Undergraduate Research Opportunities

For summer undergraduate research opportunities for UK and non-UK students that are citizens or permanent US residents, please visit the REU site.  For undergraduate research opportunities for UK students during the academic year, contact the labs listed below:

Posted by Asst. Prof. Matt Gentry on 8 August 2012
Work in the Gentry lab is conducted on two major fronts that at first glance are unconnected: neurodegeneration and biofuels production. We discovered a class of enzymes that removes phosphate from sugars, called the glucan phosphatases. In mammals, the glucan phosphatase laforin removes phosphate from glycogen. In the absence of laforin activity, human glycogen becomes water-insoluble and starts to resemble plant starch. This "plant-like" material in humans drives the development of a fatal neurodegenerative disease called Lafora disease. In plants and micro-algae, the glucan phosphatases regulate energy metabolism by directing the degradation of starch, the plant energy molecule, and allowing us a pathway to manipulate this process. Thus, glucan phosphatases link neurodegeneration with biofuels research.




Posted by Prof. Doug Andres on 8 August 2012:
New neurons are continuously added to select areas of the human brain during adulthood (neurogenesis), in a process that is influenced by environmental, chemical, and genetic variables. We have discovered two novel signaling proteins that control this process and students will complete a variety of assays using transgenic mice to analyze neuronal growth to examine these regulatory pathways. Advances in understanding the regulation of neurogenesis have broad therapeutic potential for cognitive aging, and might lead to novel strategies to promote the replacement of damaged or lost neurons after injury or in patients with degenerative neurological diseases.





Posted by Assoc. Prof. Mike Mendenhall on 8 August 2012
I have an opportunity for a student interested technical illustration and electronic media to assist in the creation of an ibook text in Biochemistry. A strong interest in exploring how electronic media, including 3-dimensional graphics and interactive figures, can be used to deliver information content to college students is essential. Some knowledge of general biochemistry is helpful but not essential.






Posted by Prof. Skip Waechter on 7 August 2012:
The Gram+ bacterium, Micrococcus luteus produces a cell surface lipomannan consisting of a polymannose chain (48 sugar residues) attached to the cell membrane by a diacylglycerol anchor. Students would conduct a variety of biochemical assays to characterize genetic defects in a population of temperature-sensitive mutants unable to assemble the lipomannan. Complementation of the genetic defects with a micrococcal cDNA library will identify key genes encoding essential membrane proteins involved in the lipomannan assembly process.