UConn’s PostDoc Seed Award Winners 2021

The Graduate School is delighted to announce this year’s Postdoc Seed Award Recipients.

Dr. Maria Rodgers, from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has been funded for the following project:

“I am isolating and examining various immune cells from a small fish species called the threespine stickleback. While I recently completed a project that determined what types of cells are present in various tissues of this fish species, still lacking in the field is knowledge of how specific cells are different between populations. For example, a specific cell type in one population might highly express gene x, but those same cells in another population do not express gene x. The more that we understand these nuances, the more we can 1. Understand evolutionary processes, and 2. Use cells as treatments/therapies.”

Dr. Matthew Sasaki, from Marine Sciences, has been funded for the following project:

“Climate change is causing an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events. As we saw during the recent heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, these events can be fatal for animals, which in turn has detrimental effects on ecosystem health and human activities. To better understand how extreme heat events may affect recreational and commercial fisheries around Connecticut, I am proposing to measure lethal thermal limits (the highest temperature an individual can survive) for copepods. These are abundant crustaceans that are an important source of food for many fish species.”

Dr. Heather A Kittredge, from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has been funded for the following project:

“Evolution is often a slow process, but it can happen incredibly fast. Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is one mechanism of evolution that is increasingly thought to drive rapid adaptation. HGT allows microbes to steal DNA from neighboring cells, making it a powerful evolutionary force. However, acquiring foreign DNA can also be lethal if it disrupts finely tuned cellular processes. Despite potential risks, computational models indicate that high rates of HGT facilitate microbial invasion. Here, I apply experimental evolution and genetics to understand if HGT helps microbes invade extreme environments, revolutionizing the contemporary idea that evolution is too slow to alter ecological processes like invasion success.”