Fiscal Year 1995 Awards

Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

Fellow's Name Host Institution Research Area/Training Plan NSF Award #
Title of Research and Training Plan

Alice Hempel University of Georgia Population Biology 9510824
"Molecular and ecological studies of natural hybridization in edaphic endemics"
The research and training plan is directed at understanding the effects of natural hybridization on plant species under strong selective factors such as soil type. Hybridization between the narrowly distributed endemic Acacia schotti and the more widespread Acacia neovernicosa is the system under study. Work continues to develop molecular markers to measure introgression. To date, all populations located contain hybrids, which complicates the identification of the needed unique molecular markers.

Dewey C. Royal Rutgers University Developmental Neurobiology 9510832
"Identification of mutations that suppress mec-4(d)-induced cell death in C. elegans"
The research and training plan is directed at understanding cell death in the model organism, C. elegans. Suppressor mutations have been identified in a family of genes, the degenerans, which induce necrotic-like death of specific neurons. The degenerans are involved in the process of mechanosensory ion channel fuction. The mec-4(d) mutant represents one of these genes and results in the death of 6 touch-receptor neurons. Third year funding will permit the Fellow to genetically characterize the isolated suppressor mutants at the molecular level.

Carla Restrepo Stanford University Landscape Ecology 9510829
"Seed dispersal across boundaries: a landscape approach"
The research and training plan is directed at understanding the effects of landslides on plant succession and changes in plant diversity in tropical and subtropical mountain ecosystems. Field observations and modeling are used to understand the dynamics of plant communities during landslides.

Francis Villablanca University of Hawaii Conservation Genetics & Evolutionary Biology 9510822
"Conservation genetics and evolutionary history of endangered black-footed ferrets"
DNA sequencing methods will be applied to three independent loci in order to resolve germane conservation issues with satisfactory confidence. The three loci evolve under different processes and will shed light on different aspects of conservation genetics.

Marilyn Thompson Vanderbilt University Cellular Biology 9510815
"Cell cycle dependent expression of the catalytic subunit of ribonucleotide reductase"
The overall goal of this research is to understand the mechanism of regulation of M2 expression under conditions which regulate cellular proliferation. To clone and sequence the 5' flanking region of the human M2 gene, to determine which sequences in this region are necessary for the cell cycle expression of M2, and to determine if there are changes in protein binding to the regulatory elements in this region during different phases of the cell cycle are all objectives. These studies will provide important insight into understanding the transcriptional regulation of DNA synthesis and cell cycle control.

Avery August Rockerfeller University Cell Growth & Differentiation 9510841
"Mechanism of activation and specificity of receptor tyrosine phosphatases"
The mechanism of activation or inactivation of receptor tyrosine phosphatases and their specificity will be investigated. This information will establish a model of receptor tyrosine phosphatase activation and specificity, which will advance the knowledge on how these receptors control cell growth.

Adan Colon-Carmona Salk Institute for Biological Studies Cell Biology 9510821
"Control of cell division during lateral root formation"
The research and training plan is directed at understanding the control of cell proliferation in Arabidopsis by studying the CDK-cyclin complex, a checkpoint for control. It is hypothesized that the mechanism that regulates cyclin abundance controls cell division rates and growth. Studies center on the cis-elements in the promoter of cyc1a that mediate trascriptional activation in meristems and during G2 M-phases of the cell cycle.

Camilo Canel University of Leiden Cellular Biology 9510820
"Metabolic engineering of alkaloid production by bioreactor-cultured plant cells"
Cell suspension cultures are amenable systems for the characterization of plant secondary metabolism, and potential industrial sources of widely useful secondary metabolites. Genetically stable transgenic cell lines that express the introduced genes will be selected, using Southern and Northern hybridization and PCR. The effect of feeding terpenoid precursors, of aeration, and of induction by fungal elicitors on productivity will be studied. It is expected that stable transgenic cell lines with high enzymatic activity and, possibly, increased alkaloid production will be obtained. Such cell lines will facilitate the further characterization of the biosynthetic pathway leading to terpenoid indole alkaloids.

Paul Turner University of Maryland Evolutionary Biology 9510816
"Epistasis and the evolution of sex in RNA viruses"
The goal of the proposed research is to determine whether negative epistasis exists in a group of RNA viruses known to carry mutations of deleterious effect. If so, the study will shed light on the evolution and advantage of sex in these microparasites. Furthermore, the existence of negative epistasis will provide the first empirical test of the deterministic mutation hypothesis.

Angel Paredes Baylor College of Medicine Cellular Biology 9406849
"High resolution structural analysis of the prototype sindbis virus"
The primary aim of this research is to study the structure of a membrane containing virus using Sindbis virus as the prototype. This will be accomplished through electron cryomicroscopy and three-dimensional reconstruction. Because this virus is enveloped, it affords the opportunity to study its membrane proteins, and their interactions with each other and the core proteins. The ultimate goal of the research is to better understand the biology of the Sindbis virus by improving the resolution of 3D reconstructions of Sindbis virus, detecting structural transitions of Sindbis at different functional states, and comparing the structures of wild-type and mutant viruses to understand the basis of infectivity.


Minority Graduate Student Travel Award

William Carr University Uppsala, Sweden Cell Biology 9531476

Kelly Zamudio

University of California, Berkely

University of Victoria, B.C., Canada

Population Biology 9522632