The innovation engine for new materials

Greg Schiller


Ramon Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts

Grade Level: 

High School

Teaching Position: 

AP Bio, AP Psych, Anatomy and Physiology, Biology


Susan Mazer




Susan Mazer

Research Project Year: 


Research Project Title: 

Evolution and Fitness in Nemophila Menziesii

Research Project Description: 

I worked in Dr Susan Mazer's Greenhouse, Alpine room, and Botany Lab in her NSF funded research on adaptation of plants (specifically Nemophila menziessi) to changing environments and intensifying droughts. I worked with amazing undergrad students and lab managers and Dr. Mazer on four different populations of Nemophila from Angelo Coast, Bodega Bay, Blue Oak, and Hastings Ranch. The plants' seeds had been collected (as well as some of the plants themselves) and already been cultivated and raised into mature flowering adults. In the greenhouse we worked on several cohorts of plants - emasculating them, pollinating them, collecting fruit sets, collecting data, opening up fruits to do seed counts, taking the mass of seeds and skeletal remains of plants and more. Additionally I worked with the students & professor to attempt to mediate several pests in the greenhouse-- including aphids and several species of fungi. I entered the collected data into an excel file that was then utilized in JMP to analyze the data and create graphs and tables that were later utilized in my presentation and in my project. What we determined is that there is variation in fruit set (that is pollinated flowers that become fruiting bodies that contain developing seeds) from the four different populations -- even though they were all grown under similar controlled environments in the greenhouse. These differences in fruit set production therefore must be genetic in origin. We also performed an experiment (which I was a part of) where we examined three different conditions of the plants -- 1) emasculated flowers that not hand pollinated, 2) fully intact flowers that were not hand pollinated, and 3) emasculated flowers that were hand pollinated. It was expected that there would be a difference in their fruit sets -- and YES! we found it to be true that the emasculated not hand pollinated had the lowest fruit set (# fruits / # pollinations of that plant), the intact not hand pollinated plants had the 2nd lowest fruit set, and the emasculated, hand pollinated flowers had the highest fruit set (closest to 1). Ongoing work on whether or not fruit set contributes to fitness in the wild of these four populations has yet to be determined and whether fruit set is correlated to number of seeds produced and whether fruit set and seed survivability in the wild are correlated has yet to be determined. 

Curriculum Project Year: 


Curriculum Project Title: 

Think Global, Act Local

Curriculum Project Description: 

This is a high school lesson on the micro-effects of global warming in localized environments. It is a comparison analysis of various cities and their attempts to reduce heat islands and create sustainable or unsustainable environments for their residents. It examines the effect of the pandemic on global warming and asks students to engineer solutions for their local environments to reduce their CO2 emissions and do their part to bring down CO2 levels in their microclimate environment. It uses Next Generation Science Standards for a Biology in the Earth System course. It covers the biogeochemical model of carbon in the atmosphere as well as the effect of carbon to increase heat effects in localized areas. Students will use Govees to do an in-depth analysis of their local environment; use iNaturalist app on their phone to identify plants that reduce localized heat effects; examine the varying albedos of different colors of paints used externally on homes, and examine the effects of earlier heating and warming trends on plant flowering.  FOR CURRICULUM RESOURCES PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE.

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