Evaluating a citizen science project on native bees in Oregon.

Faculty Mentor: Andony Melathopoulos

Department: Horticulture

Abstract

There is considerable concern with insect decline globally. Bees are a group of particular concern. In Oregon, we have developed a unique citizen science program called the Oregon Bee Atlas, where members of the public are trained to generate museum-quality native bee specimens, and to target their survey efforts in areas that have historically been poorly sampled. This project will focus on analyzing the performance of the volunteers in terms of where they are surveying and the quality of specimens they are collecting.

Project Description

The project is expected to be of high caliber and lead to a peer-reviewed publication which the successful applicant would be an author. Many citizen science projects have poor spatial distribution of records over space, focusing on urban areas or along interstates. A key task of the project would involve analyzing collection records from 2018 and 2019 and determining the extent to which the volunteers are moving towards a more uniform and spatially dispersed sampling of the state's bees. In addition, we have data on the species of bees and plant hosts that volunteers have collected from. The project will also involve determining the extent to which volunteers are able to locate and collect of rarer plants and discover less common bees.

Description of Student Responsibilities

Research would be focused in my lab doing data analysis, which is located on campus in my lab. The student will meet with me for 60 min per week to discuss their progress and to work through problems they are encountering. Since this project term is short it will require a student that is focused and can remain on task.

Skills

The project will difficult if the student is unfamiliar with ACGIS or statistical software such as R.

Learning Outcomes

In partnership with me, the student will develop their own hypotheses, design a data analysis methodology and write up their results in a format suitable for a scientific journal.

Expected start and end date: January 6, 2020 - June 5, 2020

Anticipated hours per week: 10-20

Anticipated hourly wage: $12-14

Putting predation to work in Oregon's hazelnut groves

Faculty Mentor: Dana Sanchez

Department: Fisheries and Wildlife

Abstract

Natural predators such as owls, hawks, coyotes and foxes can contribute to management of rodent populations that sometimes threaten establishment of new hazelnut groves. Working with Dr. Sanchez and collaborating with Hazelnut Specialist Dr. Wiman, the student researcher(s) will contribute to documenting current levels of damage or incursion in a sample of new hazelnut groves in the Willamette Valley and will contribute to a pilot project to test the efficacy of adding habitat elements (perches, nest boxes) for aerial predators as a means of increasing tree establishment success rates. Work will include project design skills such as literature review, field work such as noninvasive observation of animal sign, shop/management work such as building perches and boxes, and oral and written communication of results and recommendations for future work.

Project Description

Student researcher(s) will work up to 5 hours/week in a flexible and feasible schedule. conduct literature reviews

Skills

Student researchers should demonstrate interest, active engagement, and commitment in all steps of learning how to design and conduct this pilot project, from literature review and research question distillation through fieldwork to fine-editing of final communication pieces. Participants should be "coachable" and open to constructively incorporating mentor and collaborator input in all phases of the project's work. Fieldwork will require students to practice skills of clear communication, proactive preparation, and willingness and ability to travel in OSU vehicles to research sites in the Willamette Valley. Ideal but not required: Safe driving record such that student researcher can get Motorpool approval to operate OSU vehicles.

Learning Outcomes

Student researchers will learn new or expand their existing skills in use of database searches to obtain relevant primary literature, to read and incorporate information from the literature in designing a research project, and in writing the proposal that communicates the project's basis, measurable objectives, and methods. Student researchers will practice skills of preparing for field work to enable safe, efficient, and productive work in the field setting. Student researchers will practice techniques of systematic observation in the field to assess presence/absence or intensity of use by species of interest. Students will practice writing and oral communication skills through draft and revision processes, especially at the beginning and ending phases of the project.

Expected start and end date: January 6, 2020 - June 5, 2020

Anticipated hours per week: 5

Anticipated hourly wage: $12.00

Fractionation and Valorazation of Plant Polymers from Hazelnut Shells

Faculty Mentor: Glen Li   

Department: Food Science and Technology

Abstract

Hazelnut shell, a byproduct from the production of hazelnut, is currently used mostly in low-value landscaping applications. About 30% of the dry weight in hazelnut shells is lignin, which is an aromatic polymer that has potential use in the synthesis of value-added chemicals and polymers. This project aim to obtain a fundamental understanding on the efficacy of oxidative reactions as a mean of extracting lignin polymers from hazelnut shells, and to evaluate the potential use of hazelnut shells in biorefining.

Project Description

Lignin is a plant biopolymer that is commonly present in plant cell wall, but the structure of this biopolymer vary depending on the type of tissue, type of plant, as well as growth conditions. Few research has been published on the lignins derived from hazelnut shell, and there is currently very limited understanding on the chemical and structural properties of hazelnut shell lignin. This research will utilize a multifaceted approach to understanding how hazelnut shell lignin behaves during fraction and chemical modification processes, and will identify potential applications for this biobased, sustainable, yet underutilized polymer.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student researcher will perform laboratory work related to: - Size reduction of hazelnut shells - Chemical component analysis of hazelnut shells - Extraction and chemical modification of polymers derived from hazelnut shells - Study of the effect of processing parameters on the yield of hazelnut shell fractions

Skills

Two-terms of general chemistry with lab; one or more terms of organic chemistry preferred. Completion of CH324 quantitative analysis is preferred.

Learning Outcomes

Student will gain hand-on experience with plant polymer extraction, modification, and analysis. Namely, the student will learn lab techniques including vaccum filtration, lignin oxidation, UV/Vis spectrometry, solvent extraction, and polymer synthesis. The student will also have the opportunity to analyze data from NMR and chromatography characterization of polymers derived from hazelnut shell.

Expected start and end date: January 6, 2020 - June 5, 2020

Anticipated hours per week: 6

Anticipated hourly wage: $15

Extracting body size data of trout and salamanders using digital photography analysis

Faculty Mentor: Ivan Arismendi

Department: Fisheries and Wildlife

Abstract

This position will require image manipulation, database management, and data entry. Over the summer, we took photos of multiple species of aquatic organisms including fishes and salamanders. The sizes, locations, and identity of the animals are important to several ongoing projects. We are looking for a person to use the program ImageJ to measure the size of animals from the photos.

Project Description

This position will require image manipulation, database management, and data entry. Over the summer, we took photos of multiple species of aquatic organisms including fishes and salamanders. The sizes, locations, and identity of the animals are important to several ongoing projects. We are looking for a person to use the program ImageJ to measure the size of animals from the photos. Candidates need to be able to open photo files, use Excel, reliably enter and check data (10 key skills are a plus but not required), and are willing to learn to use new software. The analysis can be done on any computer. We will provide training on how to install and use the required software. This position provides an opportunity to engage with field ecology from any computer, experience with data acquisition and management, and is essential to complete the larger research project. We estimate the process for each photo will take about 10-20 min. Photos include between 5-15 animals (sculpin, trout and salamander).

Description of Student Responsibilities

Candidates need to be able to open photo files, use Excel, reliably enter and check data (10 key skills are a plus but not required), and are willing to learn to use new software. The analysis can be done on any computer. We will provide training on how to install and use the required software. This position provides an opportunity to engage with field ecology from any computer, experience with data acquisition and management, and is essential to complete the larger research project. We estimate the process for each photo will take about 10-20 min. Photos include between 5-15 animals (sculpin, trout and salamander).

Skills

We are looking for someone who is able simultaneously use multiple computer programs, is enthusiastic, self motivated, and has exacting attention to detail.

Learning Outcomes

This position provides an opportunity to engage with field ecology and obtain experience with data acquisition and management.

Expected start and end date: January 1, 2020 - May 15, 2020

Anticipated hours per week: 5-10

Anticipated hourly wage: $12

Best Practices for Managing Potted Olive Trees and Field Transplanting

Faculty Mentors: Javier Fernandez-Salvador

Mentor Departments: Crop and Soil Science

Abstract

Olives are an emerging crop in western Oregon. The Olea Olive Research Project is investigating the practice of overwintering, up-potting, and transplanting various sizes and ages of trees to improve the survival rates of young trees. This project is based at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (in Aurora) with occasional work at the Woodhall Vineyard (in Alpine). The chosen student will assist with Year 3 of the up-potting study, including managing potted trees in a greenhouse setting, potting and staking newly received trees, and assisting with plantings and data collection of trees in the field trial. Additionally, the student will help conduct a literature review on overwintering and transplanting trees, and learn data analysis and summary techniques. The student will be expected to collaborate and communicate with the entire team, and is highly encouraged to continue as a summer researcher if it is a good fit.    

Project Description

The Olea Olive Research Project was established to explore olive production in Oregon, and topics relevant to the establishment of a new tree fruit industry in Oregon, including propagation, orchard planting and management, and cultivar evaluation for cold hardiness. The up-potting study in particular is evaluating the practice of growing trees in the greenhouse for longer periods of time, in successively larger pots, with the goal of higher survival rates once trees are planted in the field. This is year three of the trial, in which 1 and 2 year old trees have already been grown in the greenhouse for the past few years, a new batch of trees for the trial will be received in spring, and multiple plantings will take place between spring and fall 2020. We seek a student to assist with the management of this research trial, including both the potted plant/greenhouse stage and field management stage/once trees are planted. The student would coordinate with research team members on tasks such as irrigation and fertilization, weeding and pest management, potting and inventory of new trees, plantings, data collection, and data analysis. In addition, the student would assist with conducting a literature review on overwintering, up-potting, and transplanting fruit trees in general. Finally, the student would have the opportunity to assist with other components of the Olea Olive Research Project, including propagation trials, working with grower collaborators across Oregon, and Extension field days and workshops.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be expected to work ~10 hours a week on this project from the beginning of Winter 2020 term to the end of the Spring 2020 term depending on funding and work availability. This will consist of both fieldwork and desk/office-based tasks. Duties will include assisting with greenhouse and field management for all trees involved in the up-potting trial, data collection, entry, and analysis, and consulting academic research journals. The student may be given opportunities for more hours and more specific training if they are a good fit for the team and are interested in more work. The student will have a flexible schedule, but will be required to meet with the mentor and other team members once a week to give a progress report and receive training. Scheduling may need to be adjusted depending on weather and the needs of the project. Most student field work will take place at either the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (Aurora, 1 hour drive from campus), or Woodhall Vineyard (Alpine, 30 minute drive from campus). The team typically schedules 1-2 work days per week at either site, and coordinates carpooling at the start of each term, typically with fewer field days in winter and more days on-site in spring.

Skills

Students are expected to have a basic understanding of plant biology and academic research. Previous experience with agriculture, nursery/greenhouse management, and field research is preferred, but not required. Good organization, time-management, communication, and problem-solving will be critical to student success. In addition, the student must have an interest in organic agriculture.

Learning Outcomes

The chosen student will participate in both the management and research aspects of an agricultural experiment, and develop skills relevant to both greenhouse and field production. They will gain an understanding of an emerging cropping system in Oregon, as well as basic skills in irrigation, fertilization, and working with data. The mentor will provide training on research and field trial management basics, organic agriculture, and data collection and analysis, as necessary. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to operate a range of equipment, ranging from hand tools and backpack sprayers, to tractor driving.

Expected start and end date: Start date –Jan 6, 2020. End date –June 12, 2020. Highly encouraged to continue as a summer full-time student researcher.

Anticipated hours per week: 5 hours for the first 2-3 weeks, then 10 hours/week once the team schedule for the term is established

Anticipated hourly wage: $11.25

Strawberry Growth and Development in Alternative Soilless Production Systems

Department: Crop and Soil Science, and Marion County Small Farms Program

Faculty Mentor: Javier Fernandez-Salvador

Abstract

Strawberries in Oregon are a high-value product that can maximize profits through off-season production of local fruit for fresh market. In Europe, growers achieve year-long production through vertical, soilless systems under protection. This project will focus on studying the growth and development of strawberries in alternative systems to develop methods for production in Oregon. This will contribute to the larger work of the Berry Research Initiative, which conducts research to assist our Oregon growers in developing better production practices for Oregon berries. The student will have the option to help develop a research project focused on a specific aspect of Strawberry growth, development, or production practices using alternative systems. The student will work in the greenhouses at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (in Aurora). The chosen student will develop their research project and experimental design in early Winter term, set up and plant the experiment in late winter term, and manage the project and collect data during Spring term. The student will be expected to collaborate and communicate with the entire team, and is highly encouraged to continue as a summer researcher if it is a good fit. 

Project Description

Strawberries for year-long fresh market production are commonly grown in vertical, soilless systems in other parts of the world. These practices help avoid the build-up of soil-borne diseases, reduce labor costs, and enable the efficient and precise control of nutrients and other inputs. The strawberry industry in Oregon is extremely interested in the potential of these systems to produce local Oregon fruit during the times of year when the price premiums are highest and currently only California berries are available. We seek a student to help develop a project related to the production of Strawberry in Oregon using table-top substrate systems. We currently have a demonstration planted and many table-top benches constructed that are ready for the upcoming trial. The student will participate in creating additional clothesline bag-growing systems. Potential projects could focus on comparing conventional and Organic fertilizer, different substrates and mixes (e.g. peat and coco coir), fertigation and irrigation timing, or tray size and arrangement. Students will have the ability to include cultivar as a treatment, selecting among common Oregon day-neutral varieties (e.g. Sweet Ann, Seascape, Albion). This project will allow students to assist in the development of new and exciting production techniques.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be expected to work ~10 hours a week on this project from the beginning of Winter 2020 term to the end of the Spring 2020 term depending on funding and work availability. During this time, the student intern will be expected to spend an estimated total of: (a) 40 hours assisting with the preparation of the study, (b) 100 hours preparing the planting, managing the crop, and collecting data, and (3) 40 hours on campus giving regular progress reports at team meetings and collaborating with student coworkers. Additional duties include literature review, data collection and analysis, and writing up results. The student may be given opportunities for more hours if they are a good fit for the team and are interested in more work. The student will have a flexible schedule, but will be required to meet with the mentor and other team members once a week to give a progress report and receive training. Scheduling may need to be adjusted depending on weather and the needs of the project. Most student field work will take place at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (Aurora, 1 hour drive from campus). The team typically schedules 1-2 work days per week at NWREC and coordinates carpooling at the start of each term, with fewer days at NWREC during project development in winter and more days at NWREC during data collection in spring.

Skills

Students are expected to have a basic understanding of plant biology, academic research, and data collection. Previous experience with field research and knowledge of experimental design, note-taking, and log-keeping is preferred, but not required. Good organization, communication, and problemsolving will be critical to student success. In addition, the student must have an interest in agriculture, especially in the development of new techniques in organic and conventional settings.

Learning Outcomes

The chosen student will actively participate in the development and management of the entire research project, including but not limited to: field preparation, trial set-up, planting and field maintenance, data collection, harvest, analysis, and write-up. The mentor will provide training on research and field trial management basics, study design, and data collection and analysis, as necessary. There will be additional learning opportunities to prepare and develop educational materials and activities based on the results of the trial. Students will likely learn to use hand tools, power tools, and learn strawberry production methods.

Expected start and end date: Start date – Jan 6, 2020. End date – June 12, 2020. Highly encouraged to continue as a summer full-time student researcher.

Anticipated hours per week: 5 hours for the first 2-3 weeks, then 10 hours/week once the team schedule for the term is established

Anticipated hourly wage: $11.25

Organic Strawberry Production and Season Extension Using Low Tunnels

Faculty Mentor: Javier Fernandez-Salvador

Department: Crop and Soil Science, and Marion County Small Farms Program

Abstract

Strawberries in Oregon are a high-value product that provides high-quality, local, flavorful fruit. This project will focus on production of Organic dayneutral strawberries for the fresh-market. This will contribute to the larger work of the Berry Research Initiative, which conducts research to assist our Oregon growers in developing better production practices for Oregon berries. Students have the option to develop a research project focused on a specific aspect of Strawberry crop biology, cultural production practices, or pest management. The student will work in the field at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (in Aurora) on an Organic strawberry plot with low tunnels. The chosen student will develop their research project and experimental design in early Winter term, set up and plant the experiment in late winter term, and manage the field and collect data during Spring term. The student will be expected to collaborate and communicate with the entire team, and is highly encouraged to continue as a summer researcher if it is a good fit.  

Project Description

Strawberries for fresh market are commonly grown on raised beds in plasticulture to achieve better weed management, temperature regulation, and water drainage. These strawberry cultivars are “day-neutral” and therefore produce fruit all season long, beginning in late-May and continuing through early October depending on the season’s weather conditions. This harvest period can be extended, and the fruit quality improved, through the use of angled beds, low tunnels for frost and precipitation protection, and optimized pest-management practices. Growers who use Organic practices can achieve significant price premiums on their fruit, as the demand for local, Organic strawberries remains high and the production does not meet the levels of demand. We seek a student to help develop a project related to the production of Organic Strawberry in the Willamette Valley. We currently have one established field with low tunnels, and we intend to plant a second field for the 2020 season. Potential projects could focus on biological management practices including fertilizer application, the use of cover crops in aisles, soil solarization to control weeds, bed-shape, or renovation timing for plant renewal and optimized yield; cultural practices including low tunnel type or conventional plastic mulch versus biodegradable mulches; and pest management including Organic methods for lygus bug (bug vacuum, pesticides). Students will have the ability to include cultivar as a treatment, selecting among common Oregon day-neutral varieties (e.g. Sweet Ann, Seascape, Albion).

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be expected to work ~10 hours a week on this project from the beginning of Winter 2020 term to the end of the Spring 2020 term depending on funding and work availability. During this time, the student intern will be expected to spend an estimated total of: (a) 40 hours assisting with the preparation of the study, (b) 100 hours preparing the planting, managing the crop, and collecting data, and (3) 40 hours on campus giving regular progress reports at team meetings and collaborating with student coworkers. Additional duties include literature review, data collection and analysis, and writing up results. The student may be given opportunities for more hours if they are a good fit for the team and are interested in more work. The student will have a flexible schedule, but will be required to meet with the mentor and other team members once a week to give a progress report and receive training. Scheduling may need to be adjusted depending on weather and the needs of the project. Most student field work will take place at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (Aurora, 1 hour drive from campus). The team typically schedules 1-2 work days per week at NWREC and coordinates carpooling at the start of each term, with fewer days at NWREC during project development in winter and more days at NWREC during data collection in spring.  

Skills

Students are expected to have a basic understanding of plant biology, academic research, and data collection. Previous experience with field research and knowledge of experimental design, note-taking, and log-keeping is preferred, but not required. Good organization, communication, and problem solving will be critical to student success. In addition, the student must have an interest in agriculture, especially in the development of new techniques in a Certified Organic setting. 

Learning Outcomes

The chosen student will actively participate in the development and management of the entire research project, including but not limited to: field preparation, trial set-up, planting and field maintenance, data collection, harvest, analysis, and write-up. The mentor will provide training on research and field trial management basics, study design, and data collection and analysis, as necessary. There will be additional learning opportunities to prepare and develop educational materials and activities based on the results of the trial. Students will likely learn to use hand tools, power tools, and learn strawberry production methods.

Expected start and end date: Start date – Jan 6, 2020. End date – June 12, 2020. Highly encouraged to continue as a summer full-time student researcher.

Anticipated hours per week: 5 hours for the first 2-3 weeks, then 10 hours/week once the team schedule for the term is established

Anticipated hourly wage: $11.25

Evaluation of mycotoxins in Florida forages

Department: Environmental & Molecular Toxicology

Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Duringer

Abstract

Concerns over livestock health issues that recently developed in cattle, equine and wildlife in the state of Florida, USA lead to questions surrounding the safety of pasture forages that those animals were consuming. A collaboration was formed between extension agents and researchers that resulted in a project whose objective is to survey common Florida grass forages for mycotoxins and the fungi that produce them across the state, and at multiple times of the year. My group is responsible for utilizing an LC-MS/MS multi-mycotoxin method to evaluate the presence and quantity of 50 mycotoxins. Grass species include bahiagrass, bermudagrass, limpograss and smutgrass. Students will gain experience in grinding grass samples, extracting with organic solvents, and preparation for analysis by mass spectrometry. Students will be operating the mass spectrometer and its associated software and analyze samples against standard curves for the mycotoxins under investigation. Relationships between mycotoxin concentration, grass species, sampling location and date will be delineated with correlative statistics. This work will contribute to developing more targeted investigations as to whether or not the mycotoxins/fungi identified are associated with the reduction in animal health and performance that are being observed on Florida ranches, and if so, what the mechanism may be.

Project Description

Safety training as maintained by our laboratory and the guidelines of OSU will be the first priority. Once the student has completed safety training, we will begin with the project described. The student will be working with myself to process approximately 100 samples for analysis of mycotoxins via liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. I will train and be with them every step of the way; work flow will include sample grinding, weighing, extraction with organic solvents, separation via centrifugation, drying down to concentrate under nitrogen, reconstitution in mobile phase, injection onto the mass spectrometer, analysis of sample data by comparing to standards for quantitation, processing of data into Excel or statistical programs, and summary of the data for reporting to collaborators. This project will allow the student to gain skills in analytical chemistry, with a project that encompasses toxicology, food safety and livestock health. This project will be performed on the Corvallis campus of OSU.

Description of Student Responsibilities    

Students will first undergo all appropriate safety training for working in the laboratory. Then they will begin working with samples, performing the duties of grinding, organic extraction, concentration, preparation for mass spectrometry analysis, data interpretation and statistical analysis. It is best to do each of those tasks in time chunks of at least 3 hours. If two 4 hour shifts per week could be arranged, that would be ideal. In general, we will progress through each of those tasks one at a time, with my oversight every step of the way. Students will also be expected to perform tasks that keep the lab operational such as dishes, taking out the trash, general lab clean-up, maintenance of instrumentation they are using and other related operations.

Skills

Skills required -Willingness to learn and excitement about food safety and toxicology. -Punctual, ability to work independently but communicate when help or advise is needed. Skills acquired -Wet laboratory bench skills including pipetting, weighing, operation of small lab equipment such as centrifuges, chemical extraction apparatus, and nitrogen evaporator -Organization of samples and data -Chemical extraction -Analysis of samples via mass spectrometry including data interpretation and quantitation -Integration of data into Excel and statistical programs for summary information

Learning Outcomes

Students will gain skills in analytical chemistry, toxicology and food safety and gain a broader understanding of how all of those components are interrelated. Students will also relate what we do in the lab to agriculture in general and how all of the pieces depend on and work together to make it a viable industry.

Expected start and end date: January 6, 2020 - February 28, 2020

Anticipated hours per week: 8

Anticipated hourly wage: $12

Oceanographic impacts on Black Rockfish body condition and reproduction

Department: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Scott Heppell

Abstract:

The goal of this project is to investigate how ocean processes, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, marine heat waves, and upwelling, influence the body condition of Black Rockfish in the northeast Pacific. Prey quality and availability is driven by these processes and may impact the overall energy storage of Black Rockfish. Seasonal storage of energy reserves is important for metabolic activities, reproduction, somatic growth, and overall life history of fishes. Using proximate analysis methods, we will quantify the seasonal variability of body condition of male and female Black Rockfish. Quantifying patterns of lipid storage as well as variation in these patterns is important as changes in body condition may influence reproductive potential and overall productivity.

Project Description:

Participation in this project will involve both field work and lab work. Field work consists of taking biological samples (otoliths, gonads, muscle tissue) from Black Rockfish caught on recreational fishing charters. Sampling will occur when the recreational fishing charters are scheduled to fish, which is mostly on Saturdays or Sundays, so the student researcher should be available to help sample on at least one weekend day per month. While sampling at the port (of Newport, OR), the student researcher will interact with recreational fishing charter captains, crew, and customers. Sampling at the port will be a great experience for learning how to communicate science to the public and for working alongside non-scientists who are also trying to get their jobs done. Lab work is focused on determining the age and body condition of Black Rockfish. Otoliths will be sectioned and the number of annuli on one otolith section per fish will be counted. Muscle tissue samples will be weighed and dried in a drying oven until a constant mass is achieved and then samples will be homogenized. Lipids will be extracted using a mixture of polar and non-polar solvents in a Soxhlet apparatus. Extracted lean samples will then be dried and re-weighed and total lipid calculated.

Description of Student Responsibilities

Field work will take place at the port of Newport, based out of the Hatfield Marine Science Center. If the student is engaging in field work, the day’s responsibilities may include: 1. Assisting in sampling preparation (labeling vials, preparing datasheet). 2. With help from faculty mentor or graduate student, taking biological samples (otoliths, gonads, muscle tissue) from ~24 Black Rockfish caught on recreational fishing charters. 3. Clean-up after sampling. Lab work will take place on the Corvallis campus. If the student is engaging in lab work, the day’s responsibilities may include: 1. Sectioning otoliths on a diamond saw, mounting and polishing otoliths for age determination 2. Aging Black Rockfish by counting annulus rings on otoliths under a microscope. 3. Preparing muscle tissue samples for lipid extraction and running Soxlet apparatus to determine fat and protein content.

Student Skills and Tasks:

No pre-existing skills necessary. Student researchers will acquire the following skills during the research project: 1. Data organization. 2. Species identification for rockfish. 3. Biological sampling including otoliths, gonads, and muscle tissue. 4. Age determination for Black Rockfish by counting annuli on otoliths. 5. Lipid extraction techniques from muscle tissue using proximate analysis protocol.

Student Learning Outcomes:

1. Student researcher will learn about how to develop research questions and how to create a sampling design to answer those questions. 2. Student researcher will learn how to communicate science to the public. 3. Student researcher will learn how to work alongside non-scientists who are also trying to get their jobs done. 4. Student researcher will learn biological sampling techniques relevant to a career in fisheries science. 5. Student researcher will learn laboratory techniques relevant to a career in fisheries science. 6. Student researcher will learn how to quantitatively assess body composition through lipid extraction/proximate analysis.

Expected start and end date: February 3, 2020 - May 4, 2020

Anticipated hours per week: 5 hrs/week for 10 weeks

Anticipated hourly wage: $15

Sperm protein reactive anti-sperm antibodies (SPRASA) in horse ovarian follicles

Faculty Mentor: Michelle Kutzler

Department: Animal and Rangeland Sciences

Abstract

In the United States, the wild horse and burro population has drastically exceeded the carrying capacity of the public lands where they are managed. Current contraceptive methods for female horses include surgical (removal of ovaries), hormonal (progestogen, gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)), and immunologic (porcine zona pellucida, GnRH) methods. With the exception of surgery, all the listed methods are temporary, short term solutions. A permanent immunologic method that targets ovarian primordial follicles would be an ideal, nonsurgical solution. Sperm Protein Reactive with Anti-Sperm Antibody (SPRASA) is present in all stages of ovarian follicles. Research has shown SPRASA is localized to granulosa cells and oocyte cytoplasma in humans, mice, cows, dogs, and cats. We hypothesize that SPRASA would also be present in equine ovarian follicles. Routine immunohistochemistry has been performed on formalin fixed paraffin embedded ovarian sections from one horse to determine the optimal antibody dilution. Results show that SPRASA the 1:200 antibody dilution results in the strongest signal with the least amount of nonspecific staining. This proposed research will expand the sample size (from 1 to 20 horses) as well as determine if SPRASA is expressed in primordial, primary, secondary and pre-ovulatory ovarian follicles in horses. This research can provide a foundation for the development of a new contraceptive vaccine for the control of wild horse and burro populations.

Project Description

Tissue samples previously obtained from the left and right ovaries of wild horse mares managed by the Bureau of Land Management (n=20) will be used for this research. Ovarian tissue was fixed in 10% buffered formalin and stored at 4°C. Fixed tissue was paraffin-embedded and three serial 5-μm sections were cut from each paraffin block and mounted on charged slides. For this project, routine immunohistochemistry will be performed. Briefly, slides will be deparaffinized in xylene and rehydrated in a graded ethanol series (100%, 75%, 50%). Antigen retrieval will be conducted by incubating sections in a citrate buffer (Target Retrieval Solution #S1699, Dako North America Inc., Carpinteria, CA) in a microwave for 10 minutes and cooled for 20 minutes. Slides will be then washed in buffer (Wash Buffer #S3006, Dako North America Inc.), and blocked for actions of tissue-specific endogenous peroxidases was inhibited by incubating slides 3% hydrogen peroxide, and diluted at 1:10. Slides will be washed again in buffer, and blocked for 20 minutes at room temperature with serum free protein (Protein Block Serum-Free ready to use #X0909, Dako North America Inc.). Subsequently, slides will be tapped off and a 1:200 dilution of primary antibody (SPACA3 Rabbit Polyclonal antibody #21137-1-AP, Proteintech, Rosemont, CA) in antibody diluent (with Background Reducing Components #S3022, Dako North America Inc.) will be applied and incubated at room temperature for 105 minutes. One adjacent section will be processed with a negative control antibody (Negative Control Rabbit IgG #NC495H, Biocare Medical, Pacheco, CA) and the other adjacent section will be stained with hematoxylin and eosin for histologic orientation. Afterwards, slides will be washed in buffer several times and a secondary antibody (One Step Horse Radish Peroxidase-Conjugated Polymer Anti-Rabbit IgG, #IH-8064-OSU-15, Immuno BiosCience, Mukilteo, WA) will be applied to each slide and incubated at room temperature for 30 minutes; and washed after incubation. VECTOR NovaRED (#SK4800, Vector Laboratories Inc., Burlingame, CA) will be then applied to each slide and incubated at room temperature for 5 minutes. Sections will be counter stained in hematoxylin, dehydrated in a graded series of ethanol (50%, 75%, 100%), moved through a series of three xylene baths, and cover slipped. Slides will be evaluated by a single observer at 10X and 40X magnification with a Leica DM4000B microscope using bright field microscopy. Representative images from each ovary will be digitally captured using a QImaging camera (QICAM 12-BIT, #QIC-F-M-12-C, QImaging, Surrey, British Columbia) and QCapturePro image capture software. The histologic pattern on SPRASA immunoexpression will be compared between type of follicle and the estimated age of mare using GraphPad Software. Tukey’s multiple comparison test will be used to test for significant differences (p<0.05).

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student be will responsible for maintaining a lab notebook summarizing the daily research/work activities. Initial research will focus on becoming familiar with the laboratory technique and using the microscope. Then, the student will perform the experiments initially with supervision and later on their own. Results (research in progress) will be summarized in an abstract and presented as a poster during Spring term.

Skills

The student should be able to maintain good records within a lab notebook. The student must complete the university required training for laboratory and chemical safety. A positive attitude, good communication skills, and a dependable work ethic are essential to this position. Preferred skills would include proper use of research pipettes and previous work with volatile and noxious chemical.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this research experience, the student will: 1. be able to explain the horse's estrous cycle 2. know current methods for contracepting female wildhorses and understand the strengths/weaknesses of these methods. 3. be able to safely work with laboratory equipment and volatile chemicals 4. know the basic principles of immunohistochemistry and how to troubleshoot problems 5. be able to capture and describe microscopic images 6. know how to use Excel to analyze results 7. be able to communicate results in both written (abstract/poster) and oral forms

Expected start and end date: January 6, 2020 - June 5, 2020

Anticipated hours per week: 3-5

Anticipated hourly wage: $11.25

Weed Management in Organic Perennial Cropping Systems

Faculty Mentor: Marcelo Moretti

Department: Horticulture

Abstract

Perennial cropping systems face unique challenges when it comes to weed management, and even more so when these systems are certified organic. Organic weed control options include cultural practices, mechanical/physical methods, as well as approved chemical options. This project will focus on developing a comprehensive weed control plan for research plots including organic olives and strawberries, as part of both the Olea Olive Research Project, and the Berry Research Initiative.The student will work in the field at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (in Aurora) with occasional work at the Woodhall Vineyard (in Alpine),in organic olive and strawberry plots. The chosen student will assist with the creation of along term management plan for weed control in multiple research trials, as well as collecting and analyzing data for a trial specifically evaluating organic weed control options. The student will be expected to collaborate and communicate with the entire team, and is highly encouraged to continue as a summer researcher if it is a good fit.

Project Description

The Olea Olive Research Project and Berry Research Initiative focus on organic production of high-value perennial crops in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Weed control is consistently identified by growers as one of the largest expenses in organic production. Perennial crops add another layer of complexity to managing weed populations over time. At the same time, organic growers today may have more options than in past decades, with the development of specialized equipment and organic-approved herbicides. We seek a student to assist with the long term weed control planning and management in both organic olive and strawberry experimental plots. Between the two research sites, we manage five olive fields, and one to two strawberry fields depending on the season. All fields are either organically certified, or not certified but managed organically and eligible for certification. The student would conduct a literature review on integrated weed control in these perennial crops, and help design and implement a plan for managing and reducing weed presence in all fields. Additionally, the student would assist with an experimental trial comparing organic weed control options, helping evaluate plots, collect biomass, analyze data, and summarize findings.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be expected to work ~10 hours a week on this project from the beginning of Winter 2020 term to the end of the Spring 2020 term depending on funding and work availability.This will consist of both fieldwork and desk/office-based tasks. Duties will include consulting academic research journals and other resources, creating a timeline of weed management tasks, assisting with weed control tasks for each field, data collection and analysis, and writing up results. The student may be given opportunities for more hours and more specific training if they are a good fit for the team and are interested in more work. The student will have a flexible schedule, but will be required to meet with the mentor and other team members once a week to give a progress report and receive training. Scheduling may need to be adjusted depending on weather and the needs of the project. Most student field work will take place at either the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (Aurora, 1 hour drive from campus), or Woodhall Vineyard (Alpine, 30 minute drive from campus). The team typically schedules 1-2 work days per week at either site, and coordinates carpooling at the start of each term, typically with fewer field days in winter and more days on-site in spring.

Skills

Students are expected to have a basic understanding of plant biology and academic research. Previous experience with agriculture, plant identification, and field research is preferred, but not required. Good organization, time-management, communication, and problem-solving will be critical to student success. In addition, the student must have an interest in organic agriculture.

Learning Outcomes

The chosen student will participate in the long-term planning and day to day management of an agricultural research site, and develop skills relevant to both field research and production farming. They will gain an understanding of multiple cropping systems, including organic olives and strawberries. The mentor will provide training on research and field trial management basics,organic agriculture, and data collection and analysis, as necessary. Students will likely learn how to operate a range of mechanical weed control tools, ranging from hand tools to tractor implements.

Expected start and end date: Jan 6, 2020. End date –June 12, 2020. Highly encouraged to continue as a summer full-time student researcher.

Anticipated hours per week: 5 hours for the first 2-3 weeks, then 10 hours/week once the team schedule for the term is established

Anticipated hourly wage: $11.25