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Research opportunities

Mentored research and creative projects

Research@Honors encourages our undergraduate Honors students to engage in mentored research and creative projects. In pursuit of this mission, we are currently working with Wayne State faculty to identify existing or upcoming opportunities for our students to engage in quality research projects. Browse the projects listed below to see if a faculty member's project fits your interests, and continue to check this page for updates. Please only contact faculty members about the listed projects if you meet the required qualifications they have described.

If you are a faculty member at Wayne State and are planning or currently working on a research or creative project, please let us know how our students might get involved by completing this form: Faculty form

Research Opportunities

Fungal Communication via Extracellular RNA

Faculty Member: Dr. Robert Akins

Email: rakins@med.wayne.edu
Department: BMB

Project Description: Project testing the hypothesis that Candida and other fungi send exRNA signals to other populations to prepare them for pending stress.

Project Duration: 12/19/16 - 1/1/18

Desired number of student researchers: 2-3

Expected duration of student commitment: Two semesters and more

Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 5 and 10 hours per week

Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: Culturing yeasts under stress conditions, isolating RNA from cultures and supernatants, purifying vesicular fractions, fluorometric assays, scanning EM, practice analysis, performing RT-qPCR, data analysis.

Required skills, coursework, or experience: General lab skills, pipetting, microscope use, etc., is helpful. Will train eager newcomers. Self-motivated, meticulous, desire to discover.

To be considered: Email rakins@med.wayne.edu with GPA, Average hours available per week, and courses taken to date in BIO or CHEM.

 

Potential triggers of HPV infection or progression to cervical cancer

Faculty Member: Dr. Robert Akins

Email: rakins@med.wayne.edu
Department: BMB

Project Description: Project tests the hypothesis that vaginal microbial species or groups foster infection by HPV or the progression from infection to cervical cancer.

Project Duration: 12/9/16 - 1/1/18

Desired number of student researchers: 2-3

Expected duration of student commitment: Two semesters and more

Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 5 and 10 hours per week

Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: Testing samples by qPCR, data analysis.

Required skills, coursework, or experience: Will train, but general lab skills and desire to discover, self-motivated, meticulous.

To be considered: Email rakins@med.wayne.edu with GPA, Average hours available per week, and courses taken to date in BIO or CHEM.

 

Nanomedicines for Cancer

Faculty Member: Joshua Reineke
Email: reineke@wayne.edu
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences

 

Project Description: There are a few active projects in my lab in the area of nanomedicines for cancer: 1) lymph-targeted pulmonary delivery systems for the prevention and treatment of metastasis, 2) novel micelle formulations for pancreatic cancer, and 3) mathematical modeling and pharmacokinetic analysis of nanoparticles for targeted delivery. 

Project Duration: ongoing starting ASAP

 

Desired number of student researchers: max of 2

Expected duration of student commitment: Between one semester and one academic year

Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 10 and 15 hours per week

Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: First week or two will consist of shadowing and orientation to the lab. From there students will be paired with a graduate student or postdoc to assist in nanoparticle fabrication, characterization, cell culture studies, etc.

Required skills, coursework, or experience: Friendly personality, detail oriented and proactive

Preferred skills, coursework, or experience: Basic chemistry (organic and inorganic), programming experience, cell culture understanding, immunology, and cancer biology. However, applicants without this experience, but with an interest in some of these areas are encouraged.

Other important information: Located in the Pharmacy building. Students must be willing to come to the medical campus for all lab work.

 

Formative student experience in a lecture format class

Faculty Member: Joshua Reineke
Email: reineke@wayne.edu
Department: Education

 

Project Description: Novel teaching techniques and assessments will be evaluated for application in large lecture format classroom environment.

Project Duration: ongoing starting 08/26/13

 

Desired number of student researchers: 1-3

Expected duration of student commitment: One semester

Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 2 and 5 hours per week

Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: Assisting in the preparation of lecture materials, collecting of surveys, assessment of survey data.

Required skills, coursework, or experience: High ethical standards, interest in education, detail oriented, courteous and patient personality.

Preferred skills, coursework, or experience: Interest in life sciences and physical sciences, good writing skills

Other important information: Project is located in the Pharmacy building. Students must be willing to travel to medical campus to work on the project. Students will need to commit to some specific dates/times due to the nature of the project.

 

Baby on Board! WSU Early Parenting Study

Faculty Member: Dr. Carolyn Dayton
Email: cu4385@wayne.edu
Department: Social Work & Merrill Palmer

 

Project Description: This study will investigate the ways in which mothers and fathers in high risk contexts are psychologically approaching their preparation for parenting a new baby and the ways in which their biology and physiology influence their early parenting behaviors (pregnancy and early infancy). Data collection will include parental measures of physiological functioning (salivary cortisol, respiratory sinus arrhythmia), psychological (psychopathology, resilience) and contextual factors (violence and trauma exposure). Parental data will be collected in a developmental laboratory at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute when mothers are pregnant. Parent and infant data will subsequently be collected at the same lab when infants are 4 months of age.

Project Duration: ongoing

 

Desired number of student researchers: 20

Expected duration of student commitment: Two semesters

Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 5 and 10 hours per week

Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: Assist in recruitment activities at Detroit OB clinics. Assist with the running of family laboratory sessions.

Required skills, coursework, or experience: Eligible undergraduate students must have an interest in this area of research and demonstrate the ability to conduct oneself in a respectful and professional manner with vulnerable families. The ability to work independently and as a member of the larger research team is critical. GPA of 3.5 or above is preferred as is prior experience working with vulnerable children or families. Students must commit to working a minimum of 6 hours per week for two terms.

Preferred skills, coursework, or experience: Interest and/or experience in the area of Developmental Psychology, Clinical Psychology and/or Family Social Work.

Other important information: Options for qualified students are available to conduct a supervised directed study (for a grade) and to work with Dr. Dayton on an honor's thesis.

 

Chromatin Structure and Gene Regulation

Faculty Member: Dr. Lori Pile
Email: loripile@wayne.edu
Department: Biological Studies

 

Project Description: Our laboratory uses the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to study the role of chromatin in the regulation of gene expression. Students generally work in the area of genetics or molecular biology to address fundamental questions regarding gene regulation, cell proliferation and development. 

Project Duration: ongoing

 

Desired number of student researchers: 1-2 per semester

Expected duration of student commitment: Between one semester and one academic year

Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 15 and 20 hours per week

Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: Undergraduate researchers generally conduct experiments under the direction of a research technician or graduate students. Specific experiments will be designed for each inpidual. Experiments include set up and analysis of fly genetic cross as well as carrying out molecular and cell biological studies. Students are expected to keep clear, up to date scientific notebooks and may be asked to present their research at lab meeting upon completion of the project.

Required skills, coursework, or experience: Honors genetics is preferred but not necessary.

 

Respiratory Plasticity in spinal cord injured mice

Faculty Member: Dr. Jason Mateika
Email: jmateika@med.wayne.edu

Phone: 313 576-4481
Department: Physiology

 

Project Description: We are exploring whether exposure to intermittent periods of hypoxia induces respiratory plasticity via release of the neuromodulator serotonin.  We are also exploring if respiratory plasticity promotes recovery of respiratory muscle function in spinal cord injured animals.

Project Duration: ongoing

 

Desired number of student researchers: 1

Expected duration of student commitment: One academic year

Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Greater than 20 hours per week

Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: 1) monitor and care for mice, 2) complete surgical procedures on mice, 3) data collection, 4) data analysis, 5) poster preparation

Required skills, coursework, or experience: 1) An undergraduate biology major, 2) Interested in graduate work or medical school, 3) Sophomore or junior with a 3.7 or greater GPA, 4) Interested in pursuing the project for an extended period of time (i.e. 1 year or longer)

 

Evolutionary and conservation genetics of freshwater fishes

Faculty Member: Thomas Dowling
Email: cx9077@wayne.edu
Department: Biological sciences

 

Project Description: We utilize a variety of molecular methods (DNA sequencing, single nucleotide polymorphisms, microsatellites) to understand how biopersity is generated and maintained. Fishes are used as a model system because of a variety of characteristics.

Project Duration: 02/01/2014 - 12/31/2018

 

Desired number of student researchers: 1

Expected duration of student commitment: Longer than two semesters

Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 10 and 15 hours per week

Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: General lab tasks, DNA extraction, amplification, sequencing, genetic characterization

Required skills, coursework, or experience: Basic experience in biology laboratory