel Lindstrom, Ph.D.
My research focuses on diverse native aquatic taxa that show one of three diadromous life history patterns (catadromy, anadromy or amphidromy) which demand that they spend part of their life stages in both fresh and marine waters with abilities to disperse long distances at sea. They are represented by teleost fishes, decapod shrimp and nerite snails that spend part of their life in the streams of southern Guam and other regional high islands. We will be collecting from various watersheds on Guam and elsewhere to elicit population structure and biogeographical patterns using various genetic techniques with a range of specificities depending on species.
ECOLOGY AND GENETIC DIVERSITY OF RED ALGAE ON TROPICAL REEFS
Advisor: Tom Schils, Ph.D.
Seaweeds are some of the most abundant and ecologically important organisms on tropical reefs. Crustose calcifying red algae (CCRA) are a group of seaweeds that deposit limestone just like stony corals. Certain CCRA are indicators for healthy reef systems as they are important ecosystem engineers and provide essential recruitment substrates for various invertebrate organisms. Other CCRA are protagonists of ecosystem transitions related to reef degradation. We use an integrated approach to study the diversity, ecology, and population genetic structure of CCRA communities in Guam and Micronesia.
COASTAL OCEANOGRAPHY AND BIOLOGICAL-PHYSICAL INTERACTIONS
Advisor: Atsushi Fujimura, Ph.D.
Marine organisms and their environment interact in many ways. The research is twofold: describing environmental variables and investigating physiological response to the environment. Research methods include but not limited to: in-situ physical/chemical oceanographic observation, remote sensing, numerical modeling, benthic survey, in-situ and laboratory biological experiment, and measurement of biological parameters.
Advisor: Terry Donaldson, Ph.D.
Students assigned to the Biorepository function essentially as curatorial assistants. In this role they will participate in the collection and curation of specimens, following iDigBio protocols, tissue preservation, whole organism preservation, photographic documentation, 2-D and 3-D scanning for digitization of images of whole organisms or structures, data base utilization and maintenance, analysis of data, assistance with manuscript preparation and maintenance of collections.
Near Peer Mentorship
EPSCoR SRE’s will participate in near-peer mentorship programs that place like-minded people pursuing STEM Research in positions to mentor each other and benefit from growth opportunities. You will share experiences with NSF SEAS Island Alliance INCLUDES and EPSCoR students of all levels; high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.
You will never be or feel alone! If you have questions, you can ask a graduate student who has done what you are doing! EPSCoR prides itself on building a supportive and diverse STEM community!
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Student researchers are expected to present research at STEM Conferences! Students will have the opportunity to network with like-minded people! EPSCoR also encourages students become involved in sustainability!
Undergraduate students that meet the eligibility requirements and have an interest in EPSCoR Research should apply using the link below.
- Application Opens: October 14, 2021
- Applications Close: October 31, 2021
- Acceptance Notification: December 01, 2021*
- Program dates: January 2022 to December 2022
*Some acceptance notifications may be released as early as November 12, 2021. Upon notification of acceptance, applicants will have 1 week to confirm acceptance.