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Research Opportunity: Parasitoid Wasps

Whether you are fascinated or disgusted by them, parasites dominate the globe. What determines the variety of hosts that a parasite can attack? In order to answer this question, I study parasitoid wasps, which are insects that lay their eggs in other insects. Those wasp offspring develop and consume their host from the inside, eventually killing it. These parasitoids then emerge, mate, and fly off to seek hosts of their own. I study a few species of tiny parasitoid wasps that attack multiple species of butterfly pupae (the chysalis stage). 

Students who join me for a semester will study the behavior and evolution of these wasps, focusing on parasitoids’ ability to attack a variety of hosts. Do these parasites prefer certain host species over others? Why or why not? Some variables that can be manipulated in our experiments include the host species, hosts’ chemical defenses, wasps’ previous experiences, and levels of competition for resources. Potential projects abound, and I am happy to talk with students about developing their own question and hypotheses. 

Students who work with me will develop skills in reading scientific literature, experimental design, plant and insect care, collection of behavioral data, statistical analyses, and scientific presentation and communication.

Requirements: 
Students will spend 4-12+ hours per week working with a graduate student mentor and independently in lab, greenhouse, and field settings. 
This position will last throughout the spring semester, and hours are flexible depending upon your goals and availability. 
This is a volunteer position, and course credit opportunities are available (up to 3 credits, writing intensive or non-writing intensive).
Typical characteristics of successful students in are motivated, independent, creative, curious, and conscientious.
Excellence demonstrated during the spring semester may lead to a paid summer position.

Contact Information:
Carl Stenoien, graduate student, sten0364@umn.edu