Students will be working in the lab of Professor Dirk Inzé, director of the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB), associated with Ghent University, in the historic city of Ghent. The Inzé lab is world renowned for their work uncovering basic cellular and genetic mechanisms that regulate leaf growth. During this internship, students will work under the supervision of Dr. Hilde Nelissen to analyze maize (corn) mutants defective in leaf growth. Students will learn how to perform a “kinematic analysis”, a standard assay to understand the contributions of both cell division and expansion to leaf growth. In addition, students will initiate a molecular analysis of their maize leaf growth mutants including mapping using high throughput sequence data. Field work will include a large-scale genetic screen for novel maize leaf growth mutants. Centrally located in Belgium and Europe, Ghent is an ideal location to experience both world-class plant biology research, as well as cultural treasures of art and architecture.
Students will research at the largest center for the study of Ecology and Evolutionary ecology in France: Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive. The institute is found in Montpellier and associated with the University of Montpellier. There are three potential projects, that all deal with pattern and/or color evolution of animals: 1) Students will study with Dr. Julien Renoult to explore test hypotheses regarding the role of color in the evolution and diversification of dragonflies. Students will use images and reflectance spectra to address key questions in dragonfly evolution: Is color a driver of species diversity? What are the rates of color accumulation in independent lineages? What was the ancestral color pattern of dragonflies? This project is the linch-pin for a large and extensive publication. Successful students will be invited to participate in writing a manuscript for publication. 2) Students will study the role of head pattern in the social weaver (Philetairus socius), a South African bird, with Dr. Claire Doutrelant. Using standardized images and individual information (relatedness, reproduction, social rank, etc.) student will examine the variation between individuals to test if the black mask is a signal of quality or relatedness, or is used for individual recognition. If time allows the student would also be able ask and answer additional biological questions. 3) The student would study with Dr. Pierre-André Crochet to test questions regarding the role of color polymorphism in speciation in the wall lizard species complex (Podarcis spp.). The student would build a database of pictures (e.g., by browsing citizen science databases, emailing our European colleagues herpetologists and taking additional pictures), to score the intra-pop polymorphism, and to perform some phylogenetic comparative analyses. Students with computer skills are encouraged to apply but are not necessary for a successful research experience.