BURSTing Into Action

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From Flora to Fauna: A Cornucopia of Biology Research Projects

Over the summer, UMD Swenson College of Science and Engineering undergraduates participated in an immersive, 10-week program called BURST, Biological Undergraduate Research in Science and Technology. Below are the stories of three students who took part in BURST and conducted research in their field of study. For more information on their research, click the link embedded in each student's name. The program is supported by the UMD Biology Department as well as generous contributions from a number of donors.


Marshal Wedger conducts research on apple trees  
Marshal Wedger  

Those who can, look for answers to feed the world

Marshal Wedger called the BURST program, “The best experience I’ve had in college.” Dr. Edgar Turcotte, who is interested in crop domestication and genetics, chose to support UMD and Wedger’s work on genome sequencing apple varieties though BURST. The goal? To share UMD’s research with others to produce desirable new apple cultivars.




Jessica Le presents her research on plant taxonmy  
Jessica Le  

Those who can, search far and wide for knowledge

Sometimes a childhood activity turns into something more. Cellular and molecular biology major and BURST program participant Jessica Le conducted field research across the continent this last summer. Le collected and preserved plants from Canada, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, and Illinois as part of her project, “Acquisition of Botany Skills: Herbarium.” She was tasked with categorizing the family level taxonomy of her collection, and with her mentors narrowed that down to individual species. Throughout the 10-week project, she collected around 40 samples.




Max Helmberger in the field  
Max Helmberger  

Those who can, comb even the smallest spaces for big discoveries

Entomology student Max Helmberger conducted not one but two research projects over the summer, as both a BURST and UROP participant. "“It was an excellent experience, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to conduct research.” Helmberger's projects focused on insects and the way their survival is impacted by their environment, from arthropods in peat bogs to lacebugs in simulated drought conditions.





Written by Zach Lunderberg, October 2014.

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Cheryl Reitan, creitan@d.umn.edu

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