Research Projects by Subject

Note: Each research project will involve background reading for the interns provided by their mentors. Each research project will involve a final presentation by the interns.

Interns are expected to work collaboratively on the same project and/or data set. This may preclude rising seniors from submitting papers based on such projects to the Intel Science Talent Search competition.

Ocean Sciences

Code Research Project Descriptions
OCS-01 Title: Phytoplankton and Bacterial Communication in the Presence of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the Santa Cruz Wharf
Primary mentor: Terrill Yazzie
Faculty advisor: Prof. Marilou Sison-Mangus
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) comprise a group of over 100 compounds that are ubiquitous in the environment and are found in the water and sediments of Monterey Bay. PAHs are generated from the partial combustion of petroleum products and/or organic matter. These compounds are carcinogenic to mammals, are not water soluble, and are persistent to environmental degradation. Several phytoplankton and bacterial species have been identified as potential PAH degraders, and utilize inter-communication chemical signaling to breakdown these organic compounds. Under stress, phytoplankton produces lipids that can interact with the PAHs and solubilize them which could make them accessible to the bacteria. The mentor would like to understand if the potential for marine bacteria to breakdown PAHs is mediated by a chemical signal from phytoplankton by way of their lipid production.

Tasks: The SIP interns will gain background knowledge of what processes microbes and phytoplankton carry out in the marine environment. They will also learn about some of the media used to grow these microorganisms in the mentor's lab, and will have the chance to prepare these nutrient sources to learn about bacterial nutritional requirements. The interns will also carry out the molecular biological technique of polymerase chain reaction, and learn how genetic sequences are used in identification and gene exploring. The interns will also be exposed to lab functions, such as how to handle biological and chemical waste, aseptic technique, chemical storage and handling.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 12, 2017.