Coastal & Environmental Fellowship Projects 2017
Control of Gastrointestinal Parasites in Small Ruminants Students will be working as part of a team characterizing the efficacy of alternative feedstuffs and plant compounds such as the legume birdsfoot trefoil and cranberry vine for the control of gastrointestinal parasites in sheep. Students will be trained in parasitological techniques in the laboratory, study design and will gain experience in the handling and care of sheep and goats. Lamb feeding trials using cranberry vine and birdsfoot trefoil will be conducted. This summer the students will also be involved in a URI Field Day on Alternative Methods for Small Ruminant Parasite Control.
Evolutionary genetics of lizard invasions Biological invasions are an ecological and economic concern but they also present exciting research opportunities that may tell us something about how basic ecological and evolutionary processes shape patterns of diversity within species and communities. Studies using molecular genetic tools are particularly useful in this endeavor allowing for example the reconstruction of invasion history and identification of the geographic origin of non-native populations and further tests for a loss (due to founder events) or gains (due to multiple introductions and admixture) of genetic diversity in relation to native populations. Such changes in population genetic structure should influence the evolutionary trajectory of populations, especially when established in novel environments. The student will use existing tissue samples collected from invasive Anolis wattsi populations in Trinidad and their native range in Antigua. The aims of this project are to 1) identify native sources of the invasive populations and 2) assess the amount of genetic diversity introduced and the occurrence of multiple introductions as well as evidence for population admixture (i.e., introductions of individuals from genetically and geographically distinct sources).
We will provide full training in molecular biology techniques (DNA extraction, DNA quantification, gel electrophoresis and DNA sequencing), analyses of genetic data and interpretation of results. No prior laboratory experience is required, just enthusiasm for research!
Role of the DlxB gene in development of the sea squirt C. intestinalis This goal of this project is to use transgenic techniques to analyze the function of DllB in C. intestinalis. This marine organism is conducive to the study of how genes control developmental processes. The work will be primarily in the laboratory, but will also involve some animal care at the Bay Campus aquarium, and collection of animals in southern RI. Experience in basic molecular biology lab work is a plus, but not required.
Effects of urbanization and invasion on hatchling phenotypes of Anolis lizards The coastal fellow will assist the graduate student identifying how urbanization and biological invasion effect the phenotypes of the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) using a common garden experimental design. There is also a possibility to participate in field work conducted in South Florida for approximately 1 month during the fellowship period. Ability to work in less than ideal field conditions (hot, wet, buggy) and interests in herpetology or global change biology a plus.
Cell & Molecular Biology
Antimicrobial Peptides from Winter Flounder This project involves a fair amount of Bioinformatics research looking into the evolution of antimicrobial peptides and comparing conserved regions that we will then incorporate into new peptide sequences that we will make using solid-phase peptide synthesis. The resulting peptides will be screened for antimicrobial activity. Alternatively, the peptides will be modeled using molecular dynamics simulations and their structures investigated using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, circular dichroism spectrophotometry, and mass spectrometry.
Transformation efficiency in Thermus thermophilus This Coastal Fellows project will allow a student to test the ability of mutant strains of the thermophile T. thermophilus to pick up and integrate DNA into their genomes. This fits into the lab's larger goal of characterizing variations in genes for competence across the bacterial phylogeny. During the fellowship, the student will learn to cultivate thermophile and mesophiles, molecular techniques including PCR, site-directed mutagenesis and vector construction with Gibson Assembly. The student will also come away with a solid understanding of how to design a vector and how to design experiments to address a research question. Students should have taken BIO 101-104 to be eligible.
Fisheries & Aquaculture
Using probiotics to manage algal cultures in shellfish hatcheries
The long-term goal of this project is to develop new commercial products to prevent pathogen contamination of bivalve aquaculture feedstocks. Our specific project objective is testing the safety and efficacy of promising marine bacteria to eliminate vibrios in microalgal cultures and determine if microalgae can be used as effective delivery tools for delivering probiotics to bivalve larvae in hatcheries. Students will learn experimental design, microbiological techniques, and to perform growth and survival experiments with both algae and shellfish larvae. Most of the work will be in a laboratory setting, with potential with some collaborative work at a shellfish hatchery.
Characterization of mantle rocks using XRD and FTIR methods. This Coastal Fellow will work on the characterization of minerals to be deployed in field experiments in ultramafic rock aquifers in northern CA, USA. Duties include rock polishing and powdering, use of x-ray diffraction and infrared spectroscopy tools to confirm mineral type and purity, and testing of mineral surface response to low temperature experiments with seawater and Rhode Island groundwater as proof of concept. Specific skills: The intern will have taken GEO103 prior to Summer 2017. It is desirable that the intern will also have taken GEO320, but students who are willing to do extra preparatory reading etc will be considered. This position involves primarily laboratory work. A motivated student can work with Prof Cardace to win a travel award (due in February) to participate in field work in northern CA in summer 2017.
Testing the Synchroneity of the Adamanian-Revueltian boundary, Late Triassic, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA The Adamanian-Revuetian Land Vertebrate Faunachron boundary is supposed to represent a key terrestrial vertebrate (tetrapod) faunal turnover, preserved in the Late Triassic of Petrified Forest National Park (PEFO), AZ. It has been causally linked, with little actual evidence, to the Manicouagan Impact Crater event. The idea is take the highly refined, geochronologic "backbone" published by Ramezani et al. (2011), and precisely tie the known vertebrate faunas from PEFO into the backbone, allowing us to date their occurrence(s) precisely. Then, using statistical treatments developed with Gavino Puggioni (Department of Computer Science & Statistics, URI), we test the hypothesis that the faunal turnover is synchronous (and instantaneous), thereby testing its possible relationship to the Manicouagan Impact, whose date is also precisely known. To link the turnover event with the impact, it must have occurred synchronously, or the claim is obviously not sustainable. PEFO is the only place in the world where this particular faunal turnover is well-preserved, and the resources available in PEFO have been made available to us so that we can carry out this study.
How do offshore wind farms affect resource users? The Coastal Fellow would work with a team of graduate students, faculty and RI DEM staff to (1) conduct in person interviews with recreational and commercial fishermen in RI; (2) transcribe and analyze qualitative interview data, and (2) help to collect and analyze data from a mail survey of recreational boaters. The position involves a combination of field work (interviews with resource users) and computer-based data entry & analysis.
Survey of Attitudes towards the Block Island Wind Farm Summer 2017 marks the third year in which I will survey Block Island visitors and residents regarding attitudes towards the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF). The BIWF is the first offshore wind farm to be constructed in the United States, making it an interesting laboratory for studying public sentiments towards the technology. This research is focused on social-psychological factors and beliefs about the wind farm that lead people to support or oppose the project. This project entails traveling to Block Island twice per week, spending time in designated public areas, and asking strangers to complete a paper survey. During this work, researchers frequently answer questions about the research project and the wind farm. Once returning to the mainland, researchers input data from completed surveys.
Abundance and distribution of coastal sharks in Rhode Island waters Sharks play an important role in marine ecosystems and their patterns of abundance and distribution greatly influence marine communities through their interactions with other organisms. Changes in water temperature over the past several decades have resulted in changes to patterns of abundance and distribution of many marine organisms with resultant alterations to marine communities, particularly in the form of species composition. Information about the species of sharks that inhabit Rhode Island waters has been derived primarily derived from offshore recreational fishing and bottom trawl surveys, which largely target oceanic and small demersal species. Large coastal species of sharks are occasionally encountered in recreational and commercial fisheries but patterns of occurrence of these species have not been quantified through systematic surveys in Rhode Island waters. This project will consist of bi-weekly standardized fishing surveys for inshore sharks within Rhode Island waters. The student will work as part of a team to carry out the surveys, tagging the sharks and recording information on their biology. The project also includes substantial analyses of catch data to quantify composition of inshore shark fauna and to characterize temporal and spatial patterns of their distribution in local waters. Long hours on a small boat, sometimes in less than ideal conditions will be required. Transportation to local docks preferred.
Impact of Climate Change on Bioinvasion risk from Transfer and Disposal of Inactive Navy Vessels This project is a collaboration between URI/GSO and the United States Navy to study the potential risk of invasive species transfer associated with current U.S. Navy practices for the transfer and disassembly (scrapping) of retired navy vessels. We aim to develop a set of best practices for Navy Environmental Stewardship associated with this process, and to understand how those best practices may change with a changing climate. The coastal fellow's work on this project will primarily be in assisting with the execution of a laboratory study where simulated hull panels will be exposed to varied environmental conditions to assess how this impacts the fouling community on the panels. There will also be a substantial literature review component to the project. The Coastal Fellow may be able to analyze and present a subset of this data for their Coastal Fellow Project, or may develop and conduct an independent research project investigating one of many secondary research questions.
Impact of Chronic Low Frequency Noise on Invertebrate Behavior and Physiology This is a follow on study to a previous United States Navy funded study investigating the impact of acute low and mid-frequency sound on commercially important New England Invertebrates (crab and lobster). This study revealed several sub-lethal acute behavior and physiological responses to acute sound exposure. However, in order to fully understand the environmental impact of marine noise, we also need to understand the long term impact of chronic exposure, particularly to low frequency noise (e.g. pile driving, boat noise). The Coastal fellow will participate in lab, field, and literature review phases of this project, culminating in the identification of an independent research project which they will be responsible for designing, executing, and analyzing, and which will become the topic of their Coastal Fellowship Poster.
Seasonal Harmful Phytoplankton in Narragansett Bay The student will participate in a Sea-Grant research project investigating the source of Harmful Algae in Narragansett Bay. This position includes a nice mix of hands-on activities: water and plankton sampling on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, shellfish collection, plankton identification at the microscope, and possibly some laboratory testing of the toxin responsible for Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning. The student should have an interest in field work, and preferentially a modicum of knowledge of phytoplankton, and microscopy.
Natural Resource Sciences
Landscape effects on American Woodcock resource selection and habitat use The focus of this project is to map the habitat selection and habitat use of American Woodcock as it relates to the landscape location of active habitat management in the state of Rhode Island. During the mid-1990â€™s, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management began efforts to develop young forest habitats for American Woodcock and other disturbance-dependent wildlife at state-owned management areas. These efforts were initiated in response to the long-term declines exhibited by many young forest species. This project will compare the different management strategies that the state has used in order to stop early-successional wildlife population declines. We will investigate if woodcock select and use habitat differently in management areas that are surrounded by optimum habitat versus management areas that are surrounded by less than optimum habitat. The methods of this research will focus heavily on tracking birds in order to map their home ranges and quantify habitat use, habitat selection, and mortality. We will band and attach radio transmitters to 30-40 American woodcock during spring evenings and will continue to track and monitor each individual 3-4 times a week throughout the summer. We will also band and track 30-40 Eastern towhees throughout the summer.
This project will involve an extensive amount of fieldwork in adverse field conditions, and the ability to tolerate long, hot days filled with biting insects and bushwhacking. The successful candidate must have a good attitude, be able to tolerate the often difficult field conditions, and will also have good computer data management skills. Previous experience with radio telemetry, mist-netting, habitat measurement, and using GPS will be helpful. The project will last from May through September 2017.
DPW GIS Sewer Project The Pawtucket DPW is interested in having a Coastal Fellow work with us over the summer on numerous projects involving GIS. Our priority is mapping the city sewers, both combined and separate. The project would involve field work to verify connections, digitizing and data entry of sewer information, database design, GIS analysis and creation of neworks. We need the student to have basic GIS skills. The position is primarily office work with some field work.
Watershed assessments with high frequency water quality sensors With climate change more extreme weather events are forecasted for the northeastern US. Water quality sensors offer the unique ability to collect high frequency data in extreme events. For three years, the URI Watershed Hydrology Lab (WHL) has operated an integrated network of advanced water sensors to gather real-time, high-frequency water quality data to understand the drivers of local and regional water quality. These sensors are a promising tool to learn more about aquatic ecosystems at temporal and spatial scales previously untenable. The results will contribute to improved water quality management for drinking water reservoirs and estuaries. This summer, our Coastal Fellow will immerse him/herself in cutting-edge, high-tech stream water quality monitoring. Activities will include: maintaining and calibrating the sensors, measuring water flow, collecting grab samples, retrieving automatically collected water samples, processing water samples for several parameters in the lab, and exploring data management and synthesis. There may be opportunities to use sensors to assess differences in water quality responses from different watershed land uses, impacts in stream metabolism due to gypsy moth defoliation or changes in water quality before and after dam removal.
We would like to have a student with experience is Microsoft Office products, able to carry heavy equipment, willing to stream sample in inclement weather conditions, able to swim, able to periodic driving to research site in own vehicle with mileage reimbursement, and detailed-oriented. Hydrology, GIS or electronics experience or coursework is a plus. Position will be a mix of field, lab and data analysis work.
URI Watershed Watch URI Watershed Watch (WW) is a Cooperative Extension volunteer water quality monitoring program in the Natural Resources Science Department. We are the largest volunteer monitoring/citizen science program in RI. There are ~300 volunteers in the program, 2 staff and 3-4 students. Each year we take on 1-2 Coastal Fellows as student staff. Coastal Fellows are fully integrated into all aspects of the program, from training new volunteers, field monitoring, lab analyses, and data entry to helping out with public outreach. Fellows may choose a project that advances or expands core WW programs, such as cyanobacteria monitoring, microbiology or pollution projects, or advanced lake water quality research. Alternatively, Fellows may work directly with coastal or river watershed organizations on a project of the organizationâ€™s choosing. Qualifications: Ability to work in a group as well as independently. Comfortable working in a laboratory and also outside. Good computer skills, Excel in particular, are extremely helpful. Must have a valid driverâ€™s license and be able to swim. Attention to details, willingness to read and follow directions and an interest in working with a diverse clientele (our volunteers) and staff are preferred. Interest in water quality, salt or fresh. Interest & courses in the sciences, biological or physical.
New England Cottontail Conservation Genetics The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) is a species of conservation concern and the focus of a multi-agency and multi-institutional effort to conserve the species. The drastic decline in the distribution of New England cottontail in the Northeast region of the US precipitated the establishment of a captive breeding program in 2011 at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, which was subsequently expanded in 2015 to include the Queens Zoo in Corona, New York. In 2012, captive born New England cottontails were released on Patience Island in the upper bay of Narragansett Bay. The population has done well on the island and a population estimate was conducted in 2015 by extracting DNA from fecal samples and identifying individuals using molecular genetic markers. In 2016, New England cottontail from Patience Island and captive born were released at the Great Swamp Management Area in West Kingston, RI. This project would primarily include learning conservation genetic techniques to extract DNA from fecal samples and identify individuals to estimate the population size of New England cottontail on Patience Island and determine if New England cottontail at Great Swamp have bred. This information will help state biologists conserve the species in RI and support the larger regional effort to conserve New England cottontail. The location of the laboratory work would be at the Wildlife Genetics and Ecology Laboratory in the Coastal Institute on URIâ€™s main campus. Preferred skills are experience conducting molecular genetic laboratory work and computer analyses, but these skills can be taught.
New England Cottontail Telemetry and Habitat The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) is a species of conservation concern and the focus of a multi-agency and multi-institutional effort to conserve the species. The drastic decline in the distribution of New England cottontail in the Northeast region of the US precipitated the establishment of a captive breeding program in 2011 at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, which was subsequently expanded in 2015 to include the Queens Zoo in Corona, New York. In 2012, captive born New England cottontails were released on Patience Island in the upper bay of Narragansett Bay. In 2016, New England cottontail from Patience Island and captive born were released at the Great Swamp Management Area in West Kingston, RI. This project would include conducting radio telemetry on released cottontails at Great Swamp to determine their home range, movements, and habitat selection. The project also will include characterizing the habitat at Great Swamp, which has been managed at different times in the past and represents various stages of early successional habitat. The applicant will work closely with state biologists at RI Department of Environmental Management and personnel from URI. This information will help state biologists conserve the species in RI and support the larger regional effort to conserve New England cottontail. The location of the work would be in the field and could potentially include assisting in the release of captive born New England cottontails. Preferred skills are experience conducting radio telemetry, fieldwork to characterize habitat, course work in botany, computer analyses, and enthusiasm for working outdoors in difficult to navigate habitat (i.e., traversing through densely vegetated areas with prickly bushes and poison ivy while still smiling!).
Laboratory of Soil Ecology and Microbiology - Wastewater in southern New England The Laboratory of Soil Ecology and Microbiology (PI: José Amador) is accepting applications for two 20-hourCoastal Fellow positions for the summer of 2017. Fellows will have the opportunity to work on three different PhD student projects: Alissa Cox: “Effect of sea level rise on coastal onsite wastewater treatment systems, and plant-based mitigation strategies” This project is investigating changes in groundwater tables along the southern RI coast, as affected by sea level rise. Rising groundwater tables are expected to reduce the amount of soil available to treat wastewater under onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS, also known as septic systems), before entering the groundwater. This component of the project involves fieldwork (ground-penetrating radar (GPR), groundwater sample collections, site visits) and potential lab analyses of groundwater samples (based on Coastal Fellows’ interests). A second component of this project is investigating the ability of different plant species to withstand sub-surface irrigation with raw septic tank effluent. This is a greenhouse-based experiment, and involves plant care and maintenance in a greenhouse, wastewater collection at a nearby home, and may include lab analyses (depending on Coastal Fellows’ interests). Coastal Fellows working with this project may also help construct mesocosms from raw materials in preparation for the next phase of the experiment. Bianca Ross: “Nitrogen cycling and microbial diversity of advanced onsite wastewater treatment systems” This project will focus on the study of wastewater in advanced nitrogen removal onsite wastewater treatment systems. The coastal fellow will assist in monitoring system parameters in the field, including nitrogen content, pH, and temperature. In addition, the fellow will assist in laboratory analysis of the wastewater obtained from these systems. Analyses will investigate wastewater nitrogen and microbial communities. Sara Wigginton: “Factors and mechanisms controlling Nitrogen removal from residential wastewater” The aim of this project is to investigate how advanced soil treatment (AST) systems affect N removal and transformation in on-site wastewater systems. We will be investigating how system design, soil properties, water quality, and microbial community assemblage alters N removal. We will also be monitoring N2O (a potent greenhouse gas) emissions-- a common byproduct of N removal from wastewater. A portion of the study may involve field sampling in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, but the bulk of the research will occur at URI. A major component of this project will be assessing the microbial community (who drive N transformations) through molecular lab work. We are looking for candidates with the following qualifications / interests / willingness to learn: • Interest in wastewater, nitrogen cycling, and/or microbiology • General environmental labwork skills, or strong attention to detail and diligence / perfectionism • Experience or interest in DNA extraction, PCR, and/or genomic sequencing • Botany, horticulture or general plant care knowledge • Environmental field sampling techniques • Reliable transportation • Flexibility, and willingness to work both indoors and outdoors
Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Systems for Documenting Visitor Use Patterns and Baseline Ecological Conditions at Napatree Point Conservation Area
The Coastal Fellow will learn how to use a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) to collect detailed, low altitude aerial photographs of the Napatree Point Conservation Area. The fellow will learn how to process the collected images using photogrammetric software, and how to effectively leverage a Geographic Information System (GIS) to evaluate the utility of the imagery for assessing visitor impacts (e.g. boat counts, social trails, visitor density) and ecological conditions (e.g. vegetation and geological features). GIS experience preferred. Position involves both laboratory (~70%) and field work (~30%).
Inventory of amphibians and reptiles at Gateway National Recreation Area, New York and New Jersey One Coastal Fellow will assist with an inventory of amphibians and reptiles in a national park in New York and New Jersey. Work will include conducting call surveys for amphibians, identifying amphibian egg masses in wetlands, dipnetting wetlands for amphibian larvae, trapping wetlands for turtles and aquatic snakes, performing visual encounter surveys for reptiles and amphibians, and checking under plywood coverboards for reptiles. All animals captured will be measured, and turtle shells will be notched for unique identification. Species studied will include salamanders, frogs, lizards, snakes, and turtles that are expected to occur in the national park. Surveys will be conducted in permanent and temporary wetlands, lowland forests, grass fields and tidal marshes. Most of the work will be in the field (80%), but other tasks will include cleaning and maintenance of field equipment. Fellow will live in shared housing with other researchers in New York/New Jersey for the duration of the program. Camping may be required occasionally. The student selected for this project will: gain extensive field experience and confidence learning to identify, capture and handle amphibians and reptiles of eastern United States, and learn about study design and data collection. To be considered for this position you must be: • Flexible in your time schedule • Willing and not fearful of working at night in the forest (we will work in pairs) • Confident in the field • Physically fit • Able to lift at least 25 pounds • Capable of wading in wetlands and moving through dense forest brush • Safety-minded • Able to work in conditions with ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes • Aware of the risks of deer ticks and Lyme disease. The Coastal Fellow working on this project will be trained in safety procedures specific to this position and will be expected to adhere to them at all times. We are looking for an easygoing, friendly student who is excited about field research and interested in conservation.
Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program Coastal Fellow Opportunity with URI’s Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program The URI Home*A*Syst Program is an award winning voluntary residential pollution prevention program. We provide workshops, publications, and other educational resources and tools to communities and organizations to promote informed decision-making. We work in partnership with others to train residents to take actions to protect their health and the environment. This position is a great opportunity for undergraduates with a passion for public education and outreach and who want to gain experience and skills. The successful applicants will provide support for URI’s Water Quality Program, specifically helping with community outreach and education. During the summer, Fellows will attend 2 - 3 community and organizational events with informational materials on how residents can protect their private drinking water well.
Skills Gained: • Gain knowledge about Cooperative Extension and effective education and community outreach techniques. • Learn about: groundwater hydrology; water quality; protection methods; and, drinking water testing. Learn how to use educational tools to communicate important principles to the audience. • Learn and implement methods to measure the effectiveness of public education campaigns. • Improve public speaking skills, office and organizational skills. • Network with partnering agencies, including the RI Department of Health, and other community organizations. Primary Duties and Essential Job Functions: • Attend 2 – 3 community events each week (farmers’ markets, fairs, festivals) in targeted areas. Set up informational displays, hand out information, and educate the public on drinking water pollution prevention. • Assist with and attend community and professional private well protection training workshops. • Assist in delivering information and coordinating programs as they develop. Preferred Skills: • Reliable, able to work independently and productively • Excellent oral and written communication skills • Comfortable with public speaking and interacting with the public • Science background with the ability to learn handouts, materials and educational tools • Valid driver license and reliable vehicle for transportation to and from events
Plant Science & Entomology
Backyard Integrated Tick Management Study Effective tick control is an important public health measure for combating Lyme disease. Our ITM approach will integrate the application of well-timed sprays of tick-killing chemicals (to reduce host-seeking ticks) with installation of rodent-targeted bait boxes (to reduce the prevalence of ticks carrying Lyme-causing germs). This approach will be evaluated at properties in Lyme-endemic towns located in southern Rhode Island. This project aims to bridge the gap between tick control research and human behavior by 1) assessing the effectiveness of an integrated tick management (ITM) strategy applied to either individual or contiguous residential properties, and 2) identifying patterns of human activity within and outside of the peridomestic landscape that lead to encounters with infected ticks. Fellows will largely be responsible for assisting with tick surveillance in backyards (field) and interacting with participating homeowners (public outreach). Interns in this program should be interested in conducting intensive fieldwork in a small team, have a valid driver's license, be detail-focused, and be comfortable in casual--but professional--conversation with the public.
Native Bee Ecology We will conduct research to determine 1) the pollination efficiency of native bees pollinating highbush blueberry; 2) 2) if carpenter bees will accept manufactured wooden nests; 3) 3) the flight activity of native bees; 4) 4) bee captures in Japanese beetle traps; 5) 5) forage and nesting preferences of native bees; and 6) 6) insect control evaluations. Lots of field work. 35 hrs/week.
Measuring social and ecological change and interactions in home and community food gardens in Greater Providence, RI A wide range of actors increasingly promote urban agriculture as a solution to social and ecological problems, including food insecurity, blight, and biodiversity and habitat loss. Urban agriculture as intervention is supported by a growing body of research, but a lack of integrated social and ecological analysis and an emphasis on cross-sectional studies undermine the analytic power of that research. This project lays the groundwork for a largescale urban agriculture research program that addresses these weaknesses. Employing a social-ecological systems framework, the project will conduct semi-structured interviews with home and community gardeners in Greater Providence, RI, and collect baseline biophysical data from their gardens for plant diversity, bee and ground-dwelling arthropod diversity, soil quality, and pollination, stormwater infiltration, and biocontrol services. The Coastal and Environmental Fellow will be engaged in all aspects of the project, from participant recruitment to the collection of social and biophysical data to sample processing. The position will require field work and significant interaction with the public. Plant identification skills and/or fluency in Spanish are a plus.
Improving vegetable production practices There are two potential projects a Coastal Fellow could work on: One definite project is working on improved production practices of African vegetable crops which are being grown by immigrant producers in Providence and Pawtucket. We will grow 3 or 4 of these crop species at the URI Agronomy farm. Our goal is to increase productivity in small plot areas in order eventually transfer these practices to growers in the city. This is important because people are trying to supplement their incomes with sales of these vegetables in their communities but they have very limited land to grow on. A second project looks at the use of foliar nutrient sprays on field grown tomatoes, in conjunction with Rhode Island's largest tomato producer. The objective is to determine if these sprays of plant nutrients on tomato leaves actually provides economic benefit to growers. This is important because a number of growers use these sprays but really don't know if it increases their profit margins.
Detoxification vs. Sequestration: The Fate of Host Plant Defensive Metabolites in Hypena opulenta (Lepidoptera: Erebidae), A Biological Control Agent for Swallow-worts (Vincetoxicum spp.)
The URI biological control lab is awaiting a USDA permit to enable us to release a potential biocontrol agent, Hypena opulenta, a caterpillar that feeds on all species of invasive swallowwort plants (Vincetoxicum spp.). The coastal fellow for this project will assist with the rearing of Hypena opulenta, and the release and monitoring of this insect, if we receive the permit for release. The coastal fellow will also conduct their own laboratory experiment looking at the fate of host plant defensive metabolites in Hypena opulenta. This experiment will involve rearing Hypena larvae, dissecting larvae, and conducting chemical analyses of both insect and plant tissue using HPLC. Ideally the student conducting this project would have some laboratory experience, experience working with insects, and interest in learning instrumentation used in chemical analyses. This fellowship will primarily involve laboratory work but there will be a partial field component.
Evaluating Laser Scarecrows for Bird Control in Crops The CF will assist with a project to test the effectiveness of laser scarecrows for preventing bird damage in sweet corn. The principle data collection period is mid-July through midSeptember. The CF will sample corn fields at the URI Agronomy Farm and on farms throughout RI to monitor bird damage with and without laser scarecrow protection. The CF will also observe in fields to determine what bird species are present. This is a field project. I am seeking a CF with expertise in identifying common bird species. A valid driver's license is required. Demonstrated ability to work independently is strongly preferred. Students interested in full-time employment should have a willingness to do farm work, as they will serve on the Agronomy Farm crew when not sampling corn fields and observing birds.
Summer Cover Crops for RI Vegetables THis is a field project located at the Agronomy Farm. We are testing various cover crops species for use in improving soil health on vegetable farms. The CF will be responsible for collecting biomass data from trial plots. No specific skills are needed but the successful candidate must be responsible, reliable, organized, and able to work efficiently.