Blois Paleoecology Lab

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Undergraduate research is highly valued in the lab!  Generally, initial student work is aimed at familiarizing students with the kind of data and projects that are available to them in the Blois lab.  For examples, students may sort owl pellets or fossils and start to identify bones to genus.  Occasionally, students will help with mammal surveys on the Vernal Pools Reserve or with database tasks.  As students progress academically and in terms of lab experience, we will work together to develop a research project according to the students interests.

Students generally get undergraduate research credit (e.g., Bio or ESS 95, Bio or ESS 195) for work in the lab.  Students typically commit to 2 units of research credit or 6 hours per week, but this is flexible. In rare cases, paid opportunities may arise.

To apply to work in the Blois lab, please send Danaan DeNeve ( an application letter with the following information:

  1. Your name, major, year, and your expected graduation time
  2. A description of your own educational and career goals, and research interests
  3. What previous lab experience or other relevant experience do you have?
  4. A description of which aspects of the lab research are most interesting to you
  5. What research tasks most interest you? What research tasks don’t interest you? What tasks do you think you would be best at and why?
  6. How many hours/week could you devote?
  7. How/why would working for me/this lab assist you personally or with your career?

This letter is due by January 10.  At that point, the graduate studednts will evaluate the applications and determine whether and which students will be accepted into the lab.  Preference is given to Bio/Eco-Evo and ESS students.

Students are expected to:

  • Work in the lab for the agreed-on number of hours
  • Meet with their graduate student supervisor at the beginning of the semester to develop a series of research goals for the students work
  • Write a summary/report of the work they have performed in the lab and meet with the graduate student supervisor to discuss at the end of the semester.

Spring 2019 Opportunities

  • Geometric Morphometrics of river otter crania
  • Ancient DNA
  • Modern DNA
  • Morphometrics of Rodent teeth
  • Molding & Casting rodent teeth

Summer 2019 Opportunities

There are two positions available this summer.

  1. Summer field and lab assistant working with Professor Jessica Blois. For this field- and lab-based project, a student assistant will help Dr. Blois with cave excavations and fossil identification. Part of the time will be spent excavating fossil deposits, part of the work will involve sieving through sediments and bones in/near a river, and part of the work will involve sorting through bones back in the lab. The outdoor work will involve difficult field conditions, including hiking up and down steep slopes, crawling through and spending time in caves, carrying gear to and from the caves, and working outdoors in hot conditions. We anticipate spending most of May-June in the field, and most of July-August back in the lab at UC Merced. See more info and apply here. Applications due 4/5/2019.
  2. The Mesocarnivore Summer Research Program. This 6 week internship will be located in Los Angeles at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, working with postdoctoral scholar Mairin Balisi. See the full description on her website. Applications due 4/26/2019.


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