St. Mary’s scenic waterfront campus gives biology majors a variety of opportunities to explore nature. The Chesapeake Bay, fresh water ponds, wooded areas, and an assortment of wildlife including classrooms, labs, and high-tech equipment are available for your research projects. You will work closely with faculty on various research projects both on and off of campus many of which lead to publications or conference presentations.
St. Mary’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)
SURF is an eight-week annual summer program at St. Mary’s, where students from a variety of disciplines delve into research topics of their own aspirations with guidance from faculty mentors and a stipend.
Learn more about Research Opportunities
Faculty Research Summaries
Our faculty are practicing scholars and maintain active research laboratories. If you are interested in a particular faculty member’s research you should discuss possible opportunities with them directly.
2019-2020 Academic Year
Jeffrey Byrd firstname.lastname@example.org SH 216, ext. 2973
My research interests: microbial ecology, survival of bacteria in the environment, and novel antimicrobial agents. My two ongoing study areas: 1) the predatory interactions of non-obligate predatory soil bacteria and 2) the survival of bacteria in the estuarine environment Bacterial genera commonly studied in my laboratory are Escherichia, Vibrio, Aristabacter, Cupriavidus, Ensifer, and Agromyces
Karen Crawford email@example.com SH 262, ext. 4598
My research interests involve questions concerning how normal pattern is created in regenerating and developing systems. Projects in my research lab include studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that function during amphibian limb regeneration and metamorphosis, squid embryogenesis, and regeneration in a fresh water oligochaete worm.
Kevin Emerson firstname.lastname@example.org SH231, ext. 2123
My research primarily focuses on understanding evolutionary processes in natural systems. In particular I have research efforts in understanding how organisms survive in seasonal environments, how evolutionary processes have and will affect malaria transmission dynamics, and how organisms interact with intracellular symbionts. Molecular, Evolutionary, and ecological contexts drive my research. Research opportunities in my lab range from the field (collection, identification, monitoring) to the lab (molecular genetics) to the computer (computational biology including the analysis of large sequence datasets).
Jessica Malisch email@example.com SH258, ext.
Research in my lab focuses on the vertebrate stress response and the effects of stress on physiology and behavior. I collect physiological and behavioral data from a population of white-crowned sparrows each May and June in the eastern Sierra Mountains just outside Yosemite National Park in California. I also plan to conduct similar studies of white-crowned sparrows and dark-eyed juncos around campus in the fall (pending acquisition of all permits). Students in my lab may join me in the eastern Sierras to collect data, may help collect data from bird populations around campus, and/or analyze previously collected plasma samples, field videos, and field activity data. Conducting research in the Sierras (although amazing!) is not required to work in my lab. My project for this summer will examine decision making during inclement weather. Global climate change has led to an increase in severity and inconsistency of typical weather patterns subjecting free-living organisms to more stressful events in an increasingly stochastic environment. Organism’s responses to storms may affect reproductive success and thus fitness. For example, fleeing a storm may increase life-time survival but may also result in the loss of territory or nest abandonment. How organisms make these types of decisions is not well understood, but hormonal influences on behavior make endocrine secretions prime candidates. Despite an abundance of studies, consistent support for the glucocortiod-fitness relationship has remained elusive. Glucocortiocoid hormones, are hydrophobic and as such are mostly transported on carrier proteins in the blood. These carrier proteins likely limit binding to receptors and thus influence the effect of hormones on organism behavior and physiology. In fact, evidence supports the role of unbound hormone as the biologically active fraction and bound hormone as a biologically relevant reservoir of metabolic hormone. The goal of this project is to use previously collected data of stress hormone and stress hormone binding globulin level following one acute stressor in white-crowned sparrows to generate a predictive model of stress hormone levels, stress hormone binding globulin level, receptor occupancy and behavior responses following multiple stressors. We will test our model in the field using a combination of researcher-induced stress and inclement weather and monitoring reproductive success of sparrows.
Rachel Myerowitz firstname.lastname@example.org SH260, ext. 4373
In general, I study human inherited disorders which result from a defective lysosomal enzyme and therefore affect lysosomal function. The focus of my research includes the molecular genetics, molecular pathological mechanisms, gene expression profiles and treatment development for Tay-Sachs, Gaucher and Pompe Diseases, three inherited lysosomal disorders. In addition, I am interested in bioethical questions mainly concerned with ethical dilemmas raised by the new biotechnology and I have mentored many SMPs focused on such questions. I am also interested in utilizing plants as my experimental system for asking genetic questions. I am currently mentoring an SMP which asks the question of whether or not a nursery ground for an extinct shark, C. megalodon, existed in the Chesapeake area 15 million years ago-take home message- come speak with me about any interesting question you would like to explore!
Jordan Price email@example.com SH 212, ext. 2216
My research blends two disparate fields of biology, animal behavior and molecular evolution, to investigate the evolutionary histories of animal traits, especially the songs and color patterns of birds. But I am broadly interested in topics spanning these and other biological fields. Previous SMP students have studied the behaviors of a variety of local animals (including deer, insects, isopods, and a wide diversity of birds), as well as other non-local taxa from the New World tropics. Some studies have used molecular phylogenies to examine how and why animal characteristics have evolved into the forms we see today. You can browse some of my recent papers, including a few co-authored with students, posted on my lab bulletin board. Current projects that students could jump right into include: the evolution of sexual dimorphism, song evolution in mockingbirds and relatives, the evolution of nest structures in Australian and African birds.. But I’d be happy to talk about any ideas you might have.
The rest to come soon!