UConn’s PostDoc Seed Award Winners 2022

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

Raquel Fleskes, from Anthropology, has been funded for the following project:

This pilot research project seeks to develop a new method to extract ancient DNA from clay tobacco pipestems from colonial archaeological sites in Connecticut. Pipestems are common artifacts in colonial period archaeological sites, and preserve the DNA of people who smoked from them. This project will use eight pipestems, with each divided into equal thirds, to test three different DNA extraction methods at UConn’s Ancient DNA Laboratory. The concentration and complexity (number of different DNA sequences) will be assessed to determine the most effective method of DNA extraction. This project provides a new method in DNA extraction from archaeological artifacts.

Jessie Turner, from Marine Sciences, has been funded for the following project:

What color is the ocean? Using satellites to measure the color of the ocean tells us about the productivity of phytoplankton, the base of the entire ocean food chain. To use data from satellites, we need extensive ground-truth measurements of ocean color at Earth’s surface. However, the sensors used to ground-truth ocean color satellites are expensive and difficult to build. I plan to build a set of do-it-yourself sensors to measure ocean color at low cost. I will also create instructional materials for adaptation into a course for students interested in building sensors for their research.

Deborah Good, from Physics, has been funded for the following project:

I am an expert in timing millisecond pulsars – modeling the dynamics of rapidly-spinning, small, dense leftovers from supernova explosions – to detect gravitational waves from supermassive black holes. When timing pulsars, we model and remove the effects of the interstellar medium (ISM), especially ionized gas between the pulsar and the observer. Though “trash” in the search for gravitational waves, these gas models can be “treasure” for ISM scientists. I propose to lead a task force to improve our models and bring together pulsar timers, ISM scientists, and experts in mathematical modeling, maximizing our scientific output for ISM science and pulsar timing.

Kristel Schoonderwoerd, from Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, has been funded for the following project:

A single tree can bear leaves with widely varying shapes and functions. Smaller and thicker leaves that photosynthesize rapidly occur in parts of the crown that receive ample sunlight. On shaded branches, larger, thinner leaves are borne that photosynthesize comparatively slowly. Little is known about when during development these genetically identical leaf types diverge. This project seeks to understand how leaf development of sun and shade leaves aligns with seasonal changes in light availability within deciduous canopies, from leaf loss in the fall through new leaf expansion in spring.