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Are you NSU Faculty looking for undergraduate student assistance on a research project?

Complete this form or email Jeff Hartman.


Research Opportunities at NSU


Algae Biosoprtion of Heavy Metals

  • Project description: We are determining how two species of algae Neochloris Alveolaris and Neochloris Minuta biosorb heavy metals. These algae are grown in different media that change their biochemical compositions (carbohydrate, protein and lipids) and we are trying to determine how the these changes influence their biosorption of metals. In addition, we have noticed that their biosorption might be depended on metal size (they like to biosorb larger metal ions rather than smaller) so we are now started to test that hypothesis.
  • Recommended majors: Chemistry, Biology, Marine Biology, Environmental Sciences
  • Preferred experience: Some Chemistry coursework (preferably at least General Chemistry)
  • Possibility of co-authorship: Yes
  • Position description: Research Volunteer (unpaid)
  • Time commitment: Twice a week for 3 hours each day (total 6 hours per week)
  • Semester: Winter 2021, Summer 2021, Fall 2021

Contact Dimitri Giarikos at for more information.

Assessment of Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Activity and Faunal Diversity Associated with Tortoise Burrows using Trail Cameras at Two South Florida Natural Areas

  • Project description: The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is an ecologically important organism distributed throughout the southeastern United States. Gopher tortoises are a keystone species due to the burrows they create. These excavated habitats provide shelter for hundreds of commensal species that escape from wildfires and extreme heat during summer months. Six trail cameras (three at each site) were deployed at the entrance of gopher tortoise burrows in two natural areas (Fern Forest and Military Trail) in Broward County. Motion-activated cameras took pictures of animals at the burrow entrance over a 21-month period. Cameras were left in the field between 5-14 days at a time before retrieving and swapping out SD cards. Data collected thus far revealed a total of ten species recorded at dens in Fern Forest over a total of 104 camera days, while a total of six species were recorded at dens in Military Trail over a total of 135 camera days. Gopher tortoises were captured in a total of 339 pictures at Military Trail of a total of 864 pictures taken and 1,192 pictures at Fern Forest of a total of 7,154 pictures taken. This data will provide insight into the activity and use of dens by the protected Gopher Tortoise and associated animals in its habitat.
  • Recommended majors: Biology, Marine Biology, Environmental Science
  • Preferred experience: None required; students will be trained.
  • Possibility of co-authorship: Yes
  • Position description: Research Volunteer (unpaid)
  • Time commitment: 8 weeks ,10 hours per week
  • Semester: Winter 2021, Summer 2021

Contact: Dr. Paul Arena at for more information.

Coral X-radiograph Densitometry Software Programming

  • Project description: Students will write a software program for use in Win 10 to measure coral density, using X-radiograph images. 
  • Recommended experience: Programming for Windows operating systems, image analysis
  • Position description: Volunteer; funding can be available to the right person.
  • Time commitment: flexible, up to 20 hrs/wk
  • Semester: Summer 2021, Fall 2021

Contact Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D. at  for more information.

The Effect of Carbon Dioxide on Individual and School Swimming Performance in a Coral Reef Fish.

  • Focus: The goal of this project is to evaluate if individual and/or group (i.e. school) swimming performance may be hindered by projected future carbon dioxide (CO2) conditions under climate change. Video analysis of the redbelly yellowtail fusilier (Caesio cuning) will involve measurements of tail-beat frequency (i.e. the number of times that the tail swings back and forth at a given swimming speed) in solitary and schooling fish. We hypothesize that fish exposed to high CO2 conditions increase their tail-beat frequency to cope with elevated water flow rates when compared to those accustomed to present-day conditions. These changes could have profound impacts on their energy requirements if so. We will also assess school performance, including position preference and shuffling in the group as well as school shape, density, and volume, to assess how projected future climate change may functionally alter social behavior on coral reefs. The undergraduate will work under the mentorship of Dr. Lauren Nadler (Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences) and a graduate student to complete the work. In addition to research, students will also be expected to read and discuss the scientific literature related to this project topic during regular meetings.
  • Recommended majors: Marine Biology/Environmental Science
  • Preferred experience: No experience required
  • Possibility of co-authorship: Yes
  • Position Description: Research Volunteer (unpaid)
  • Time commitment: 16 weeks, 10 hours per week
  • Semester: Fall 2021

Contact: Dr. Lauren Nadler at for more information.

Game-Based Cognitive Training

  • FocusIn this project we will complete initial development of a gaming-oriented cognitive training app to promote improved psychomotor speed, attention, and executive function in older adults with age-related cognitive decline.
  • Position description: Research Volunteer (unpaid)
  • Student Participation: Any major; programming experience and interest in video game creation essential.
  • Time Commitment: Five or more hours per week.
  • Skills/Experience: ·  Knowledge of C# and Unity helpful

Contact: Dr. Raymond Ownby at for more information.

Independent Study Opportunities

Independent student opportunities are available in the following areas:

  1. A Phase II study of Bacopa in Gulf War Illness (GWI)
  2. Oleoylethanolamide supplement in GWI
  3. Identifying APOE4 related lipid biomarkers for diagnosing chronic neurocognitive deficits in TBI patients
  4. A Phase I/II study of B cell depletion Therapy in Gulf War Illness
  5. Nicotinamide riboside clinical trial for GWI
  6. Exploring dietary influence on complex multi-symptom illnesses by exploring molecular mechanisms and genomics
  7. Exploring Autism - A comprehensive study

Contact: Amanpreet Cheema, PhD at for more information.

Introduction to Biology Research I/II (Course)

  • Course description: This course is a unique undergraduate research opportunity designed for freshman and/or sophomore-level students interested in a career in the sciences. Students will take ownership of their own research project by formulating a hypothesis and designing experiments to test their hypothesis, thus allowing students to experience what it is like to be a research scientist. Specifically, students will work on a discovery-based research project to attempt to discover novel viruses that target bacteria as an antibiotic alternative to killing bacteria. Throughout the process, students will collect and analyze their data and then present their findings. This course is part of a two-course sequence; therefore, students are required to enroll in BIOL 1001: Introduction to Biology Research II Lab in the Winter semester. Pre-Requisites: MATH 1040 or higher and COMP 1000.
  • Recommended majors: Open to all majors.
  • Pre-requisites: MATH 1040 or higher and COMP 1000. No prior research experience necessary.
  • Time commitment: Two days per week, two-three hours per day.
  • Credit: Course Credit and one (1) ExEL unit.
  • Semesters: Fall 2021

Contact: Dr. Julie Torruellas Garcia at for more information.


  • Project description: Dr. Lopez's research pivots on the action of genes/genomes, microbes and evolution. For 25 years, his work has applied genomics tools to address various specific questions in marine biology, invertebrate-microbial symbiosis, microbial ecology, forensics, metagenomics, gene expression, and systematics/phylogenetics. Professor Lopez is part of the DEEPEND Consortium ( to better understand food webs and marine microbial distributions in the deep Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He was one of the founding members for the non-profit Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance (GIGA -, and is now GIGA president conveying the mission to help coordinate marine invertebrate whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics training for students. GIGA has had a close association with the AGA since its inception, and is also part of the wider Earth Biogenome Project ( Lopez’s symbiosis research has focused on microbial communities (“microbiomes”) of sponges, sharks, humans and bats, and recently Port Everglades Inlet sediments The Lopez molecular genomics laboratory now applies metagenomics methods to characterize the water quality of local S. Florida habitats, especially focusing on microbiomes related to harmful algal blooms (HABs). We have recently begun a project to sequence the whole genomes of 100 aquatic invertebrate species pairs - This project's analyses portion will require bioinformatics interest and expertise with Linux, Bash etc.
  • Recommended majors: Biology, Computer Science
  • Preferred experience: PCR, DNA, R
  • Possibility of co-authorship: Yes
  • Position description: Research Volunteer (unpaid)
  • Time commitment: 4 - 10 hours per week
  • Semester: Winter 2021, Summer 2021

Contact: Dr. Jose V. Lopez at for more information.

Survival and Development of Zebra Longwing, Heliconius charithonia, on Native and Non-native Passion Vines, Passiflora sp., in South Florida

  • Project description: Zebra longwing butterflies (Heliconius charithonia) are distributed throughout the southernmost regions of the United States to South America and are abundant across Florida. These heliconian butterflies not only consume nectar, but are also known to feed on pollen, resulting in a longer lifespan than most butterflies. In their larval stage, H. charithonia feed exclusively on Passiflora sp., however larval performance and survival across the diversity of Passion vine species is not well documented. We examined these criteria of zebra longwings from egg to adulthood on two passion vines native to Florida, corky stem (Passiflora suberosa) and maypop (Passiflora incarnata), as well as one non-native species, bluecrown (Passiflora caerulea). Zebra longwing females were caught in the wild and kept in enclosures to lay their eggs. The eggs from one female were distributed evenly into enclosures, each containing one Passiflora sp. Percent survival from egg to larvae, larvae to chrysalis, chrysalis to adult, and egg to adult was determined, as well as forewing length of adults for each Passiflora sp. Preliminary results indicated a potential incompatibility between H. charithonia larvae and Passiflora caerulea, while the greatest survival occurred with larvae reared on Passiflora suberosa.
  • Recommended majors: Biology, Environmental Science, Marine Biology
  • Preferred experience: None required; students will be trained.
  • Possibility of co-authorship: Yes
  • Position description: Research Volunteer (unpaid)
  • Time commitment: 8 weeks; 5 hours/wk
  • Semester: Winter 2021, Summer 2021

Contact Dr. Paul Arena at for more information.

Trophics and Contaminants in Marine Fauna

  • Project description:  Several projects in the Charismatic Megafauna and Oceanography Laboratory (CMOL) studying both inorganic and organic contaminants in marine mammals, birds, and fishes in water bodies around the world. We utilize a variety of tissues, the study of food web dynamics, and bioaccumulation of contaminants.
  • Recommended majors: Biology, Marine Biology, Environmental Science
  • Preferred experience: This research must be pertinent of a student's career aspirations.
  • Possibility of co-authorship: Yes
  • Position description: Research Volunteer (unpaid)
  • Time commitment: 8-10 hours per week
  • Semester: Summer 2021

Contact: Dr. Amy Hirons at for more information.

Volatile Organic Compounds in Periodontal Disease and Oral Bacteria

  • Project description: Periodontal disease is the 6th most common inflammatory disease worldwide, affecting half of the American population and eventually destroys the tooth-supporting tissues leading to tooth loss. Periodontitis is associated with increased risk of various critical, systemic disorders including cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal and pulmonary infections, cancer, diabetes and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Recent research has demonstrated malodors are produced in the advanced stage of periodontal disease. However, the contribution of odors and their amounts to the disease process/progression is unknown. Our lab focuses on identifying these unique malodors as potential biomarkers that can serve as indicators of severity and stage of this progressive disease.
  • Recommended majors: Biology and Chemistry
  • Preferred experience: Some lab experience (BIOL1500, BIOL1510, CHEM1300, or CHEM1310)
  • Possibility of co-authorship: Yes
  • Position description: Research Volunteer or Independent Study
  • Time commitment:  12-14 weeks total in the summer, 3 days a week (about 3-5 hours a day)
  • Semester: Summer 2021
Contact:  Katie Crump, Ph.D. and Jessica Brown, Ph.D. (co-PIs) at, for more information.
NSU Research Pages

Areas of Research

College of Dental Medicine

College of Osteopathic Medicine

College of Psychology

Department of Biological Sciences

Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography

Health Professions Research

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