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STUDENT SUCCESS INTERNSHIPS: Yosemite Big Wall Plant Adaptation Project

Department Name: Life and Environmental Sciences
Project Supervisor Name(: Jason Sexton
Project Supervisor Email Address:

Who Can Participate:
Undergraduates who have been enrolled for at least one semester at the time of application with a minimum of 3.0 GPA may participate. First-year transfer students are eligible to apply. In addition, students must be in good academic and conduct standing with the University and be able to carry a full course load and still be able to complete the project experience.
Do I Get Paid?
A project provides students with the opportunity to apply classroom learning to real-world experiences. Upon completion of the project, the student will receive up to $3,000 awarded through the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships as a student stipend and will be added to your financial aid awards.

Job Description:
How do plants manage to live on the steepest environments on Earth? The intern will work alongside investigators to evaluate monkeyflower plant occurrence, adaptation, and gene flow across the famously steep walls of Yosemite Valley, including El Capitan. They will coordinate with Yosemite staff, including rock-climbing rangers and biologists, organize and maintain seed collections, propagate plants in UCM greenhouses, conduct statistical analyses, and perhaps perform genetic molecular techniques. Results will help us better understand how plants can colonize extreme environments, whether they are climate-adapted across such steep gradients, and what the patterns of connectivity (gene flow) are in Yosemite Valley.

Job Tasks:
The intern(s) will: Complete the processing of plant samples and environmental data; organize a database of samples; participate in summarizing environmental data (elevation, slope, aspect, and plant community) for statistical analysis; contribute to analyzing and summarizing data; propagate plant seeds collected from the face of El Capitan in growth chambers and/or greenhouses to measure plant traits and to collect tissue for DNA extraction. Participation in these tasks and working in coordination with researchers, the intern will further develop their abilities to communicate and coordinate with agency rangers and scientists, collect and organize laboratory data, think critically about how data are used to test hypotheses, and communicate findings.

Additional Requirements:
Coursework in ecological or evolutionary sciences, laboratory coursework, and field coursework or experience are preferred.