Project Ideas


One of the best ways to find an idea is by browsing journals in an area that interests you. If the abstract sounds interesting, examine the methods to see if it would be reasonable to do the project in a 4-5 week period.

An alternate way to find a project is to contact various members of the Biology Department. In some cases they will become your mentor for the project or they may suggest ideas that your laboratory instructor will supervise. In the list of topics below we have identified major resource people for the listed topics. If you find an interesting idea that is not related to the topics listed below, talk to your instructor about feasibility. Watch this site as we will continue to add links to papers that relate to some of these topics.


Resource Person

- Dictyostelium - a cellular slime mold
- Gravitropism in Plants
- Phycomyces - a zygomycete fungus
- Negleria development (amoeba to flagellate)
R. Edwards
- Molecular toxicology
- Gene expression and control
- Molecular biology
- DNA fingerprinting as a way of determining the sex of birds - paper
W. Powell
- Regulation of seedling development using Arabidopsis hypocotyl elongation as a model
- Heat tolerance in Arabidopsis
Moss development under a variety of conditions - see the following web site for descriptions of moss (see moss papers)
K. Hicks
- Foraging behavior or response to chemical singnals by Ants - tool use by ants (ant papers)
- GIS based questions that tend to focus on distributions of organisms - eg. ant species diversity, sycamore distribution as a function of soil type and hydrology etc.
- Acoustical & mating behavior of crickets
- Malphigian (excretory) tubules of crickets or tobacco hornworms
R. Heithaus
- Plant related projects
- Some molecular projects
Jen Smith
- Population growth, ecotoxicology, competition in aquatic plants like Lemna/Wolffia
- Regeneration or ecotoxicology using Lumbricullis (a type of worm) as a model system
- Distribution of invasive species at the BFEC
- Deer browsing
- Colonization of leaf litter in streams or arthropod diversity in different soil types
- Use of macroinvertebrates to evaluate stream quality
R. Heithaus and P. Heithaus
-Animal Behavior - field or laboratory projects - browse Animal Behavior for ideas R. & P Heithaus, B. Mauk
- Effect of background-matching by moths on bird foraging success. (behavior papers)
- Computer simulation in ecology - use individual based computer models to evaluate optimal behavioral solutions to problems faced by animals foraging, mating, avoiding predators, etc.
R. Mauck
-Species Diversity - these tend to be field projects using soil or aquatic animals or plants R. & P. Heithaus, Fennessy
- Microbiology - these projects can focus on salt tolerance, pH, temperature, antibiotic resistance

- Multiple antibiotic resistance in E. coli found in aquatic habitats
- Antimicrobial activity of spice extracts or garlic

- Water quality assessment
J. Slonczewski

P. Heithaus & D. Blankenhorn

R. Heithaus & S. Fennessy
- Regulation of salt balance in crabs and crayfish - ( see physiology papers)
- Measurements of metabolic rate in animals
- Physiology experiments using animals
C. Gillen
- Role of chemical cues in aquatic organisms
- Allelopathy vs. competition as a factor regulating plant growth (see allelopathy papers)
- Planaria (flatworm) as a model system for the study of neurochemicals
- Caffine as a repellent to slugs, snails or other invertebrates
- Regulators of germination
- Effects of root competition in plants (see Maina etal. 2002)
P. Heithaus
- Invertebrate behavior using Drosophila/ snails/caterpillars/small crayfish/nematodes
- Chemical senses - taste and smell using either physiological or behavioral assays
- Neuroanatomy, tract tracing in invertebrates
- Neural development assayed by immunocytochemistry
H. Itagaki
- Bird Behavior R. Mauck & R. Heithaus
- Forest ecology and plant biodiversity (see forest ecology papers)
- Mathematical modeling of biological phenomena (see modeling papers)
- Plant allometry, morphology, and ecology (see physiology papers)
- Phosphorus content and growth-rate in invertebrates (see Elsener etal. 2003)
- Ecological effects of Invasive plants (see invasive plant papers)
D. Kerkhoff
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