SPUR 2022: FOREST RESILIENCE: EXPLORING FACTORS THAT IMPACT TREE PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSES TO DROUGHT

Mentor Name:
William Anderegg

Mentor Position:
Associate Professor

Department:
School of Biological Sciences

College:
Science

Email:
Anderegg@utah.edu


Project Description:

**This project is a part of the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR), which provides undergraduate students with an intensive 10-week research experience under the mentorship of a University of Utah faculty member. SPUR 2022 begins on May 25 and ends on August 4. If you are interested in this project, please review all program information on the SPUR site. If you wish to apply to this project, you must apply using the SPUR 2022 application.**

Climate change, especially in the western United States, is predicted to bring more frequent droughts and higher temperatures which threaten our ecologically and economically important forests. The future of western US forests in a rapidly changing climate hinges around how trees can survive climate stress, like drought. The lab studies the effects of climate change on forests, and our research specifically focuses on the physiological health of individual trees affected by drought and fire. Our goal is to determine how forests are responding to climate change, what areas/ species are most at risk, and how they may be able to recover. Our research will help illuminate when and where forests may be resilient or at risk as the climate continues to change, which matters enormously to society in terms of land management, carbon sequestration, ecosystem services like tourism, and our western landscapes.



Opportunity Type:

This is a paid research position


Student Role:

The student’s role in this study will be highly dynamic and time will be spent across a wide range of tasks. The student will get a variety of experiences in both the lab and in the field. We plan to take the student with us on field excursions to collect samples, conduct surveys, and establish field research plots in the Utah and Colorado areas. In the lab, the student will assist with multiple different physiological measurements that we use to understand tree health and function. These measurements tell us how much the plant is photosynthesizing, how drought-stressed the plant is, how much water the plant can transport, and how drought-adapted the plant is. We will also work with the student to help them design their own research project that can be carried out with the materials and time available, which they will present in the end-of-summer Summer Symposium.


Student Benefits:

Working with us in the Anderegg Lab will give the student the chance to gain research experience in a large, supportive lab group. The student will become familiar with common forest ecology and physiology methods and concepts, using state-of-the-art technology for certain methods. There will be a focus on effective science communication and experimental design. In addition to assisting with our current projects, students will design their own testable hypotheses, collect data, and communicate their results with others at bi-weekly lab meetings, the SPUR bi-weekly update meetings, presentation of research at the Summer Symposium, and publication through the Undergraduate Research Journal. By the end of the program, the student will have a better grasp on being an independent researcher and should feel more confident with communicating, critical thinking, and problem solving — all of which are important aspects for meeting the expectations of any future career.


Project Duration:

35-40 hours per week on research and program-related activities, begins May 25, 2022, and ends August 4, 2022


Minimum Requirements:

Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria: 1) be a matriculated, degree-seeking undergraduate student in the Fall 2022 semester (beginning or continuing college career in Fall 2022 and not graduating before December 2022; concurrent enrollment while in high school does not meet this eligibility requirement). Applicants do not need to be a University of Utah student. 2) eligible to work in the United States: If you are a University of Utah Dreamer (with or without DACA), you are eligible to participate. U Dreamers with DACA will be hired and paid through U payroll. U Dreamers without DACA who graduated from a Utah high school will be compensated via a different mechanism. If you are a Dreamer from a different institution: If you have DACA, you are eligible to participate and will be hired and paid though U payroll. If you do not have DACA, you are able to participate and gain research experience, but we do not currently have a mechanism that allows us to compensate you. For more information, please contact Megan Shannahan at megan.shannahan@utah.edu or 801-581-2478. If you are an international student or scholar, you must either a) be a degree-seeking undergraduate student at the University of Utah, OR b) possess documentation that establishes your eligibility to work in the United States (if you hold US citizenship, it is likely you have these documents). 3) able to commit to approximately 35-40 hours per week of employment at the University of Utah for the entire duration of the program (May 25-August 4, 2022). 4) at least 18 years old by May 23, 2022 (required if you wish to use on-campus housing; preferred if you will not be using on-campus housing).