Northrop Frye Summer Research Experience Scholarship in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Northrop Frye

First awarded in 2001, the Northrop Frye Summer Research Experience Scholarship in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology enables an outstanding student who has recently completed BIO120H to spend four months (May to August) in the laboratory of a faculty member. This year the faculty advisor is Professor Barrett. See below for project description. 

Scholarship value: $5,700 for four months (May to August)

Application & Eligibility 

Application deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Monday February 26, 2018
Application form

To apply you must (1) have completed BIO120H (St. George campus) (note that priority will be given to students who completed BIO120 in the Fall 2017 session), and (2) obtain an average of at least 85% in the university courses you are presently taking or have taken (e.g., if you are taking five courses this year, you estimate that your average among these courses will be at least 85%).

  • In the application you will be asked to provide a statement, not to exceed 500 words in length, telling us about yourself (such as academic interests, extracurricular activities, hobbies, career aspirations) and discussing what you hope to gain from this research experience.
  • In order to be considered, your application must be e-mailed to Laura Heslin Piper ( by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, February 26, with “Northrop Frye Award” in the subject line.
  • Short-listed applicants will be contacted in late March or early April (via e-mail) for an interview.
  • For further information contact: Laura Heslin Piper ( with “Northrop Frye Award” in the subject line. 

Project Description

Evolution, Ecology and Genetics of Plant Reproductive Systems

Professor Spencer Barrett

Reproductive systems govern genetic transmission, population genetic structure, response to natural selection, and the evolutionary dynamics of populations. Understanding why some species change sexual systems is a central problem in evolutionary biology. We are using flowering plants as model organisms to investigate evolutionary transitions from outcrossing to selfing, hermaphroditism to unisexuality, and animal pollination to wind pollination. We also work on sex ratios and sex chromosome evolution in plants with separate sexes to understand their evolution and why Y-chromosomes degenerate and the genomics of heterostyly, a polymorphism first studied by Charles Darwin. The successful student will be involved with projects on these topics depending on their interest will assist this could involve field studies, lab work in genetic and genomics, and glasshouse studies on life history traits and reproductive traits We will train students in various approaches and no prior experience is needed.