Research student in the lab preparing a pipetteStudent Researcher in lab looking through dissecting microscopeStudent in research lab performing extraction from leavesResearch students in the river collecting aquatic organisms

As professors, we are interested in facilitating learning experiences not only in the classroom and teaching lab, but also through research opportunities. Working on research with a faculty member allows students to gain real life experience in experimental design, data collection, specimen identification, specimen curation, and data analysis. These experiences allow our students to be very competitive for entrance to post-undergraduate degree programs, whether they are in ecology, genetics, biochemistry, or in medicine and human health.

Students who are interested in doing research may contact one or more of the faculty mentors listed below.

Research Opportunities in the Department

St. Mary's Saccomanno Research Institute/Colorado Mesa University Internship Program in Biological Research

This internship program provides an opportunity for highly motivated undergraduates and recent graduates to perform hands-on biological research in the summer or during the academic year. Interns work under the guidance of an experienced scientist on real research projects, allowing participants to experience the excitement, challenges and creativity of research. The Program compensates each summer intern with $5,200.00 so that they can work full-time during the summer on a project with a faculty mentor.  Academic Year interns will receive $3,510. At the end of the experience, interns present their research to the public. The 2023 SIPBR Application will be available soon!  Applications are due in March of each year.

 

Receiving College Credit for Research

Under the supervision of a professor, the student can participate in the research while simultaneously earning college credit by taking one of the following courses:

BIOL 387--Structured Research

Under the supervision of a faculty mentor, students learn the techniques associated with the mentor's field of research and collaborate with the professor to collect and analyze data. Students must have the permission of the supervising mentor to enroll in the class, which can be taken for a variable number of credits.

BIOL 487--Advanced Research

After taking BIOL 387, students may continue to refine their skills in research by taking this course. Students continue to delve deeper into the research conducted by the faculty mentor and contribute to the research being conducted by the professor. Students must have the permission of the supervising mentor to enroll in the class, which can be taken for a variable number of credits.

Research Facilities for Cell and Molecular Biology

The Molecular Genetics Research Laboratory at Colorado Mesa University provides the space and equipment for research conducted with undergraduates and for class projects. The research conducted here include projects on the molecular basis for cell motility, the population genetics of polychaetous worms, the molecular phylogenetics of solanaceous plants, and the molecular characterization of biocontrol species. Classes that benefit from the lab include Genetics, Molecular Genetics, Laboratory Investigations in Cellular and Molecular Biology, Evolution, and Forensic Molecular Biology.

Opportunities for Research in Organismal Biology

Students interested in research in the area of organismal biology have the opportunity to conduct research in the field. For example, students have conducted field research on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and plants in places that include Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Ecuador, and Iceland. In addition to field-based research, students undertaking projects that require more controlled environments have access to the CMU Animal Room, the CMU Greenhouse Facility, and the Walter Almond Kelley Herbarium. These spaces are also utilized by a number of classes including Fish Biology, Mammalogy, Herpetology, Principles of Plant Biology, Plant Anatomy, Plant Physiology, Plant ID, Plant Systematics, and Taxonomy of Grasses.   

Student Successes

Chandler Baldwin: Chandler is a middle school Science teacher at American Academy - Motsenbocker campus in Parker, Colorado.  Chandler conducted undergraduate research with Dr. Margot Becktell and presented his work at the CMU Student Showcase.

Rachel Baldwin: Rachel is earning her D.O. from Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine.  Rachel was an undergraduate student and a participant in the Saccomano Internship Program in Biological Research under the supervision of Dr. Zeynep Ozsoy

Marissa Bickel: Marissa is seeking her MS Degree at the University of Northern Colorado.  Marissa was an undergraduate research student with Dr. Kyle McQuade during her time at CMU.

Justin Blaskowski: Dr. Blaskowski earned his D.O. from the School of Western University of Health Sciences COMP-Northwest in Lebanon, Oregon.  Justin worked with Dr. Margot Becktell as an undergraduate research student and presented his research at the CMU Student Showcase.

Robin Bonner: Robbin is a Fish Culturist with New Mexico Game and Fish.  Robin conducted undergraduate research with Dr. Johanna Varner.

Christian Cherry: Christian is a DVM, Ph.D. student studying immunology at Colorado State University.  Christian was an undergraduate research student with Dr. Denita Weeks.  To read more about Christian's post-undergraduate experiences and his current graduate work, click on this link https://vetmedbiosci.colostate.edu/mip/directory/member/?id=41667

Kristine Crippen: Kristine worked with Dr. Eriek Hansen as an undergraduate research student and presented her work at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Reno, Nevada.

Jacob Eggers: Jacob is a Fisheries Technician for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  Jacob conducted research with Dr. Eriek Hansen

Amber Gillard: Amber is in the Physician Assistant Program at CMU.  Amber conducted research under the supervision of Dr. Kyle McQuade.

Austin Hadley: Austin is a middle school Science and Social Studies teacher at Orchard Mesa Middle School.  Austin conducted research with Dr. Zeynep Ozsoy and won first place for his track at the CMU Student Showcase.

Heidi Kloser: Heidi spent some time as a research technician at Steadman Philippon Research Institute before starting her Ph.D. program at Colorado State University in Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology. Heidi conducted research with Dr. Denita Weeks.  Click on this link   https://vetmedbiosci.colostate.edu/mip/directory/member/?id=41710 to learn more about Heidi and her graduate work.

Molly Kubesh: Molly is earning her M.D./Ph.D. at Creighton University.  Molly worked with Dr. Kyle McQuade as an undergraduate research student while at CMU.

Meg Margeson: Meg earned her Physician Assistant degree from Pacific University.  Meg worked with Dr. Kyle McQuade as an undergraduate research student at CMU. 

Tabitha McFarland: Tabitha worked with Dr. Johanna Varner and presented her work at the meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists held in Washington, DC in 2019. Tabitha McFarland is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico where she’s studying the evolution of lagomorphs and small mammals in South America.

Kristina Morben: Kristina works at the Idaho Fish and Game Clearwater Region in Idaho.  Kristina worked as an undergraduate research student under the supervision of Dr. Eriek Hansen and presented her work at the Joint Meeting of Utah and Colorado/Wyoming Chapters of the American Fisheries Society held in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Krystie Murphy: Dr. Murphy earned her D.O. at Liberty University of Osteopathic Medicine.  Krystie conducted research with Dr. Zeynep Ozsoy.

Ashley Pennington: Ashley is an Allergy and Immunology Specialist at United Allergy Services.  Ashley was an undergraduate student under the supervision of Dr. Zeynep Ozsoy.

Sophia Reck: Sophia, now an MA student in Anthropology at Louisiana State University, worked with Dr. Eriek Hansen as an undergraduate at CMU.  Sophia is also a co-author on a paper published on the work she did as an undergraduate. Hansen, E. S., C. Baigent, S. I. Reck, and M. Connor. 2018. Bioelectrical impedance as a technique for estimating postmortem interval. Journal of Forensic Sciences 62(4): 1186-1190. click here to access the paper

Taylor Richardson: Taylor is seeking her graduate degree at Miami University.  Taylor worked with Dr. Johanna Varner as an undergraduate student at CMU.

Olivia Sayer: Olivia is pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Olivia was an undergraduate research student under the supervision of Dr. Kyle McQuade.

Amanda Stahlke: Dr. Stahlke completed her Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Idaho.  Amanda worked as an undergraduate student for Dr. Zeynep Ozsoy.  Amanda presented her work at the Riparian Restoration in the Western U.S. Tamarisk Coalition's Research Management Conference held in Grand Junction, Colorado as well as the CMU Student Showcase and the Tri-Beta Honor Society meeting, where she won awards at the regional and national levels.

Selina Tucker: Selina is pursuing her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the University of North Texas. Selina worked with Dr. Margot Becktell and Dr. Zeynep Ozsoy and presented her work at the CMU Student Showcase.  

Tyler Walton: Tyler is a Fisheries Technician with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  Mr. Walton conducted research under the supervision of Dr. Eriek Hansen.

Brooklyn Waterhouse:  Brooklyn worked with Dr. Johanna Varner as an undergraduate student.  Brooklyn presented her work at the American Society of Mammologists meeting held in Moscow Idaho in 2017 and again at the meeting held in Washington D.C. in 2019.  Ms. Waterhouse is also a co-author on a paper based on the work she did on American pikas, Camp, Meghan J.; Shipley, Lisa A.; Varner, Johanna; and Waterhouse, Brooklyn D. (2020) "Activity patterns and foraging behavior of American pikas (Ochotona princeps) differ between Craters of the Moon and alpine talus in Idaho," Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 80 : No. 1 , Article 6. Access the publication here. 

Shay West: Dr. West received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado and is now an instructor at Colorado Mesa University. As an undergraduate, she worked with Dr. Steve Werman.

Katharyn Woodard: Katharyn earned her PA degree from the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.  Katharyn worked with Dr. Zeynep Ozsoy.  During her time as an undergraduate, Katharyn presented her research at a Tri-Beta Honor Society Meeting and for the CMU Student Showcase.

Brandy Worth: Brandy is an Evidence Technician with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.  Brandy conducted research with Dr. Eriek Hansen.