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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Alumni & Development

BioNews: Winter 2013-14

Students receive NSF fellowships

Eight students with ties to the Department of Biology were selected by the National Science Foundation to receive awards through its prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) in 2013. Individuals selected for the GRFP Fellowships demonstrate the potential for significant achievements in their fields. They also help strengthen the vitality and diversity of scientific and engineering research in the United States. Past GRFP recipients have included numerous Nobel Prize winners, including Nobel Laureate and former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Google co-founder Sergey Brin; and economist Steven Levitt, known for his best-seller Freakonomics.

Each 2013 recipient is supported for three years, earning an annual $30,000 stipend, along with a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees. The 2013 recipients connected to our department include:

Jeffrey Adrion

Jeffrey Adrion. Photo: Jennifer Tarter/IU Department of Biology

Jamie Kostyun

Jamie Kostyun. Photo: Courtesy of Moyle Lab/IU Department of Biology

Jeffrey Adrion, who works with Distinguished Professor Mike Wade and Associate Professor Armin Moczek. Adrion’s research interests include investigating mitochondrial-nuclear co-evolution using experimental methods and theoretical models. He earned his undergraduate degree in zoology from North Carolina State University, and chose IU for graduate school because he liked the department’s collaborate nature, saying, “I liked being able to have the freedom to explore open questions in areas of research that overlapped with the interests of multiple investigators.”

Allison Bailey

Allison Bailey. Photo: Jennifer Tarter/IU Department of Biology

Freddy Lee

Freddy Lee. Photo: Jennifer Tarter/IU Department of Biology

Allison Bailey, who works with Professor Greg Demas. Bailey’s research explores how environmental conditions influence reproductive function in animals and investigates how animals use environmental cues to successfully reproduce. As an undergraduate at Cornell University, she majored in animal science and biological sciences.

Jamie Kostyun, who works with Associate Professor Leonie Moyle. Kostyun is interested in two of the most fundamental evolutionary processes, adaptation and speciation, and how they generate and maintain biological diversity, examining the underlying genetic and developmental mechanisms of floral evolution. She came to IU from Amherst College, where she majored in biology and anthropology. “After visiting Bloomington, I was convinced that this is the right place for me personally and professionally. I really like the feel of Bloomington itself, the strong Biology faculty and generally outstanding quality of work, and the cooperative and supportive atmosphere,” Kostyun said. 

Fredrick Lee, who works with Assistant Professor Irene Newton. He is interested in understanding the fundamental roles that bacteria play in the microbiome of the European honey bee. Lee, a graduate of Central Michigan University who majored in biomedical science, was attracted to the department by its large number of intriguing and diverse research laboratories and the collaborative research environment here. He also likes the range of social events, entertainment, and unique outdoor experiences available to Bloomington residents. 

Four departmental alumni were also selected to receive GRFP Fellowships last year. They are:

Kris Blair

Kris Blair (above) says his wife, fellow IU Biology alum Claire Gonzalez, received an NSF-GRFP award in 2011. Photo: Courtesy of Kris Blair

Kimberly Long

Kimberly Long was inspired by her IU mentor, Greg Demas, to become a research scientist. Photo: Courtesy of Kimberly Long

Kris Blair, who earned his B.S. in Microbiology from us in 1998. He returned to IU in 2003 to work as a research associate for Professor Clay Fuqua and, in 2005, began working for Associate Professor Dan Kearns. Blair credits his work with these two mentors for his decision to pursue his Ph.D. His first opportunity to conduct research was in Professor Yves Brun’s lab through the L490 Independent Research course. Blair now is a graduate student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program (MCB) at the University of Washington, working in Nina Salama’s lab, which is part of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute. He is interested in elucidating the structure-function relationships of proteins that are involved in regulating cell shape in the helical-shaped bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Blair notes that his wife, M. Claire Gonzalez, who is a graduate of our department, earned a GRFP Fellowship in 2011. She too is a graduate student in Washington’s MCB Program.

Last year, Kimberly Long graduated from IU with a B.S. in Biology, with Departmental Honors and Highest Distinction; a B.A. in French; and a minor in chemistry. Long did undergraduate research in Associate Professor Greg Demas’s lab using the Siberian hamster as her research model. She says that his guidance and mentorship inspired her to become a research scientist. Long entered the doctoral program in neuroscience at the University of California-Berkeley, where she is a member of Daniela Kaufer’s research team. Her work focuses on stress and its effects on learning and memory.

Ashley Troth

Ashley Troth says the volunteer work she did in the Bloomington community helped her receive the NSF-GRFP award. Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Troth

Ashley Troth earned her B.S. in Biology, with Departmental Honors, from IU in 2011. Troth is now enrolled in a biology graduate program at Duke University, where she is working with John H. Willis, studying flower development in an herb called purple mouse ears, which produces radically different flower types based on environmental conditions. Troth wrote, “In many ways, this research has grown out of the thoughtful mentorship I received while at IU under Drs. Armin Moczek and Emilie Snell-Rood, as well as members of the Ketterson lab. Without all of these people, and their time and energy that was so willingly spent on answering and asking questions, my undergraduate education would have been far less fruitful.” While at IU, Troth participated in the Advocate for Community Engagement Program, working at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a local food bank. She adds, “I really valued my time as an ACE, and the people at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard were as important mentors as were those in Biology. I firmly believe that the work I did there over three and a half years helped me get the GRF, which is notoriously focused on broader impacts.”

Joe Welkin

Joe Welklin was visited by a male Orchard Oriole in a southern Louisiana marsh last summer. Photo: Courtesy of Joseph Welklin

Joseph Welklin earned a B.S. in Biology, with Departmental Honors and Distinction, and a Certificate in Animal Behavior from the department last year. He was a member of Distinguished Professor Ellen Ketterson’s lab, working on the dark-eyed junco project, and continued to work for her as a research associate after graduation. Welklin spent last summer studying seaside sparrows in Louisiana marshes, looking at the effect of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill on these birds. In the fall, he began work with Mike Webster in the Neurobiology and Behavior Department at Cornell, studying the behavior of songbirds. Welklin also traveled to Brisbane, Australia, this winter where he studied bird species. Welklin says that his undergraduate experience was essential in preparing him for graduate school. The classes built the foundation, but he says that the best part of his undergraduate education was being able to conduct his own independent research in the Ketterson lab through the Biology L490 program, which he called an amazing experience.

In addition to the eight individuals honored last year, six people with ties to the Department of Biology earned NSF-GRFP Fellowships in 2012. They received an annual $30,000 stipend, along with a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees. The 2012 recipients were:

Deidra Jacobsen-Castillo, who is an EEB graduate student here at IU working with Professor Lynda Delph. She studies how plants respond to different stressors, such as inbreeding, herbivory, or pollen limitation.

Nikki Rendon, an EEB graduate student in Professor Gregory Demas’ laboratory. Rendon studies novel mechanisms in aggression using Siberian hamsters, Phodopus sungorus, as her research model.

Mohammad “Mo” Siddiq earned a B.S. in Biology, with Distinction, from IU in 2012. He was a member of Assistant Professor Kristi Montooth’s lab, conducting genomic research using the fruit fly, Drosophila. Siddiq is now a doctoral student in the Ecology and Evolution Department at the University of Chicago. His research interests include the role and interplay of regulatory elements in the modification of phenotypes and how permissive/restrictive mutations alter evolutionary trajectories at different levels of biological organization. Siddiq is featured in the alum profile.

Beth Anne Reinke earned a B.A. with Distinction in 2012 through IU’s Individualized Major Program, majoring in Zoology, with minors in African Languages, Anthropology, and Biology. She also earned a Certificate in Animal Behavior. Her research studied the effects of pollution on turtle populations. Reinke joined Adjunct Professor P. David Polly’s research team and also learned some techniques in Professor Gregory Demas’s lab. She is a doctoral student at Dartmouth College, enrolled in its Evolution, Ecology & Behavior Program, where she is continuing her research with painted turtles.

Natalie Christian came to us in 2012 from Vanderbilt University with degrees in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and Spanish. She was a member of Patrick Abbot’s integrative biology lab researching Pemphigus aphids. Here at IU, she is a member of Distinguished Professor Keith Clay’s laboratory.

Daniel Schwab graduated from the College of William and Mary, earning a B.S. in Biology with Honors. He joined Associate Professor Armin Moczek’s team, where he studies the evolution of developmental plasticity.

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