Mentor & Lab: Viridiana Castro – Pittermann Lab

Positions: 1-2 interns

Tentative dates: Spring – Summer 2024

Project Location: Lab on Coastal Campus and UCSC Center of Agroecology (main campus)

Project Background: Rising temperatures and variable precipitation will challenge crop production around the world. Answering this challenge, dry-farming presents growers with the opportunity to produce crops under hot and dry conditions using dry-farming, a practice that demands minimal irrigation and grower input. This research on dry-farm tomato physiology will address the following questions: 1. How do dry-farm plants use water over the course of the season, and over the course of a day? 2. Do plants become more drought-tolerant as the season progresses? 3. What are the physiological and structural costs of different water-use strategies and potential shifts in drought tolerance?

Intern duties: Interns will perform a variety of fieldwork, lab work, and data analysis. For field work, students will work on all aspects of data collection at the UCSC farms. This will include carrying around heavy/awkward equipment to take physiological measurements, such as water potentials, stomatal conductance, and photosynthesis. In the lab, students will assist with microscopy, which involves analyzing images of cellular attributes. For this, students will be trained to use Image J to take measurements such as vessel diameter. Finally, interns will be involved in data management and possibly data analysis in R, a programming language for statistical analysis.

Intern qualifications: In the field, must be comfortable with working outside, under hot and sunny conditions. In the lab, should be knowledgeable with using a microscope.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?
Yes, I would recommend to volunteer in the lab in the Spring quarter

UC Santa Cruz Land Acknowledgement

The land from which we base our work is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.