Rooney Lab seeking Undergrad Hns. Students for BIOL 499 projects

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Rooney Lab is seeking motivated Biology students seeking BIOL499 Senior Honour’s project opportunities.  

Terms: Spring and Fall 2020 (May-December 2020)

Supervisor: Dr. Rebecca Rooney

There are a variety of opportunities to get your feet wet in wetland ecology with the Rooney Lab if you're seeking a Hns. thesis project in the U Waterloo Biology Department.  Undergraduate Hns. students in the Rooney lab work closely with graduate student mentors under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Rooney to develop and implement a research project. In particular, we have an opportunity to test the effects of the herbicide imazapyr on wetland periphyton (i.e., biofilm) communities.

Description: A variety of herbicides are used in agriculture, silviculture, commercial and industrial weed control, and for the control of invasive and nuisance aquatic plants. Wetlands and shallow water environments are often the first point of contact in aquatic systems for herbicides entering from run-off or direct overspray. Periphyton are photosynthetic biofilm communities ubiquitous on submerged surfaces in shallow water systems. Assessing the response of periphyton communities to herbicide exposure is important to understanding the effects of these contaminants on our freshwater systems.

Schematic indicating how periphyton can bioconcentrate herbicides

This project will involve the installation of periphyton sampling equipment in a wetland system, where it will incubate for at least 4 weeks to allow periphyton colonization. These natural communities will be transported back to the laboratory where we will conduct controlled exposure experiments in microcosms. We will collect water and periphyton samples for subsequent analysis to assess how the periphyton responses to herbicide exposure.

This project offers an opportunity to:

  • Experience wetland field work as part of a field work team
  • Conduct laboratory experiments to examine metabolic responses under controlled conditions
  • Gain a better understanding of the research process, the fun and challenges involved, and to be involved in all steps of the process
  • Benefit from the learning opportunities available as part of a dynamic lab group
  • Contribute to the development of a research publication

Review departmental information and requirements for BIOL 499 here.

Project-specific requirements: Interest and availability for field work in freshwater aquatic and wetland environments. This may involve working in field gear (e.g. hip waders), carrying heavy equipment, and working outside under a range of weather conditions.

If you have interest or questions about this project please contact:

Dr. Laura Beecraft,; Subject line: BIOL 499 Spring 2020

Please include a few sentences about your interest in this project and your relevant experience.

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