Undergraduate Research Training
We frequently have opportunity for undergraduate students to join our team and get research experience working on our ongoing projects. Please inquire with a CV and brief Statement of Interests directly to Philipp Zerbe [pzerbe (at) ucdavis (dot) edu]
BIS103 - Bioenergetics & Metabolism (Undergraduate, Spring Quarter)
This course will enable students to describe how the major biomolecules in living systems are interconverted to provide energy to do biological work including the synthesis of needed biomolecules. Students will build upon their BIS102 skills to use quantitative methods to examine molecular processes in living systems and to predict the direction of cellular conversions.
PBI200B - Plant Specialized Metabolism (Graduate, Winter Quarter)
One week section with emphasis on the biosynthesis, distribution, biology and application of plant specialized metabolites.
PBI298 - Plant Natural Product Metabolism (Graduate, Spring Quarter)
Plants are nature’s master chemists! This course offers students the opportunity to understand and evaluate for themselves the basis and impact of this claim. We will explore the biochemical logic that defines the natural variation of plant metabolism, and discuss modern tools used for its investigation and biotechnological application. Students will gain insight into the biosynthesis of plant natural products, their biological functions in plant-environment interactions, and their diverse human applications. Special emphasis will be given to plant metabolic pathways that impact agriculture, medicine and nutrition, as well as sustainability in the manufacture of bioproducts in plant and microbial host systems. Drawing on the fundamental knowledge of plant metabolism gained in the first part of the course, we will discuss current analytical, metabolic and plant engineering approaches, as well as ethical and intellectual property aspects associated with biotechnology applications. Students will actively apply the learned material through biweekly group discussions and the preparation of a ‘white paper’ where they propose a research project of their own design that relates to the topics discussed in class.
FRS004 - CURE: Biotechnology at the intersection of plants, chemistry and biomanufacture – Get plants to make something cool. (First-Year, not currently offered)
Plants are nature’s master chemists! They produce hundreds of thousands of bioactive chemicals, many of which we use as medicines, flavors, fragrances and other bioproducts. In this hands-on, Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE), you can engineer plants to characterize proteins of interest to the Zerbe Lab and make your own bioproducts. We will be investigating proteins from medicinal plants and crops that have potential uses in one of the following areas: medical drug development, or sustainable agriculture. We will follow the Zerbe Lab’s workflow, which starts with a novel gene, integrates it into bacteria and is subsequently transferred to tobacco plants, in which our protein of interest in produced. The chemical produced by this protein can then be extracted from the plant and analyzed using an approach, called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). This workflow is increasingly used in research and major biotech companies and is being adopted worldwide as a means of producing specific proteins or chemicals. We need your hands and minds to test and characterize proteins of interest to the Zerbe Lab! If you’ve never held a pipette before and/or if you are wondering if biological research is for you, that is okay. We are looking for students of all skill levels. Faculty and staff provide students with academic and technical instruction, and encouragement.
FRS004 - Project Link Seminar (First-Year Seminar, please inquire)
Project Link is a cross-cultural program that partners students with an international ‘academic pen-pal’. Students in this class will be connected with their international ‘academic pen-pal’ via video-chats/logs. Students will interact with their partner learn about each other’s culture, academic background, and communities. Students and their partners will complete a project proposal and present it to fellow members of the seminar. We believe this effort will foster a mindset of culture-sharing, academic diversity, and global communication - skills we need today to face the problems of tomorrow. Project Link is a seminar that has both in-class and online components. Students are expected to complete question sets and reflections with an online partner and in-class partner. This seminar hopes to establish new partnerships and collaborations between students striving to solve global and local issues in their communities. Each student will use what they learned throughout the program to create a proposal geared towards finding a solution to a problem in their community. This seminar’s structure is subject to change.