The Global Change & Conservation Lab at the Missouri Botanical Garden is searching for a paid, summer intern to do independent research on climate change and plants as part of the Garden’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.
Anthropogenic climate change has profound consequences for the timing of biological processes (phenology) and the manner in which animals and plants respire (physiology). Climatic warming has already been observed to alter the date of reproduction of many species. Concurrently, increases in carbon dioxide have reduced the need for plants to develop dense arrays of stomata (plant “nostrils”), which are necessary for uptake of carbon dioxide but are also liabilities as they serve as conduits by which plants lose water. In this project, the REU would work with Dr. Adam Smith to assess the phenological and physiological response of plants to climate change across the last century. Specifically, the REU would score plant specimens according to their phenological state (not flowering, flowering, fruiting, setting seed) and measure stomatal densities using a compound microscope. Most of the project would be conducted in the Garden herbarium, one of the largest in the world. The successful applicant will be enthusiastic about conservation of plants, detail-oriented, and able to make thoughtful judgments for cases that do not “neatly” fall into the standard case. The REU would also be supported by a team of peer-mentors in the Global Change & Conservation Lab. The Global Change Lab is a neurodiverse-friendly community.