Sonoma, CA, United States
Sonoma, CA, United States

Sonoma State University is a public comprehensive university which is part of the 23-campus California State University system. The main campus is located in Rohnert Park, California, United States approximately 10 miles south of Santa Rosa and 50 miles north of San Francisco. The university is one of the smallest of the 23 CSU campuses in California. The university offers 92 Bachelor's degrees, 19 Master's degrees, one Doctoral degree , and 11 teaching credentials. Wikipedia.

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Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EarthCube | Award Amount: 299.33K | Year: 2013

Scientists who work in the field have a common set of issues when it comes to documenting,storing, and representing data. Members from the different geological communities would benefitgreatly from the opportunity to discuss the types of data that they collect in the field with a group of cyberinfrastructure and software development professionals and researchers. By holding meetings in the field, the computer scientists will gain a better appreciation for the types of data that are typically collected in the field, common methods for collecting those data, the field tools/technology that are employed, data recording conventions, and the types of question typically addressed with these data. The field is an ideal location for appreciating geological concepts, and the very act of being in the field, together with other professionals, often foster personal connections that promote successful collaborations
and the exchange of ideas.

Work on this RCN will facilitate digitization of geological field data. The researchers will take steps to: 1) Document what exists currently for field data collection; 2) Assemble a community for discussing and exploring field data collection issues, specifically targeting young investigators; 3) Motivate distinct communities to work together on common issues associated with digitization; 4) Evaluate what is missing in the creation of open and accessible data. The objective of the RCN Proposal is to develop communication between cyberinfrastructure community and those involved in field-based, solid earth geoscience. In order to facilitate knowledge of the activities, they will conduct a series of both informal and formal meetings as national meetings - workshops at GSA and townhall meetings at AGU and AAPG). The goal of the initial meetings will be to: 1) foster community awareness of EarthCube-related activities, 2) discover and catalog the additional existing resources, 3) determine ways of giving publication ?credit? for recording and sharing digital data, 4) identify attributes of a clearinghouse website that would be most useful, and 5) find ways of motivating the community to move quickly toward digital data collection/conversion and data sharing.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: DISCOVERY RESEARCH K-12 | Award Amount: 239.84K | Year: 2014

The expected detection of the first gravitational waves through the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) will create a paradigm shift in the way the Universe is viewed, as well as confirming an important prediction of Einsteins Theory of General Relativity. The activities in this award will provide community college faculty and lower-division college students with the tools to view the Universe in an entirely new and different way and with insights into LIGOs daunting technological challenges, just in time to appreciate the expected first detections of gravitational waves.

The award will enable the creation of new science and technology content for the LIGO College Faculty Resource Website. This content will be also be used in the online course Teaching Einsteins Universe to College Students which will be offered for academic or continuing education credits to community college faculty nationwide.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANTARCTIC ORGANISMS & ECOSYST | Award Amount: 618.26K | Year: 2016

The project will integrate analyses of fish physiology, protein production and genetics to determine if regulation of molecular chaperones (a class of proteins that facilitate the proper folding of proteins in a cell) has been permanently lost in a key fish species (Trematomus bernacchii) inhabiting the Southern Ocean. To do so, efforts will be undertaken to analyze chaperones in these fishes and how elevated temperatures impact protein turnover and protein damage. These studies should more definitively determine if the interruption of chaperone function is environmentally controlled (which could suggest these fish could benefit in some form by increasing sea surface temperatures) or if there is complete loss of chaperone function due to a change in its structure through evolutionary processes (which would suggest these fish are less likely to be able to adapt to warming). In addition to filling key gaps in our knowledge about the diversity and evolution of fishes in the southern ocean and the potential impacts changing temperatures might have on fish populations, the project will support the training of undergraduate and graduate students at an RUI institution. Specifically, activities and content directly related to this projects aims will be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum at Sonoma State University in an effort to increase undergraduate participation in research, especially with respect to underrepresented groups.

The project has specific aims to perform a comparative analysis of nucleotide divergence resulting in non-synonymous amino acid changes in the trans-regulatory elements, namely members of the heat shock factor (HSF) family of transcription factors, in T. bernacchii and N. angustata. The project will also utilize metabolic labeling of newly synthesized proteins from isolated hepatocytes to monitor protein turnover rates in fish acclimated to both -1.5 and +4 °C for an extended period. Changes in chaperoning capacity and levels of damaged proteins will be quantified in multiple tissues to gain a better understanding of the cellular requirements for maintaining protein homeostasis under long-term acclimations to +4 °C. In combination, the work will help answer questions regarding divergence in these fishes as well a fundamental information regarding protein structure and function that may also have bio-medical implications.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 584.71K | Year: 2016

Research has shown that STEM learning is enhanced when students experiences are authentic and meaningful, e.g., when students see direct connections between what they learn and their own lived experiences and the surrounding community. During the last ten years there has been prolific growth of Makerspaces, hackerspaces, and Fab labs that are accessible to students and provide an environment that introduces students to methods and technologies that they can use to arrive at solutions relevant to society and their lives. This project aims to increase retention rates for college students majoring in STEM disciplines by creating a university Makerspace laboratory and an associated Sophomore Year Experience (SYE) course. The STEM-SYE course aims to develop specific skills, including technical skills, group collaboration, project design, planning and execution, and the ability to present and defend results.

The project will impact sophomore STEM majors through three major program elements: 1) The design, creation, and implementation of a multi-disciplinary STEM sophomore-year experience course; 2) the creation of a campus Makerspace to support the proposed curriculum and to foster an inclusive community by providing learning and service opportunities; and 3) the improvement of the knowledge base for defining effective undergraduate STEM education. The education goal will be guided by two research questions: How does the developed innovative pedagogy impact students motivation and retention in STEM fields? Do the skill sets introduced through low-cost campus Makerspaces lead to gains in students future performance and career readiness? Education research conducted by the project team will measure the influence of the new course, and will provide formative input on the course development process, replicability and scalability. To document learning and retention gains from the program, external evaluators will quantify progress toward achieving specific learning outcomes and improving the retention and graduation rate of STEM students.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: TECTONICS | Award Amount: 16.52K | Year: 2016

This award will support the fourth biannual Structural Geology and Tectonics Forum, which will be held in August 2016 at Sonoma State University. The forum will bring together specialists in structural geology and tectonics for oral and poster presentations, field trips, and short courses. The meeting will include three days of presentations that will include technical sessions that will include topics such as quantification of fault slip, lithospheric deformation and rheology, faulting and fluid flow, development of tectonic microstructures, and geoscience education. Each session will highlight an important area of current research and/or education, will be anchored by a distinguished keynote speaker, and will showcase relevance of work on the topic. Poster sessions with abundant time for full participant interaction will accompany each session. The forum will be organized to maximize the exchange of ideas between participants in open discussions. Sessions will provide ample opportunity to ask questions of individual presenters, assess the current state of our knowledge, and consider productive areas for future research. In addition to the formal meeting, there will be pre- and post-meeting field trips to examine the geology of selected areas in the San Francisco and Sonoma areas of northern California, including the San Andreas Fault and related fault systems, as well as other areas of geologic interest in northern California. Short course topics will include preparing graduate students for academic careers in the earth sciences, preparation of samples for analysis by electron backscatter detection (EBSD) methods, teaching structural geology and tectonics, quantitative and statistical treatment of structural geology data, new methods of constructing balanced geological cross sections, and analysis of geologic and tectonics structures using finite element modeling.

The forum is designed to facilitate community building and personal interaction within different segments of the structural geology community. It will bring together faculty from research universities, liberal arts colleges, community and two-year colleges, and minority-serving institutions. Importantly, there will be group discussions on critical developments in structural geology and tectonics, and what future research priorities should be. This community building effort will help create a stronger, more vibrant group of scientists and help introduce graduate students and advanced undergraduates to the structural geology and tectonics disciplines. The setting will be particularly useful for graduate students, who will be able to use the venue and informal nature of the forum to find out what research is taking place at other institutions, meet a wide range of faculty, and develop useful contacts which will be of great value to their future careers. Students will also be able to present their own work in a friendly environment where they can obtain thoughtful and useful feedback, as well as providing opportunity to build new scientific collaborations. Abstracts, field guides, and short course notes will be disseminated through a dedicated website that will be publicly accessible.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANTARCTIC ORGANISMS & ECOSYST | Award Amount: 85.13K | Year: 2014

The proposed research will investigate the interacting and potentially synergistic influence of two oceanographic features - ocean acidification and the projected rise in mean sea surface temperature - on the performance of Notothenioids, the dominant fish of the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Understanding the joint effects of acidification and temperature rise on these fish is a vital component of predicting the resilience of coastal marine ecosystems. Notothenioids have repeatedly displayed a narrow window of physiological tolerances when subjected to abiotic stresses. Given that evolutionary adaptation may have led to finely-tuned traits with narrow physiological limits in these organisms, this system provides a unique opportunity to examine physiological trade-offs associated with acclimation to the multi-stressor environment expected from future atmospheric CO2 projections. Understanding these trade-offs will provide valuable insight into the capacity species have for responses to climate change via phenotypic plasticity. As an extension to functional measurements, this study will use evolutionary approaches to map variation in physiological responses onto the phylogeny of these fishes and the genetic diversity within species. These approaches offer insight into the historical constraints and future potential for evolutionary optimization. The research will significantly expand the genomic resources available to polar researchers and will support the training of graduate students and a post doc at an EPSCoR institution. Research outcomes will be incorporated into classroom curriculum.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH | Award Amount: 288.15K | Year: 2015

As the Earths climate becomes warmer and more variable, characteristics that help organisms cope with stress will become increasingly important. This research investigates beetles living at high elevation in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California to study how variation in genes coding for proteins that process energy and respond to stress affect metabolism and performance. The research seeks to discover the contrasting roles of oxygen, which is necessary to process metabolic fuel, and temperature, which changes the rate at which these processes occur. It is a synthesis of genomics, physiology, and animal natural history that will provide a unique opportunity to understand how organisms cope with environmental change. It will provide insight into the evolution of thermal plasticity and may unveil novel genes associated with temperature and oxygen stress. The work will increase research opportunities for students at two primarily undergraduate universities. Students will be trained in experimental design and analysis, proposal and paper writing, and in the presentation of research at scientific meetings, which will provide them with marketable skills for the modern work environment. Educational materials will be developed for K12 education, which illustrate the use of genomic tools for answering scientific questions. Outreach events detailing the results of this project will occur at public events in the San Francisco Bay Area and near field sites in Inyo County, California.

This project will develop and use genomic and transcriptomic tools to gain mechanistic insights into the genetic basis of adaptation to temperature and atmospheric oxygen in the Sierra willow leaf beetle Chrysomela aeneicollis. This research will test the hypothesis that interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes have pervasive effects on gene expression that scale up to differences in metabolic capacity and performance. To test this hypothesis, the stress response will be investigated in larvae from populations that differ with respect to mitochondrial and nuclear genetic background and that occur along a latitudinal and steep altitudinal temperature gradients. Larvae will be reared at a high elevation laboratory in chambers where oxygen level and temperature will be manipulated. At the end of the growth period, larvae reared under these different conditions will be exposed to different temperatures and running speed measured. Genetic variation associated with fast and slow running speed after stress will be identified using whole genome sequencing of individuals in the upper and lower tails of the running speed distribution. Differences in expression of genes of interest will be assessed using RNA sequencing for these same individuals. Genes of interest (e.g. stress, hypoxia, central metabolism) that have non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variation along natural temperature or elevation gradients will be identified in whole genome sequencing experiments and used to build SNP panels in which larger numbers of individuals can be screened. Rearing conditions described above will then be used to generate larvae in which metabolic physiology will be examined. Metabolic enzyme activity, mitochondrial respiration, oxidative damage and thermal tolerance will be measured, SNP variation recorded, and differential expression of genes of interest quantified using quantitative PCR. Taken together, this research will reveal how mitochondrial and nuclear genomes interact to cope with stress in a changing environment. The project will establish a new international collaboration with world leading experts in insect genomics from Stockholm University (Sweden). International collaborators will help organize and lead a two-week hands-on workshop on genomics and bioinformatics for undergraduate and Masters students from Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University. Additionally, Masters students from Sonoma State University will travel to Stockholm University to receive training in genomics and bioinformatics. International activities and travel will be supported by funds from the International Science and Engineering section of NSFs Office of International and Integrative Activities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Integrative Ecologi Physiology | Award Amount: 14.28K | Year: 2016

In the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, like many high altitude environments, snow cover is extremely variable from year to year. Many high altitude animals survive through winter underneath snow that buffers them from extremes of temperature. Many unique and ecologically important animals live in mountainous environments, making it vital to understand and predict impacts of annual differences in snow cover on their population abundances, but as yet we have limited understanding of how snow impacts survival and reproduction of insects and other animals. This project proposes to study physiological and genetic responses to variation in snow cover in a high altitude beetle in the laboratory and the natural environment to understand how snow alters reproductive success during the winter and subsequent summer. This work will develop a partnership between UC-Berkeley and two Primarily Undergraduate Institutions. Undergraduates at the Primarily Undergraduate Institutions will work with researchers from Berkeley, and Berkeley PhD students will supervise undergraduates from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Thus both groups of students will be exposed to the culture of different educational institutions and will have access to professional contacts outside their usual network. A curriculum module developed from the project for K-12 students will be used to contribute towards their understanding of challenges that organisms face in snowy climates, and this module will be distributed to K-12 teachers through a UC Berkeley-based website.

For high altitude animals, summer is a time of energy gain, while energy conservation is key during winter because resources are scarce and animals rely on energy stores. To resist winter cold, high altitude insects use energy stores to synthesize metabolically expensive cryoprotectants. This may generate a trade-off between cold hardiness and energy conservation. Snow buffers thermal fluctuations, decreasing cold mortality and need for cold hardiness. However, since temperatures are greater beneath snow than in a snow-free, exposed habitat, there may be increased overall energy demand associated with living under snow. Due to the energetic trade-off, inter-annual fluctuations in winter snowpack and air temperature will alter selective pressures on overwintering organisms, and may significantly affect growth and reproduction in summer. The central hypothesis is that variation in snow cover alters selective pressures on cold hardiness and energy conservation, influencing physiological performance of overwintering individuals and genetic composition of survivors. The investigators further hypothesize that cold hardiness trades off against future reproduction by depleting winter energy reserves due to energetic costs of cold hardiness. The research will: 1) Measure how variation in snow alters selective gradients on winter-relevant genetic variation in a high altitude beetle, and isolate causal drivers of winter selective gradients. 2) Gain a predictive and quantitative understanding of how cold and energy stressors interact to shape physiological performance during winter and the subsequent summer. 3) Uncover mechanisms underlying interactions between cold and energy stress by asking how single or combined stressors alter reaction norms for energy reserves and cryoprotectants.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Integrative Ecologi Physiology | Award Amount: 60.09K | Year: 2016

The impacts of environmental change on animals and plants is well established, and numerous studies have shown that not only does environmental change alter the physiological health of species, it also can alter the ways in which species interact with one another. It also suggests that some of the first detectable impacts of environmental change may lie in alterations in the ability of organisms to grow and reproduce, rather than just lethality. This project will develop a framework for looking at the impacts of extreme environmental change on an ecologically and economically important bivalve species, the mussel Mytilus edulis, in the Gulf of Maine, which is warming at an unusually fast rate. Importantly, our modeling framework is, for the first time, able to account for the interactions of temperature change with the additional stresses that occur in the presence of predators. These models will therefore not only advance our basic understanding of how multiple stressors affect animals in nature, but also will provide a mechanism for predicting the impacts of environmental change under realistic field conditions that are often ignored by laboratory-only based experiments. The project also will create novel methods for teaching high school students about the impacts of extreme change on their local environments using cutting-edge virtual-reality technology coupled with hands-on experiential learning in the field.

This project seeks to develop a predictive energetics (Dynamic Energy Budget) approach to quantitatively explore the potentially interactive effects of abiotic (temperature) and biotic (risk of predation) stressors on intertidal mussels. The central question that addressed by this project is, how unreliable may predictions of the impacts of environmental change be if a focus is placed only on the isolated rather than combined influence of abiotic or biotic stressors? A framework that considers the effects of environmental change on multiple, interacting species is sorely needed. Building upon an energetics model already parameterized to quantify the effects of temperature and food availability on the mussel Mytilus edulis, this project expands the approach to examine how predation risk - the fear of being eaten - may alter thermal sensitivity under more realistic field conditions where predators are present. Previous work by this team has shown that the effects of predation risk are comparable to, or exceed those, caused by predicted climate scenarios, but very few attempts have been made to place these risk effects within a bioenergetics framework, especially in marine systems. This proposal capitalizes on the highly complementary approaches of two research groups to develop a predictive framework examining the cumulative effects of abiotic and biotic stressors on growth, maximum size and reproduction of an important ecosystem engineer under realistic field and trophic interaction conditions.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANTARCTIC ORGANISMS & ECOSYST | Award Amount: 99.97K | Year: 2015

The central dogma of molecular biology states that the genetic code is housed in DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid), from which RNA (RiboNucleic Acid) transcripts are produced that are then translated into proteins that ultimately affect the function of an organism. Within the last decade, the role of RNA has dramatically expanded beyond that of an intermediary molecule, and small RNA (including microRNA, or miRNA) research has rapidly expanded, shedding light on the role non-coding RNAs play in many aspects of biology, including development and disease progression. The goal of this project is to better understand the roles of miRNAs in non-model systems, specifically fishes from the Southern Ocean, which will, at the same time, generate insight into the capacity of these fishes that are only found in Antarctica to respond to cellular stress. In addition to concerns about changing oceans (higher temperatures, lower pH, changing salinities), fishing within the Southern Ocean has increased significantly. Thus, a more clear understanding of the susceptibility of polar fish populations will lead to a greater understanding of how to better approach management of these unique marine ecosystems. This project will also provide cutting edge research opportunities for students at a Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI), helping the students build the tools necessary to succeed in an increasingly technical research field.

This project will integrate several molecular approaches to functionally characterize microRNAs (miRNAs) and the role they play in regulating the cellular stress response in notothenioid fish. Previous research efforts have provided evidence to support the loss of regulatory control for a portion of the cellular stress response in these fish. The team will undertake a transcriptome wide analysis of the expression of miRNAs in these fish and correlate those expression patterns with changes in mRNA (messenger RNA) abundance of stress response genes under elevated temperatures. Furthermore, the PI?s lab will perform functional characterization of the putative miRNAs by over-expression of these short, non-coding RNAs in cultured fish cells. These functional analyses will help determine if the miRNA displays regulatory control over the abundance of RNA transcripts for a key set of molecular chaperones that assist with protein folding. Ultimately, these studies will shed new light on the possible interruption of the classical heat shock response in these fish and provide critical insight into their capacity to adapt to the expected changes in the Southern Ocean. Although high risk in nature, (this work has rarely been performed in non-model species) this project will provide an unprecedented window into the regulatory mechanisms that link changes in gene expression and a suite of physiological changes, measured from the whole organism to the cell, in an individual, non-model fish.

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