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Fellowships Abstract Archive
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2015 Fellowships Awardees

Our fellowships winners are the soul of our organization and have impact across many different scientific fields. If you would like to apply for a fellowship yourself, find out more information here.

Adele Lewis Grant Fellowship

 

Annick Cross, Ph.D.

PhD Student

University of Hawaii Manoa

Coral reef connectivity in Palau: A population genetics approach to coral reef management in warming seas

 

While coral reefs cover only one tenth of one percent of the ocean’s floor, they have the planet’s most diverse variety of species with more than 25% of the world’s fish living there. However, these coral reefs have been badly degraded by human impacts and climate change over recent years and are now at a critical stage. In order to protect coral reefs and the species that depend on them, scientists and managers have been using Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as one of the main tools for conservation. Research has now shown that it is possible to build reef resilient MPA networks that allow damaged reef habitats to recover more quickly. The principle behind these networks is based on connectivity: reef areas that are less likely to be damaged by climate change or other disturbances can act as a source of larvae for areas that are more vulnerable. The biggest challenge is tracking or tagging larvae, which are small and can swim, making it difficult to obtain information on connectivity. This project uses new techniques in population genetics to gain a greater understanding of coral reefs and their recovery from damage and to design resilient Marine Protected Area networks. Genetic data can identify areas that export larvae or areas that are dependent on these larvae to survive. Such recommendations will allow managers to optimize the size and placement of MPAs in a network. The findings of this research will immediately and significantly contribute to the government of Palau’s efforts to protect their reefs. It will also be disseminated to other regions which are facing similar challenges.

 

Hartley Corp Fellowship and Eloise Gerry Fellowship

 

Rebecca Achey

MD/Ph.D. Student
Cleveland Clinic

The effect of music on subthalamic neuronal firing patterns and on intra-operative anxiety during awake deep brain stimulation surgery for Parkinson's Disease; a pilot study

 

Music is a well-established component of therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, neurologic music therapy, specifically rhythmic auditory stimulation, has proven effective in Parkinson’s disease (PD) for improving gait, postural control, and limb coordination. However, little is known about the direct impact of music on the deep brain structures implicated in PD. We are studying the effects of music on neuronal activity during deep brain stimulation (DBS) implantation surgery. In particular, we are analyzing how different musical styles (rhythmic, melodic, melorhythmic) uniquely modulate deep brain structures involved in movement regulation. Furthermore, we are examining how neuronal response to music during awake portions of intra-operative DBS procedures may relate to both intra-operative patient stress levels and long-term motor/non-motor symptom improvement in PD.

 

Eloise Gerry Fellowship

 

Coral Wheeler

Ph.D. Student

University of California Irvine

It’s the little things: ultra-faint satellites of isolated dwarf galaxies Co-adaptation & Restoration- Are microbiomes locally-adapted to Switchgrass ecotypes?


I am developing the most detailed and realistic model of the Milky Way yet, using an advanced hydrodynamic code (Gizmo) that implements the most realistic scheme available for converting gas into stars and capturing the energy fed back from those stars into the surrounding medium (Feedback In Realistic Environments; FIRE). The Milky Way model consists of an isolated, quasi- equilibrium Milky Way analog, with a disk, bulge, hot halo, and dark halo that are consistent with those observed for the Milky Way. By simulating the interactions between this idealized Milky Way and a model of Sagittarius that consists of a dark matter halo and a dispersion-supported stellar component in equilibrium, I am investigating the effect of the known Milky Way- Sagittarius collision on the morphology and star formation history of our Galaxy.

 

Vessa Notchev Fellowship

 

Kristina Smiley

Ph.D Student

Cornell University

Hormonal regulation of avian biparental care

 

Parental care is an important component of reproduction that is observed in a diverse range of animals and is especially common in birds. The neural and hormonal basis of avian parental care is not well understood, especially in the many birds where young are raised by both mothers and fathers working together. The hormone prolactin has a well-established role in maternal care in mammals, and so prolactin and its brain receptors are a promising candidate mechanism of parental care to investigate in birds. The goal of this research is to experimentally test for a causal role of prolactin in promoting the onset of parental behavior in a biparental songbird, the zebra finch. This research will provide new insight into the mechanisms of avian parental care, allowing the integration of this important group into the comparative framework that will provide the predictive power for understanding how these mechanisms may function and evolve in other animals, including humans.

 

Nell I Mondy Fellowship

 

Allison Shultz

Ph.D. Student

Harvard University
Genomic signatures of pathogen-mediated selection in diachronic populations of the House Finch

 

Human-mediated introductions of species into new environments are common today, whether they be accidental or intentional. It is important to understand the genetic effects these introductions have on the new populations as they adapt to their environment and face novel challenges, including diseases. A wild bird called the House Finch was introduced to the East Coast in 1940 and rapidly expanded to almost the entire region. In 1994, a species of bacteria, Mycoplamsa gallisepticum, historically associated with poultry, infected the House Finch and killed an estimated 225 million individuals (up to 60% in some populations). The proposed research seeks to study this species’ introduction and host-parasite interaction by using cutting-edge techniques to examine genetic variation across the House Finch genome. Data collected from wild populations around the US in multiple time periods will enable studies of how the House Finch has evolved in response to the disease in both introduced and natural populations. Finally, genes under selection in the wild populations will be examined in experimentally infected House Finches to confirm that they are associated with enhanced resistance and tolerance to the disease.

Nell I Mondy Fellowship

 

Julie Aleman

Post-doctoral Researcher

Yale University

Savannas in the southern Congo: climatic or human legacy?

 

My research is interdisciplinary and mainly focuses on understanding ecosystems dynamics and ecological processes at the landscape scale. I use paleoecology and historical ecology to study past responses of vegetation structure to disturbances (especially fire), human impacts and climate change., as well as a combination of remote sensing data and statistical modeling to study broad scale patterns of vegetation structure as a function of climate gradients, disturbance regimes and resource availability.My goal is to understand and to predict how ecosystems would respond to current global changes, and is particularly interested in understanding the drivers responsible for tree cover variations in tropical savannas, and for transitions between forest and savanna ecosystems.

 

Nell I Mondy Fellowship

 

Julie Fleischman

Ph.D. Student

Michigan State University

Remnants of Khmer Rouge Violence: Human Skeletal Remains and Memorialization

 

My current research interests include: forensic anthropology with a concentration on traumatic skeletal injuries resulting from genocide or human rights violations; the history of the Khmer Rouge regime and the Cambodian genocide; and the utility of analyzing human skeletal remains resulting from mass violence. The funds from the Nell Mondy Fellowship I was able to purchase a 3D MicroScribe Digitizer for my dissertation research. This piece of equipment allows me to collect digital 3D measurements of the human crania which I am analyzing in Cambodia. Not only does the digitizer speed up my data collection, it also will allow me to compare the metrics to other human populations and is the first time that 3D measurements have been recorded for a Cambodian skeletal sample.

 

Nell I Mondy Fellowship

 

Sze Ting (Cecilia) Kwan

Ph.D. Student

Cornell University

A Genome-Wide Survey of Placental Imprinted Genes in Response to Maternal Choline Supplementation

My research works focus on understanding how maternal diet during pregnancy can influence pregnancy outcomes and how it affects maternal health during the postpartum period as well as different aspects of fetal development both in the short-term and in the long-term. I hope that these findings will inform the development of effective intervention strategies, evidence-based clinical practice guideline and public health policies so that the health of both the mothers and their children will be improved.

 

Nell I Mondy Fellowship

 

Marie Yeung

Associate Professor

California Polytechnical Institute San Luis

Association and coordination of factors underpinning the survivability of viable but typically non-culturable cells of Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a marine bacterium naturally found in brackish water and seafood. However, consumption of sufficient number of pathogenic strains of V. parahaemolyticus may result in acute gastroenteritis and even death in susceptible individuals. Many outbreaks have occurred as a result of consumption of seafood containing high cell count of V. parahaemolyticus. Some outbreaks were associated with seafood harvested from approved areas, suggesting that the conventional detection methods lack sensitivity and specificity, and/or more virulent strains have emerged. Until recently, V. parahaemolyticus was found to exist in a unique physiological state characterized by its ability to stay “dormant” under suboptimal conditions. Viable cells in this state do not multiply in typical laboratory growth media, and hence, are considered viable but non-culturable (VBNC). It is important to characterize this physiological state to better understand its ramification in the safety of our food supply and human health. To this end, this project will develop a method to detect and quantify VBNC cells of V. parahaemolyticus, and to study expression of virulence and stress related genes in VBNC cells. The outcome of this study will help us understand the virulence of VBNC cells and to evaluate the safety of our food supply.Generally speaking, my research interests revolve around food safety and foodborne pathogens. Therefore, I have been working on the detection of food- and water-borne pathogens, as well as studying the pathogenesis of Vibiro parahaemolyticus and Listeria monocytogenes.

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