1. K-State home
  2. »Office of Student Success
  3. »Undergraduate Research
  4. »Current Research Project Openings

Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry

Current Research Project Openings

As we receive undergraduate research assistant requests, we will post them on this page. Please check back frequently for new listings.  


Opportunities in Plant Pathology

Plant pathology is the study of plant diseases, their causes, effects, and control. Keeping plants healthy requires an understanding of the organisms and agents that cause disease as well as an understanding of how plants grow and are affected by disease. Our faculty have a wide range of expertise and frequently take undergraduate research students for research training opportunities in their labs. Many of our faculty also participate in the Interdepartmental Genetics Program. Our faculty research interests include: Plant Disease, Plant Health, Genetics (Plant genetics of models and crops, fungal genetics, population genetics, host plant resistance genetics), Microbiology (Fungi, Bacteria, Viruses), Pathogens (Fungi, Bacteria, Viruses, Nematodes), Plant-Microbe Interactions, Molecular biology, Genomics, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Epidemiology, Applied Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Disease diagnosis and management.

Student Assistant Activities: Will vary by lab

Department: Plant Pathology

Time Commitment: Will vary by lab

Required Skills: Will vary by lab

Course credit: Available via enrollment in PLPTH 495 Undergraduate Research in Plant Pathology for 0, 1, 2, or 3 credits.

Funding: May be available.

If interested, please contact Dr. Richard Todd (rbtodd@ksu.edu).   

(Agronomy) Soil Water Processes Lab

Our group focuses on studying soil properties and applications of soil moisture information in agriculture and hydrology. We investigate the spatial patterns of multiple soil properties at the field, regional, and state level. We also explore soil moisture changes in time in cropland and grassland. See the website for more information: https://soil-physics.github.io/ksu/.

Student Assistant Activities: Students in our lab learn how to take soil samples, conduct multiple analyses and handle instrumentation both laboratory and field conditions. Undergraduate student collaborate with projects led by graduate students, but highly motivated students can develop their own research ideas directly supervised by the principal investigator of the program.

Department: Agronomy  

Time Commitment: Flexible, in-campus schedule. About 10 hours per week.

Required Skills: Highly motivated, attention to detail, valid drivers license, enrolled in at least 6 credits

Funding: Depends on project and semester

If interested, please contact Dr. Andres Patrignani (andrespatrignani@ksu.edu).


Arts and Sciences

(Psychology) Effective of exercise on BDNF brain levels and improving cognition in animal model of autism

Project Description: Our lab is investigating how exercise can improve both levels of BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and cognition in an animal model of autism (ASD). Rats are induced with ASD symptoms and controls run for 4 weeks and then tested on attentino task. Level of BDNF will be quantified in the frontal cortex with ELISA assay.

Student Assistant Activities: Students help care for animals by doing animal checks providing food and water. Exercise the animals on a treadmill and run the behavioral tasks.

Department: Psychological Sciences

Time Commitment: 6-10 hours a weekRequired Skills: Undergrads need to be reliable and timely. They will be trained to handle animals and perform lab duties.

Course credit available

For more information contact: Dr. Bethany Plakke, bplakke@ksu.edu

(Psychology) The effects of social interactions on the neural circuits of fear and avoidance in rats

Project Description: The goal of this project is to determine whether the presence of another rat affects the acquisition and expression of active avoidance. We will use single-unit recordings in prelimbic (PL) and anterior cingulate (ACC) cortices and optogenetic silencing in PL and ACC to reveal the necessity of these prefrontal subregions in active avoidance in the presence of a social partner. These findings will advance our knowledge about the neural circuits of avoidance and their implications for anxiety disorders.
Student Assistant Activities: Assist with the following one or more of the following: animal care (feeding, weighing, watering, and breeding rats); setting up and running behavioral experiments; harvesting and processing of brain tissue (perfusions, tissue slicing and plating), fluorescent microscopy, data extraction and analysis, weekly lab meetings including paper discussions.
Department: Psychological Sciences

Time Commitment: 6-10 hours per week. Need to be available on some weekends and holidays for animal care and running experiments. A minimum commitment of 2 semesters is needed due to training required for carrying out research project.

Required skills: No skills are required, but it is preferred if you have any previous lab experience. We are looking for organized, detail-oriented, proactive students to join the lab with a strong interest in behavioral neuroscience. Freshman and Sophomores are encouraged to apply.
Course credit available. Students have the opportunity to receive funding after committing at least 1-2 semesters and demonstrating good performance in the lab.Number of assistants needed: 2-3
For more information contact: Dr. Maria Diehl, mmdiehl@ksu.edu

Project website: www.diehllab.com

(Geology) Modelling the stress field along continental rifts from tomography models

Project Description: The proposal investigates the role the mantle dynamics plays in the opening of mid-continental rifts

Student Assistant Activities: The students will model the stresses induced by the mantle flow and compare the outputs to geophysical data (mainly stresses). The program is already available and it takes students a few days to get familiar with it.

Department: Geology

Time Commitment: 5 to 20 hours a week

Required Skills: No skill required, although some interests in plate tectonics and/or informatics would be welcome. Enthusiasts are definitively welcome!

Funded position

For more information: Contact Dr. Claudia Adam, cadam@ksu.edu, (785) 532-6724

(Chemistry) Inventing New Ways to Make Molecules for Medicine, Agriculture and Energy through Organic Synthesis

The student will work alongside graduate students and postdocs in our research group, participating in the invention of new organic reactions and catalytic methods to synthesize small molecules for application in medicinal chemistry/pharmaceuticals, agrochemistry, materials and energy.

The student will be trained in the field of organic synthesis as broadly defined. This includes use of air-free and moisture-free techniques, purification techniques and analytical techniques, while screening reaction conditions to find and optimized synthetic process. 

The above techniques/instruments to be trained on include, but are not limited to: working under dry and inert atmosphere (glovebox), Gas Chromatography (GC), Liquid Chromatography (HPLC and SFC). This in addition to becoming proficient in the synthesis, purification of organic compounds and characterization via NMR and other spectroscopy techniques.

Student Assistant Activities: Setting up reactions, working them up, analyzing data/results; presenting biweekly reports; participating in group meetings and present both research and recent literature; may present research results at intra- or extramural scientific events/conferences; can become a co-author in peer-reviewed publications in scientific chemistry journals

Department: Chemistry

Time Commitment: Flexible to accommodate student's classes/schedule, but time to generate results and data to publish.

Required Skills: Currently taking Organic Chemistry courses or planning to take them (CHM350, CHM531 or CHM550)

Preferred Skills: Show motivation and continued interest in learning organic synthesis/organic chemistry

Course Credit: Available

If interested, please contact Dr. Socrates B. Munoz (socmunoz@ksu.edu)

Apply to the Developing Scholars Program.

Apply to Kansas State University.

Schedule a Visit to Kansas State University.

Explore scholarship opportunities at Kansas State University.