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Disease Dynamics in Natural and Agricultural Systems REU

The Borer-Seabloom lab at the University of Minnesota is seeking one student for a National Science Foundation Research Experience (NSF) for Undergraduates (REU) position studying plant pathogens this summer. Agro-ecosystems are a striking example of highly manipulated environments that differ from natural systems by several features, including low species diversity, high genetic uniformity, high plant density and elevated host nutrition. While each of these modifications have been shown to have important effects on disease emergence and evolution, the potential interactive effects of these environmental parameters on disease dynamics, including prevalence and transmission, are less well understood. This research project will focus on disentangling the relative effects of host diversity, density, and nutrition supply on within-host viral accumulation and among-host transmission of two plant viruses.
The undergraduate researcher will complete this project in a laboratory setting using our model pathogen system, barley and cereal yellow dwarf viruses (B/CYDVs). B/CYDVs are known to infect at least 150 grass species, and are found in both crops and wild plants around the world. The student will be expected to become familiar with relevant literature and participate in the empirical work, data analysis, writing, and presentation of this work. 
This position is for ten weeks with flexible start and end dates within the range of late May to late August 2014. The student will receive a stipend of $5000, and is responsible for reporting the stipend as taxable income. The student must arrange his/her own housing. 
In order to apply for this position please submit a cover letter describing your motivation for pursuing this position and applicable experience, which can include, but is not limited to research experience, courses, and science writing. In addition, please include a resume and the contact information for three references. NSF REU students must be currently enrolled in a degree program leading to a baccalaureate degree (earliest eligible graduate date is Fall 2014). In addition, NSF REU students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applications should be sent to Amy Kendig at by Friday, April 25, 2014.