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2020 Fellowship Awardees and Honorable Mentions


Congratulations to this year’s Fellows and Honorable Mentions! 


Every year, GWIS National Fellowship Program recognizes women who are performing hypothesis driven research in STEM and Social Science fields, and who have shown an outstanding ability for promising careers. We are excited to announce seven recipients of our 2020 fellowship awards along with 13 Honorable Mentions!


Rachel Scarlett - Adele Lewis Grant Fellowship, Nell Mondy/Eloise Gerry Fellowships $10,000






Participation in the Urban Riverscape: An Exploration of the Role of Rivers’ Rhythms

Rachel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Ecological Sciences and Engineering Interdisciplinary Program at Purdue University. Her research examines if and how ecological processes in urban rivers trigger sociopolitical participation in water management. The effects of urban flooding and water pollution disproportionately impact socially and economically marginalized communities, and such differential environmental experiences can inform how people choose to participate in water management. Her dissertation explores the ways in which accessibility to and quality of urban rivers facilitate or inhibit an individual’s participation in river conservation practices. Rachel will use the GWIS fellowship to develop and administer a community opinion survey that will elucidate the relationship between these social and ecological processes. 


Emily Dawson - Hartley Corporation Fellowship, Nell Mondy/Hartley Corporation Fellowships $7,255.35



A Global Taste: Foodways and Identity in Colonial New Mexico

Emmy is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research investigates the relationship between food and identity in 17th, 18th, and 19th-century colonial New Mexico. Specifically, she focuses on analyzing plant remains from three Spanish colonial households to see how plant use has changed over time. Emmy’s analysis of these plant remains will increase understanding of the range of wild and domesticated plants Spanish colonists used, as well as providing insights into the development of new identities in colonial spaces. She will use the GWIS fellowship for lab analysis of phytoliths, starch grains, and macrobotanical samples. 


Camilla Penney - Nell Mondy/Vessa Notchev Fellowships $9,200



From Temblors to Tibet: Reconciling observations of continental deformation across geological timescales

Camilla is a Junior Research Fellow in Earth Sciences at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge, UK. She investigates how the Earth’s continents move and change shape; from individual earthquakes, to the growth and collapse of mountain ranges. By studying both the movements of the Earth and the forces driving these movements, she is able to place constraints on the material properties (rheology) of the rocks which make up the continents. However, inferences of this rheology from measurements made at different timescales are seemingly contradictory. For example, in earthquakes, rocks vibrate elastically, but over millions of years the movements mountain ranges can look much more like a fluid. Camilla will use her GWIS fellowship to investigate how we can reconcile these different inferences and form a consistent picture of rock rheology in the Earth’s continents. The results of this project will form the basis for understanding how the properties of rocks control the locations and characteristics of earthquakes.


Mariel Price - Nell Mondy/Monique Braude Fellowships  $6,750



Light-driven Post Polymerization Modification of Plastic Waste

Mariel is a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the use of light as a source of energy for initiating chemical reactions. Specifically, Mariel works on the design and development of photoredox catalysts which use the energy of light to mediate electron transfers in chemical reactions. Mariel will use the GWIS fellowship to apply her expertise in photoredox catalysis toward the development of new techniques for light-driven functionalization of alkanes and commodity plastics. Her research goals are to develop this technology on small molecule substrates and translate it to macromolecular systems such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics. Overall, her research aims to uncover energy efficient and mild methods for transforming plastics composed of PE and PP polymers into higher-value materials. The transformation of PE and PP into higher-value materials creates economic incentive for recovering and recycling these plastics and would, ideally, help decrease their flow into landfills and the environment.


Yingtong Wu - Nell Mondy/Jean Langenheim Fellowships $6,750




Selection Vs. Gene Flow: The Maintenance of an Endangered Species, Maple-leaf Oak

Yingtong "Amanda" Wu is a PhD student in the Biology Department of the University of Missouri - St. Louis. She studies gene flow and the maintenance of species boundaries in hybridizing wooden species. Specifically, she studies the species boundaries of a rare and endemic oak species, Maple-leaf Oak (Quercus acerifolia) in the Ozarks. With the GWIS fellowship, she will use the genomic techniques to investigate the maintenance of species boundaries despite the risks of gene flow, and combine genomic and morphological evidence to understand the nature of species. This study will not only help decision makers to evaluate this endemic species, but will also advance our understanding of the maintenance of rare species in the wild. 


Gloriia Novikova - Nell Mondy/Hollinshead Fellowships $5,000



Using integrative functional genomics approaches to identify and target myeloid gene regulatory networks that modulate Alzheimer's disease risk

Gloriia is a PhD candidate at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where her research focuses on applying integrative statistical methods to genomics data to study the role of the innate immune system in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This work will provide valuable insights into systems-level changes to myeloid networks in AD and can lead to identification of viable therapeutic targets for further validation in human cells, mouse models and clinical trials. Gloriia will use the GWIS award to support her work on reconstruction of myeloid single-cell networks, identification of pathogenic hubs and their regulators as well as potential therapeutics that can drive these regulators to modulate the network toward a protective state.    


Veronica Iriart - Nell Mondy/Elizabeth Weisburger Fellowships $5,000



The Fate of Plant Mutualisms under Anthropogenic Stress

Veronica is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. She will study how human-mediated (anthropogenic) stressors impact plant mutualisms with pollinators and nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia. Her specific research question asks whether the genetic background of plants, rhizobia, or their combination influence the outcomes of plant-pollinator and plant-rhizobia interactions when plants are exposed to herbicide drift, i.e. when herbicides contact nontarget communities. This investigation will address a major challenge of the century: determining whether ecologically important mutualisms have the potential to evolve ways to mitigate the effects of modern, novel stressors. Veronica will use the GWIS National Fellowship for purchasing research supplies, renting vehicles for transit, and acquiring field station and greenhouse space to conduct her proposed experiments.


Honorable Mentions, Graduate Students

  • Eileen Troconis Gonzalez, Cornell University, “Dorsal raphe serotonin activity during female sexual behavior.” 
  • Emily Slesinger, Rutgers University, “Regional intraspecific differences in black sea bass reproduction and energetics throughout the spawning season.” 
  • Heather Raimer, University of Virginia, “Consequences of the G4C2 Expansion in c9orf72-Driven Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Dementia.” 
  • Lorianne Shultz, University of Central Florida, “Development of Sustainable Materials for Catalytic Degradation of Water Pollutants.” 
  • Maria Luisa de Melo Tupinamba Jabbur, Vanderbilt University, “Bacteria also prepare for winter: molecular bases of photoperiodism in cyanobacteria.” 
  • Melissa Torquato, Purdue University, “Why Do We Farm? An Assessment of Climate Change and Foraging Risk during the Foraging-Farming Transition in North America.” 
  • Michaela Gold, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Determining mechanism by which mucin and mucin glycans reduce Klebsiella pneumoniae attachment.” 
  • Nicole Wenzell, University of California, San Francisco, “Defining Sec61 client sensitivity using substrate-selective Sec61 modulators.”
  • Rakeysha Pinkston, Southern University and A&M College, “The role of MMP-12 and IL-17 signaling following JUUL and e-cig aerosol exposures and asthmatic responses in vitro.”


Honorable Mentions, Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Gaia Stucky de Quay, University of Texas at Austin, “Spatio-temporal planetary landscape evolution:constraints from Santo Antao Island, Cape Verde.” 
  • Lila Wollman, University of Arizona, “The role of cotinine in the altered central respiratory control associated with developmental nicotine exposure.” 
  • Mingzi Xu, University of Minnesota, “Variation and genomic basis of choosiness in the rapid speciation of the Hawaiian cricket Laupala cerasina.” 
  • Ornella Bertrand, University of Edinburgh, “Impact of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event on the brain and neurosensory system of mammals.” 


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