Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Zach Hajian-Forooshani won the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Outstanding Poster Award. He performed his research as an ED-QUE2ST student during summer 2012 in Mexico with Professors John Vandermeer and Ivette Perfecto.

ED-QUE2ST Research Experience for Undergraduates is an NSF-funded summer research program especially for first and second year college students from backgrounds underrepresented in ecology and evolutionary biology.

“My research through ED-QUE2ST was trying to understand what is driving arboreal spider diversity on coffee farms,” Hajian Forooshani said. Along with his primary mentors, Linda Marín and Dave Gonthier, (Perfecto's graduate students), they found that elevation was the strongest predictor of arboreal spider richness and abundance. Perfecto is a professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

“The species composition was distinct among high and low elevation sites. With the more canopy connections to our sampled trees we found greater abundance and when there was forest present in the surrounding area the arboreal spiders seemed to prefer the living in the forest.” This was the research he featured on his award-winning UROP Research Scholars program poster. He is currently writing a paper about his research that he hopes to publish.

“My summer in the ED-QUE2ST program was just amazing,” Hajian-Forooshani said. “Living in a small house on a coffee farm in Mexico full of awesome scientists and aspiring scientists was the best possible way I could imagine spending the summer. I hope to continue working with the same lab group so I am applying for a master’s in EEB for 2014.”

He is currently at San Francisco State University working with Dr. Ed Conner for the summer through a research experience for undergraduates program. “The basic idea of the projects we are working on is trying to see if bacterial symbionts are responsible for the formation of insect induced galls,” he explained. Galls are an abnormal outgrowth of plant tissues. Hajian-Forooshani is majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology at U-M.

In this article:

Vandermeer, John

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