Thursday, December 30, 2010

It all starts/ends here

Posting the same thing twice is a repeat. Posting it three times is a tradition.

At various points this quarter we'll be talking about the origin of life, the early history of the earth and the importance of asteroid impacts.

For everyone who has ever wondered what it would be like when a 500km diameter asteroid crashes into the earth. If you go to YouTube to watch it you can click a little link to watch it in high def. (highly recommended). You might also want to wait until you can crank up the speakers. The perfect soundtrack to the end of the world. Or the beginning...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Evolutionary Ecology Internship Opportunities in the Mazer Lab

The Mazer lab tests predictions and develops hypotheses concerning the process and outcome of evolution by natural selection in wild plant species. In our current work, we’re examining the causes and consequences of the evolution of plant mating behaviors (yes, plants behave!). The "mating system" of wild plant and animal populations refers to the ways in which sperm and egg unite within and between individuals. In plants, outcrossing occurs when pollen is transferred (often by insects or by wind) from one plant's flowers to another's. In contrast, self-fertilization (selfing) is an extreme form of inbreeding that occurs when a single plant pollinates itself; the united egg and sperm originate from the same individual! Just as in humans and other animals, inbreeding in plants can have harmful effects on their offspring. Nevertheless, the evolution of selfing (from outcrossing ancestors) is quite common in plants. Indeed fully 20-25% of living plant species regularly engage in selfing. Detecting the “costs” and “benefits” of self-fertilization — especially in a stressful and changing climate, where pollinators may become a highly limiting resource — and predict the ecological conditions under which selfing evolves are the central goals of our research.

We would like to recruit undergraduates into the Mazer lab to help with a supervised research project on mating system evolution in several species of the California native wildflower, Clarkia. Undergraduate researchers will work with Professor Mazer, graduate students, postdocs, other undergraduates in the lab to learn a variety of lab, greenhouse, and computing techniques that we’ve developed to study:
1) The physiological performance of selfers vs. outcrossers under stressful conditions
2) Genetically based associations between mating system, physiology, and fitness
3) The ways in which natural selection operates under field conditions

Time Commitment: 8-10 hours per week, including a weekly meeting. Students who work for at least two full quarters will be eligible for paid positions in future quarters (pending available funding).
Current Lab Members:
• Dr. Susan Mazer, Principal Investigator (
• Dr. Leah Dudley, Post-doc (
• Alisa Hove: PhD Student (
• Brian Haggerty: PhD Student (
Please contact Leah Dudley ( if you are interested in joining our research group. Also describe why you are interested in this project and what preparation you’ve had that might help you to be an excellent co-worker (Examples: course work in ecology or evolution, organizational skills, statistical experience, data entry, lab work, chemistry, camping, wilderness experience, or field work). We will meet
Tuesday, January 4, 2010, the first week of the new quarter in LSB 4301 2-3pm to introduce ourselves and chat about schedules and possible projects. However, please contact me beforehand if you are interested in the lab and especially if you cannot make it to this meeting time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Learn about Sanford-Burnham's Core facilities: THURSDAY, Dec 2, 3:30-4:30pm, Rathmann Auditorium (ie 1001LSB)

This week's MCDB seminar is a departure from our normal form and represents a unique opportunity to learn more about the Core facilities and research resources of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.  The purpose is to provide faculty, staff, and students with information on what these facilities are and how they can access them in supporting research projects here at UCSB.  The speaker is Dr. Craig Hauser, the VP for Scientific Resources at SBMRI.  

Dr. Hauser is of the UC system, having done his undergraduate studies at UC Davis, Ph.D. at UC Irvine, and postdoctoral studies at UC Berkeley.  He was then recruited to the Sanford-Burnham faculty in La Jolla in 1989.   His research has centered on the interplay between the regulation of gene expression and oncogenic transformation, focusing on the Ets family of transcription factors.  In 2005, he became an adjunct faculty member and assumed a full-time administrative position, currently serving as Vice President for Scientific Resources.   His responsibilities include overseeing the operations of the Institute’s Shared Resources (cores), scientific equipment, and scientific regulatory compliance.

Dr. Hauser will present some background on the other two Sanford-Burnham sites (La Jolla, California and Orlando, Florida) and describe the somewhat unique philosophy and operations of the Institute’s many core facilities at these sites.   In addition to presenting the capabilities of these cores, he will describe how Sanford-Burnham’s partners, such as UCSB, can access the core services.