Project Overview

Exploring the microbiome

Faculty Sponsor

Ken Belanger (




The microbiome is the complete set of microorganisms comprising a particular environment. These microorganisms can have tremendous effects on the activity of the environment they inhabit, and the microbial composition of an environment can be altered signficantly by even minor changes in that environment. This project will investigate the microbiomes found on and in living organisms and how changes in diet, exercise, drug intake, or geographical location might result in alterations to microbiome composition. Possible host organisms to explore may include earthworms, hawks, dogs, or humans, depending upon sample availability and research project status. Students will prepare samples, extract and amplify DNA, submit DNA for sequencing, and perform bioinformatic analysis of DNA sequences obtain. A strong desire to investigate the primary literature and to learn new wet lab and computational techniques is important. This project may involve some travel for a week or two in June, depending upon the project undertaken and the schedules of collaborators. 

Student Qualifications

Completion of Biol 181, Biol 182, and a 200-level Biol course. Strong interest in bioinformatics and computational analyses in biology. 

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2022 and close on 02/04/2022

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (