Evolution Up Close and Personal

Evolution Up Close and Personal

Research program in ecological genomics offers students chance to see how plants evolve in response to environment.

Ecological genomics may sound like a pretty esoteric program. But the undergrads who apply for a new research program at Kansas State University could discover not only a $15,000 stipend and research experience for one year but a whole new world of scientific exploration.

Samantha Wisely and Ari Jumpponen, both K-State associate professors of biology, have been awarded nearly $750,000 for the next five years from the National Science Foundation to administer the undergraduate research and mentoring in the ecological genomics program.

Wisely said the program will help not only students but the research program but providing more manpower for research.

Each scholar participating in the program will be paired with a faculty member from the K-State Ecological Genomics Institute, an interdisciplinary research group that seeks to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying the short- and long-term responses of organisms to the natural environment.

"There seems to be a misconception that if you are really smart, you have to become a medical doctor," Wisely said. "However, ecological genomics uses the latest biomedical techniques to explore ecology and evolution, creating a great way to sell evolutionary biology to very talented students who otherwise may not think about a career in ecological or evolutionary research."

The program includes a summer field course, research mentored directly by faculty members, attendance at professional meetings, and various enhancement activities that foster and build skills needed for networking, communication, ethics and career development.

More information about the undergraduate research and mentoring in ecological genomics program is available by contacting Wisely at 785-532-0978 or [email protected]; or Jumpponen at 785-532-6751 or [email protected].

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