Kipling Will, Professor

Closed (1) Using CalBug databasing to add new species records for the Carabid Beetles of California

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

With nearly 800 species Carabid beetles are one of the most common and diverse groups of beetles in California. Therefore, they are also one of the most ecologically significant and knowing their distribution in time and space is essential to understanding our biodiversity. As a target group for the CalBug digitization project in the Essig Museum of Entomology, Berkeley, we have found many species not previously recorded in the published literature for California. This project aims to digitize examples of every species of carabid beetle in the Essig collection and develop a more complete checklist for the state. This project is intended to result in a publication that could potentially include the student as an author.

The student will assist in sorting and locating specimens for digitization. He/she will complete imaging and data entry for carabid beetle specimens, including georeferencing, and help develop the checklist using literature records and specimens.

Qualifications: Ability to safely handle specimens, attention to detail, excellent computer skills and willingness to learn about digitization and specimen identification.

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs

Related website: http://calbug.berkeley.edu/

Closed (2) Effects of fire on arthropod communities in the Mount Diablo range

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

Insects are bioindicators of fire disturbance due to their sensitivity to environmental change and their habitat requirements. Understanding the effects of fire on the arthropod community of Mount Diablo after the recent fires on it's northeast slopes will better inform management practices aimed at preserving species diversity. The aim of the project is to explore the relationship between arthropod species diversity and time elapsed after the fire, and between species diversity and fire intensity. Various trapping methods are being used for monthly sampling and target taxa include beetles, moths and scorpions.


Assisting with monthly sampling including trap set up and take down, sampling sorting and preparation and data entry. Exact tasks will be dependent on the student's skills and availability.

Qualifications: Physically capable of doing field work including carrying a moderate amount of weight (about 35 lb) through somewhat rugged natural terrain. Experience with or strong interest in insects or other terrestrial arthropods. Schedule that allows for some days each month off campus in East Bay near Mt. Diablo. Data entry skills are a plus.

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs

Related website: https://baynature.org/articles/lots-insects-mount-diablo/

Closed (3) Visualizing the genes behind bombardier beetles' chemical explosiveness using gland whole mount fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH)

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

This project will visualize spatial gene expression patterns in dissected glands of Brachinus bombardier beetles using FISH techniques, which are widely used in many biological fields. This effort is part of a broader project to understand the evolution and biosynthesis of chemical defense production in ground beetles, including bombardier beetles famous for their ability to explosively discharge defensive compounds at boiling temperatures.

This project is ideal for any student interested in evolutionary and/or molecular biology. The student will acquire skills including development of fluorescent probes, visualization of labelled genes, implementation of advanced wet lab protocols (i.e. FISH), and mixing chemical solutions. The student will also be exposed to computational and bioinformatic methods used to identify and evolutionarily analyze candidate genes involved in chemical biosynthetic pathways.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Aman Gill, Post-Doc

Qualifications: The student must be responsible, motivated, organized, and hard working. Applicants with prior experience with wet lab benchwork (i.e. working with DNA or chemicals in a laboratory setting) and interests in evolutionary biology or entomology are strongly encouraged. Training in molecular and chemical methods will be developed in close association with a postdoc in the Will lab.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated