Past Recipients of the Graduate Student Fellowship

The Philomathia Graduate Fellowship in the Environmental Sciences provides fellowships for graduate students studying issues related to the environment at UC Berkeley. Students are nominated to receive the award on the basis of their high level of academic distinction and exceptional promise.

2017 - 2018 Recipients

Colin CarlsonColin Carlson
Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management
Ph.D. Candidate

Colin's research focuses on the relationship between climate change and two irreversible processes of global change: biodiversity loss and infectious disease emergence. His most significant work to date has been leading a study that estimated parasite extinction rates from climate change, a project for which he assembled the largest spatial database of macroparasite occurrences currently available to researchers worldwide. His other projects fall at various points on the gradient between conservation biology and public health, and have included the extinction status and history of high-profile species like the Carolina parakeet, Spix's macaw, and the thylacine; the impacts of climate change on host-parasite assemblages and the need for parasite conservation; and the eco-epidemiology of emerging diseases like anthrax, Ebola and Zika virus.


Kripa JagannathanKripa Jagannathan
Energy and Resources Group
Ph.D. Candidate

Kripa’s research focuses on climate change adaptation, specifically on creating knowledge that enables climate-resilient planning for the future. Successful adaptation to climate change requires solutions that are supported by robust projections of future climate and its impacts. But despite the advances in climate science, information about future trends is very rarely used in adaptation plans. Kripa’s goal is to critically analyze the reasons behind this limited use of climate science, and develop improved science-based knowledge for decision-makers such as farmers and water managers. Kripa combines the fields of climate science, climate impacts and adaptation, risk perception, decision-making under uncertainty, and climate change communication. She uses a mix of ethnographic qualitative methods to understand decision-makers’ climate information needs, and quantitative climate model evaluations and downscaling to develop usable climate information tools.


Erin JarvisErin Jarvis
Integrative Biology
Ph.D. candidate

Our world teems with a captivating diversity of life, but just how do these unique forms progress from a single cell to a specialized organism? Erin is using CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis in the amphipod crustacean model Parhyale hawaiensis to study the function of the Homeotic (Hox) genes--a set of highly conserved regulatory genes critically important to all animals, from a fruit fly to you--in specifying appendage type and neuromuscular integration during individual development in order to address larger questions on how changes in the patterning of these genes may have provided a mechanism of diversification over evolutionary time. She believes that by better understanding how to build distinct forms, we may garner a greater appreciation of life's diversity, and will be better equipped to tackle anthropogenically-induced loss of diversity, congenital defects, and the genome-editing revolution that is upon us.


Yuzhong LiuYuzhong Liu
Chemistry
Ph.D. Candidate

Covalent organic frameworks are a new class of crystalline materials that are made by linking organic building units through strong covalent bonds. Owing to the ability to precisely control the geometry and functionality of extended structures, Yuzhong designed and synthesized weaving materials that are resilient yet robust. By using the copper-bisphenanthroline templated approach, organic threads are woven into extended frameworks with atomic precision; these templates can be removed post-synthetically, leading to higher degrees of freedom in the structure while preserving the underlying connectivity. The dynamic nature and chemical stability of such materials allows for heavy metal sequestration from water and CO2 reduction upon incorporation of electrocatalysts such as cobalt-porphyrin.

 


Tim O'ConnorTim O'Connor
Integrative Biology
Ph.D. Candidate

Plants and plant-feeding insects account for half of all known species, and it is widely thought that interactions between them have driven each group’s tremendous diversification. However, much remains unknown about how plant-insect interactions can generate new species. Does speciation in plants lead to co-speciation in plant-feeding insects, and if so, how? Tim studies these questions in the hot deserts of North America using creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) and the specialized community of creosote-feeding insects as a model system. His work combines field surveys across arid lands of the US and Mexico, behavioral experiments, and genetic approaches to characterize the links between plant and insect speciation.


Grace WuGrace C. Wu
Energy and Resources Group
Ph.D. candidate

Grace studies the land system impacts of energy development. In geographies as diverse as California, India, and South Africa, energy systems are on the cusp or in the midst of major transitions from conventional to renewable technologies. How can these transitions be leveraged as opportunities for cost-effective, socially-responsibly, and sustainable energy development? By examining the extent and the location of trade-offs between habitat conservation and renewable resource extraction, Grace is identifying areas that yield climate and conservation win-win solutions. To realize these solutions, she has also demonstrated the value of better incorporating environmental impacts in the power plant siting and overall energy planning process for lower-impact development outcomes. Grace's findings reveal that it is not only possible, but cost-effective, to achieve climate and conservation goals in many of these transitioning regions.

 


2016-2017 Recipients

gabrielle boisrameGabrielle Boisrame
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ph.D candidate

Gabrielle's work addresses a unique experiment conducted in the Illilouette Creek Basin in Yosemite National Park where a natural fire regime has been allowed to establish since 1972 (fires are routinely suppressed in almost all other forests in California).  Gabrielle uses a combination of remote sensing data, field observations and ecohydrological modeling to characterize how fire has changed the vegetation structure and hydrology of the Illilouette Creek Basin. She hopes this work will support future land management decisions that include natural disturbances which increase the ecosystem's diversity and reduce sensitivity to drought. 

 

Christopher_Hann-SodenChristopher Hann-Soden
Plant and Microbial Biology
Ph.D candidate

What steers the evolution of fungi, and how do evolving fungi affect our environment? Christopher is tackling questions in evolutionary biology using the latest genomic tools to understand how our world is shaped by fungi. The flow of genes between or within a species can drastically affect its evolutionary trajectory, and Christopher is studying how changes in gene flow can change the course of evolution. Climate change is also altering the course of evolution, and Christopher is collaborating with climate modelers to understand how the decomposers of tomorrow will further alter Earth's climate. These questions are fundamental to understanding patterns of diversity across all life, as well as the impact evolution has on our environment.

 

Erin JarvisErin Jarvis
Integrative Biology
Ph.D. candidate

Our world teems with a captivating diversity of life, but just how do these unique forms progress from a single cell to a specialized organism? Erin is using CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis in the amphipod crustacean model Parhyale hawaiensis to study the function of the Homeotic (Hox) genes--a set of highly conserved regulatory genes critically important to all animals, from a fruit fly to you--in specifying appendage type and neuromuscular integration during individual development in order to address larger questions on how changes in the patterning of these genes may have provided a mechanism of diversification over evolutionary time. She believes that by better understanding how to build distinct forms, we may garner a greater appreciation of life's diversity, and will be better equipped to tackle anthropogenically-induced loss of diversity, congenital defects, and the genome-editing revolution that is upon us.    

 

Lydia VaughnLydia Vaughn
Energy Resources Group

Ph.D. candidate

Lydia’s research is rooted in two coupled questions: how does climate influence terrestrial ecosystems and how do terrestrial ecosystems influence climate? To investigate these questions, Lydia studies soil carbon turnover rates, decomposition processes, and their biogeochemical controls. Using isotopic methods in field experiments and across natural gradients, she has been studying ecosystem-climate feedbacks in Arctic Alaska with a cross-disciplinary team of field and lab scientists and modelers. By improving model representations of ecosystem processes, Lydia hopes her research will help predict and monitor changes to sensitive Arctic ecosystems.

 

Grace WuGrace C. Wu
Energy and Resources Group
Ph.D. candidate

Grace studies the land system impacts of energy development. In geographies as diverse as California, India, and South Africa, energy systems are on the cusp or in the midst of major transitions from conventional to renewable technologies. How can these transitions be leveraged as opportunities for cost-effective, socially-responsibly, and sustainable energy development? By examining the extent and the location of trade-offs between habitat conservation and renewable resource extraction, Grace is identifying areas that yield climate and conservation win-win solutions. To realize these solutions, she has also demonstrated the value of better incorporating environmental impacts in the power plant siting and overall energy planning process for lower-impact development outcomes. Grace's findings reveal that it is not only possible, but cost-effective, to achieve climate and conservation goals in many of these transitioning regions.

 

Micah_ZieglerMicah Ziegler
Chemistry
Ph.D. candidate

Micah studies inorganic chemistry with a focus on developing energy and environmentally-relevant catalysis.  He synthesizes transition metal complexes that aim to enable earth-abundant, inexpensive, and relatively safe first-row transition metals to activate small molecules, specifically carbon dioxide and methane. Broadly, this research could lead to more energy- and material-efficient reactions that produce fewer waste products, methods to better utilize natural gas, and technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 


2015-2016 Recipients

Gabrielle_BoisrameGabrielle Boisrame
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ph.D candidate

Gabrielle's work addresses a unique experiment conducted in the Illilouette Creek Basin in Yosemite National Park where a natural fire regime has been allowed to establish since 1972 (fires are routinely suppressed in almost all other forests in California).  Gabrielle uses a combination of remote sensing data, field observations and ecohydrological modeling to characterize how fire has changed the vegetation structure and hydrology of the Illilouette Creek Basin. She hopes this work will support future land management decisions that include natural disturbances which increase the ecosystem's diversity and reduce sensitivity to drought. 

 

Christopher_Hann-SodenChristopher Hann-Soden
Plant and Microbial Biology
Ph.D candidate

What steers the evolution of fungi, and how do evolving fungi affect our environment? Christopher is tackling questions in evolutionary biology using the latest genomic tools to understand how our world is shaped by fungi. The flow of genes between or within a species can drastically affect its evolutionary trajectory, and Christopher is studying how changes in gene flow can change the course of evolution. Climate change is also altering the course of evolution, and Christopher is collaborating with climate modelers to understand how the decomposers of tomorrow will further alter Earth's climate. These questions are fundamental to understanding patterns of diversity across all life, as well as the impact evolution has on our environment.

 

Matthew_LuskinMatthew Luskin
Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management

Ph.D. candidate

Matthew’s research uses empirical field studies in Indonesia to understand how rapid oil palm expansion in Southeast Asia threatens tropical rainforest wildlife communities. He takes a ecosystem-approach to understanding how predators, prey, trees, and people are affected. His results show that palm oil causes trophic cascades in the remaining forests. 

 

Daniel_PortikDaniel Portik
Integrative Biology

Ph.D. candidate

Dan’s research will test a series of hypotheses regarding the processes generating high species richness in the African tropics. How species-rich taxonomic assemblages are generated and maintained, especially in the tropics, is a subject of great interest to biodiversity researchers and Dan’s project has the potential to provide an outstanding contribution to this field.

 

Andrew_RomingerAndrew Rominger 
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and  Energy and Resource Management Group
Ph.D. candidate

Andy studies large scale patterns in the richness, relatedness and abundance of species to understand how evolutionary history shapes contemporary biodiversity and how biodiversity might change with mounting anthropogenic pressures.  There is a persistent scientific puzzle as to why disparate ecological assemblages show shockingly similar structures in terms of allocation of metabolic energy across individuals and individuals across species.  Andy seeks to understand the origin of such generalities and approaches this task with a combination of principles form information theory and statistical physics along with novel data gleaned from museum specimen records and arthropod communities evolving in the dynamic landscape of Hawaii. Andy hopes his work will provide a foundation for studying how global change might drive future shifts in ecological and evolutionary processes.

 

Micah_ZieglerMicah Ziegler
Chemistry
Ph.D. candidate

Micah studies inorganic chemistry with a focus on developing energy and environmentally-relevant catalysis.  He synthesizes transition metal complexes that aim to enable earth-abundant, inexpensive, and relatively safe first-row transition metals to activate small molecules, specifically carbon dioxide and methane. Broadly, this research could lead to more energy- and material-efficient reactions that produce fewer waste products, methods to better utilize natural gas, and technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 


2014-2015 Recipients

Kathryn_FiorellKathryn Fiorella
Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management
Ph.D candidate

Kathryn's research combines elements of public health, community ecology and socioeconomics to address critical issues surrounding the dynamics of environmental degradation and biodiversity loss in rural Kenya. Her approach combines extensive ecological surveys (primarily of Lake Victoria fisheries), household livelihoods surveys (500+ surveys to date) and public health assessments of child growth and cognitive development. These data sets are brought together to explore linkages and feedbacks between the health of ecosystems and the health and livelihoods of the communities who depend on them. 

 

Lauren_Hallett_copyLauren Hallett
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
Ph.D candidate

Lauren’s thesis research centers on the relationships between climate, biodiversity and ecosystem services in California rangelands. She uses long-term data analysis and field experiments to test how functional relationships between plant species may moderate the impacts of increased climate variability on rangeland services such as forage production. Lauren also applies her interest in integrating science with environmental management locally, and leads a team of undergraduate researchers to develop methods to improve restoration efforts along Strawberry Creek.

 

Jennifer Philomathia.Jennifer Hofmeister
Integrative Biology
Ph.D candidate

Jennifer's research interests focus on understanding the behavioral response of highly phenotypically plastic animals to ecosystem change. Octopuses play an important predatory role in almost every coastal environment, yet we know little about their behavioral response to changes in their environment. Understanding this concept could aid in issues surrounding biodiversity loss and fisheries management. Jennifer uses a combination of SCUBA surveys, ecological modeling, food web analysis, and behavioral experiments to understand how and why octopuses interact with varying components of their community, primarily on Catalina Island. She also dedicates much of her time to programs and conferences encouraging young women to stay in science, as well as training the next generation of scientific SCUBA divers.

 

Abigail_KnighAbby Knight
Chemistry
Ph.D candidate

Abby is working towards identifying materials for selective metal binding that can be applied to water remediation and the improvement of metal separation procedures.  As selective metal chelation is relatively unexplored area, she is using a combinatorial library approach to explore interactions that enhance affinity and selectivity. Abby is currently focusing on identifying chelators for hexavalent chromium, a prevalent toxin, but she is beginning to apply the developed procedures to other applications including trivalent lanthanide ion separations, currently caustic and inefficient processes.

 

Matthew_LuskinMatthew Luskin
Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management

Ph.D. candidate

Matthew’s research is focused on understanding how rapid oil palm expansion in Southeast Asia is threatening wildlife communities. He is conducting empirical field studies in Indonesia, utilizing a diversity of sociological and ecological research methods.  His research is elucidating the long-term follow on impacts of oil palm plantations on wildlife and human communities.

 

Ryan Melnyk Web Ryan Melnyk
Plant and Microbial Biology
Ph.D candidate

Ryan's research focuses on bacterial reduction of perchlorate, a toxic compound found in drinking water.  His work integrates comparative genomics, genetics, and biochemistry in an effort to uncover how this metabolism functions, how it is regulated, and how perchlorate reducers deal with the reactive intermediates that are produced.  A deeper understanding of these concepts may enable the design of more effective biological systems for perchlorate removal.

 

Daniel_Portik Daniel Portik
Integrative Biology

Ph.D. candidate

Dan’s research will test a series of hypotheses regarding the processes generating high species richness in the African tropics. How species-rich taxonomic assemblages are generated and maintained, especially in the tropics, is a subject of great interest to biodiversity researchers and Dan’s project has the potential to provide an outstanding contribution to this field.

 


2013-2014 Recipients

Apte_JoshJoshua Apte
Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin

Ph.D. awarded 2013

Joshua is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. His main area of expertise is human exposure to urban vehicle emissions. Joshua is looking at ambient air quality in New Delhi, which is one of the most severely polluted cities in the world. He is helping to advise the government on the science and policy aspects of improving air quality in India. 

 

Christianson, DanielleDanielle Christianson
Energy and Resources Gr
oup
Ph.D. candidate

Danielle studies microclimate: how vegetation responds to it; how it may occur in a warmer future; and how it scales up to climate represented at coarser spatial and temporal scales that are commonly used in models. She observes tree seedlings and measures the physical environment in Sequoia National Park to address these ecological questions. In addition, she works to improve awareness of science and the natural world through visualizations and is a member of the Berkeley Center for New Media.

 

ChristinaPoindexteCristina Poindexter
Postdoctoral Researcher, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Ph.D. awarded 2014

Since completing her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, Cristina has worked as postdoctoral fellow on the AmeriFlux management project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Cristina works to review and standardize carbon dioxide flux data from the AmeriFlux network so that these data can be used to answer questions about the global terrestrial carbon sink.

  *Lauren Hallett, Jennifer Hofmeister, Abby Knight, and Ryan Melnyk were also awarded Fellowships in 2013-2014. For their bios, please see 2014-2015 recipients.


2012-2013 Recipients

matzke_2120x155Nicholas Matzke
Postdoctoral Fellow, NIMBios, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Ph.D. awarded 2013

Nick is a postdoctoral fellow in mathematical biology at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has also been awarded the Australian Discovery Early Career Research Award to work with Craig Moritz at Australia National University in Canberra. He is developing a method to jointly estimate distribution models for a group of  related species, linking the large-scale processes studied by historical/phylogenetic biogeography with the fine-scale environmental niche models used in species distribution modeling.

 

Pakes, Joey Pakes
Integrative Biology

Ph.D. awarded 2013

Joey received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2013. Her research focused on dark, low-oxygen, anchialine caves, in which a marine layer rests beneath one or more isolated layers of brackish or freshwater. Most anchialine caves contain low invertebrate densities, yet some have inexplicably large biomass of shrimp and remipedes, a rare crustacean found only in subtropical anchialine caves. She integrated studies of geochemistry, microbiology, food web dynamics, and behavior to better understand whether chemosynthesis correlates with macrofaunal density and diversity as well as feeding behaviors in these extreme ecosystems.

 

Daniel RichterDaniel Richter
Postdoctoral Fellow, Station Biologique de Roscof, France

Ph.D. awarded 2013

Daniel’s Ph.D. research focused on choanoflagellates, a group of globally distributed marine and freshwater heterotrophic unicellular eukaryotes. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Station Biologique de Roscoff in France, where he has extended his research on choanoflagellates to include the breadth of unicellular eukaryotic diversity as part of the Tara Oceans Project. They have collected surface ocean samples from 150 globally distributed sites at two depths and multiple size fractions, spanning a range from viruses to the smallest animals.  Daniel is analyzing three types of sequence data to examine how species distributions and their global patterns of activity help define the ecology of the world’s oceans.

* Joshua Apte, Danielle Christianson, and Cristina Poindexter were also awarded Fellowships in 2013-2014. For their bios, please see the 2013-2014 recipients.


2011-2012 RECIPIENTS

AnantharamanManisha Anantharaman
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley
Ph.D. candidate

Manisha’s dissertation evaluates how middle class-led initiatives to promote sustainable waste management and transportation systems affect Bangalore’s poor and working classes. Using a participatory and community-based research approach, she looked at the conditions under which waste management and transportation systems can be made more environmentally sustainable, while also enhancing the livelihoods and experiences of Bangalore’s working poor. After she receives her Ph.D. in May 2015 she will become an Assistant Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California.

 

Tanya RennerTanya Renner
Assistant Professor, San Diego State University
Ph.D. awarded 2011

Tanya recently accepted an Assistant Professorship at San Diego State University. Her research will focus on evolutionary genetics and genomics, systematics, and the effects of multi-species interactions on form and function. Previously she had been collaborating with Dr. Wendy Moore at the University of Arizona to study the evolution of the chemosensory system in beetles. Her postdoctoral research has been funded through the National Institutes of Health as part of the IRACDA program that provides training and mentorship in research and teaching.

 

jamesschnableJames Schnable
Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ph.D. awarded 2012

James is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received an NSF Plant Genome postdoctoral fellowship than enabled him to study at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis MO, and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, China. His research looks at the regulation of gene expression in plants using comparative genomics and gene expression data.

 

 

Silverman, AndreaAndrea Silverman
Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
Ph.D. awarded 2013

Andrea is a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering where she continues to research treatment of human waste for reuse. She is working on developing an improved model of sunlight inactivation of bacteria, as well as trying to better understand why laboratory-grown and environmentally-sourced bacteria have different susceptibilities to sunlight. 

 * Daniel Richter, Joey Pakes, and Nicholas Matzke were also awarded Fellowships in 2011-2012. For their bios, please see the 2012-2013 recipients.


2010-2011 RECIPIENTS

Steve BellanSteven Bellan
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. awarded 2012

Steven is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the University of Texas at Austin. Trained in epidemiology, wildlife ecology, and applied mathematics, Steven combines innovative statistical methods with high performance computing to discover the processes that shape outbreaks and the pressure points for containing them. His work has provided critical insights into the drivers of Africa’s devastating HIV epidemics, and strategies for mitigating outbreaks of Ebola, anthrax, and rabies worldwide.

 

chrisgordonChris Golden
Director of HEAL (Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages)
Ph.D. awarded 2011

Chris is currently based at the Harvard School of Public Health and is the Director of HEAL, a 25- institution research consortium led by Wildlife Conservation Society. His current research focuses on the interface of ecosystem service provisioning and human health, specifically in the context of global trends in biodiversity loss and ecosystem transformation. Through a series of empirical research programs, HEAL hopes to demonstrate the value of ecosystem integrity in protecting human health. To increase HEAL's policy reach, Chris serves on both the IPBES (Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) and the CBD/WHO joint task force on biodiversity and human health.

 

lars_plateLars Plate
Postdoctoral Fellow, Scripps Research Institute
Ph.D. awarded 2013 

Lars research for his Ph.D. focused on elucidating the biological role of nitric oxide (NO) sensing pathways in the bacteria Shewanella oneidensis and Vibrio choleraein. Currently he is working as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Jeffery Kelly at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, CA. He is studying how protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum can be modulated to develop new therapeutic approaches for a broad set of systemic amyloid diseases.

 

Sass, ChodonChodon Sass
Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley
Ph.D. awarded 2010

Chodon received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from UC Berkeley in 2010. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Craig Moritz at UC Berkeley working on biogeography and next generation sequencing in Australian reptiles. She later worked in Professor Chelse Specht's Lab at UC Berkeley working on comparative methods for phylogenetic analyses as part of the NSF funded Arbor Initiative. This initiative takes on the daunting volumes of data researchers face, looking at how to organize that information into a usable format. This project team is creating software tools to develop a way to visually portray evolutionary data so scientists can see, at a glance, how organisms are related. The results have the potential to transform the way biologists test evolutionary and ecological hypotheses.

 *Manisha Anantharaman, James Schnable, and Andrea Silverman were also awarded Fellowships in 2010-2011. For their bios, please see the 2011-2012 recipients above.


2009-2010 RECIPIENTS

Ellison, ChristopherChristopher Ellison
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. awarded 2011

After completing his Ph.D in 2001, Chris was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health to use functional genomic approaches to study the evolution of gene regulatory networks in the laboratory of Professor Doris Bachtrog in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. The results of his research were recently published in the journal Science.

 

Soergel, David David Soergel

Software Engineer, Google
Ph.D. awarded 2010

David is a software engineer at Google. Previously he was a research scientist in computer science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he worked on large-scale machine learning infrastructure for natural language processing, scientific bibliometrics, and open peer review. He received his Ph.D. in Biophysics, where he worked on data analysis methods in environmental genomics.

 

ericsteenEric Steen
CEO and Founder, Lygos, Inc.
Ph.D. awarded 2010

 Eric is the CEO and Founder of Lygos, Inc., where they use biology to convert low-cost sugar to high-value chemicals. Previously, Eric assisted in securing and managing projects for the Joint Bioenergy Institute (JBEI). He led their efforts to engineer biocatalysts for the conversion of sugars into fuels and chemicals, which are now being commercialized. He has  served as an advisor and consultant to the US National Petroleum Council. 

 

WassermanMichael Wasserman
Assistant Professor, St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas
Ph.D. awarded 2011

After receiving his Ph.D. in 2011, Michael became a Tomlinson Postdoctoral Research Fellow at McGill University in Montreal. Now at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Michael’s research focuses on phytoestrogens in wild primate diets. He will spend this coming summer at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, working on new collaborations focused on chimpanzee and traditional human hunter-gatherer diets.

 

kelly wrighton Kelly Wrighton
Assistant Professor, Ohio State University
Ph.D. awarded 2010

Kelly is an Assistant Professor at Ohio State University in the microbiology department. Her research investigates the role microbes play in methane producing ecosystems, with a particular interest in natural gas management, greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands, and protection of humans from gastrointestinal disease. Previously she was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley specializing in the the physiology of microbes.

 * Chodon Sass, Lars Plate, and Steve Bellan were also awarded Fellowships in 2009-2010. For their bios, please see the 2010-2011 recipients above.


2008-2009 RECIPIENTS

Fritz-LaylinLillian Fritz-Laylin
Molecular and Cell Biology
Ph.D. awarded 2010

After completing her Ph.D., Lillian was a postdoctoral scholar in Professor Dyche Mullins' lab at UCSF School of Medicine, identifying and characterizing genes required for cell migration, a process important in human development, immunity, cancer metastasis, as well as for single celled organisms that bridge the food chain between bacteria and animals. Lillian has performed a comparative genomics screen that identified 112 gene families conserved only in organisms capable of actin-based cell motility. She also looked at the phenotype of cells depleted of the gene products, using human white blood cells. So far, several novel genes have promising phenotypes, including reduced migration, and aberrant actin structures.

 

philipPhilip Johnson
Assistant Professor, University of Maryland
Ph.D. awarded 2009

Philip is an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Maryland. Previously he was a research fellow in the Rustom Antia Lab at Emory University. His current research interests include immune system dynamics viewed through the lens of population genetics, methods for estimating contamination in ancient DNA samples, and understand mutation rate evolution.

 

 

Krisitn_RobrockKristin Robrock
Managing Engineer, Exponent, Inc.
Ph.D. awarded 2008

Kristin is an environmental engineer and microbiologist at Exponent, Inc. where she specializes in biodegradation and the fate of chemicals in the environment. She focuses on emerging contaminants, chlorinated solvents, in-situ bioremediation, and analytical chemistry. During her Ph.D. work, Kristin studied the degradation of the flame retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) by aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and delineated the degradation pathways and determined the conditions necessary for these biological processes to occur.

 *Christopher Ellison, David Soergel, Eric Steen, Michael Wasserman were also awarded Fellowships in 2008-2009. For their bios, please see the 2009-2010 recipients above.


2007-2008 RECIPIENTS

Murray, Ashley Ashley Murray
Founder & CEO, Waste Enterprisers, Accra, Ghana
Ph.D. awarded 2009

Since completing her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley, Ashley worked as a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley's Institute of Urban and Regional Development based at the International Water Management Institute in Accra, Ghana. In 2010, using her considerable expertise is in the design and implementation of reuse-oriented wastewater and fecal sludge treatment systems, she founded Waste Enterprisers LLC, a business that treats human waste as a resource. The organization recently received a $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Ashley was named to the 2011 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers.

 

Kabir PeayKabir Peay
Assistant Professor, Stanford University
Ph.D. awarded 2008

After obtaining his Ph.D., Kabir continued as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley and then at Stanford.  He worked as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota from 2011-2012 before returning to Stanford as an assistant professor in September 2012. His primary research focus is community ecology and he encourages people in his lab to use a wide range of experimental approaches and technical tools, such as remote sensing, stable isotopes, gas exchange analyses and molecular genetics, to study a number of ecological topics. He works primarily on plant-fungal interactions.

 

sharpton-thomasTom Sharpton
Assistant Professor, Oregon State University
Ph.D. awarded 2009

Prior to becoming an assistant professor at Oregon State University, Tom was a postdoctoral research fellow at the J. David Gladston Institute for Cardiovascular Disease at UCSF. His current research focuses on understanding the abundant array of microorganisms that cover the human body (known as the human microbiome) and how they influence health. He specializes in the development and application of high-throughput computational and statistical tools that characterize the diversity and function of the human microbiome, with the aim of identifying novel disease mechanisms and diagnostics.

 

Westbrook, MarjorieMarjorie "Jody" Westbrook
Scientist, Invitae
Ph.D. awarded 2011

After completing her Ph.D., Jody went on to work as a scientists at Locus Development, a San Francisco-based startup developing clinical tools and services that will enable more personalized, predictive, preventative, and cost-effective healthcare.

 * Philip Johnson, Lillian Fritz-Laylin, Kristin Robrock were also awarded Fellowships in 2007-2008. For their bios, please see the 2008-2009 recipients above.


2005-2006 & 2006-2007 RECIPIENTS

Cande, JessicaJessica Cande
Molecular and Cell Biology
Ph.D. awarded 2009

Since completing her Ph.D., Jessica continued as a postdoctoral fellow in the Prud’homme and Gompel lab at the IBDML in Marseille. Her research focuses on understanding the evolution and genetics of innate courtship behavior in diverse fruit fly species.

 

 

Leache, AdamAdam Leaché
Integrative Biology
Ph.D. awarded 2008

Upon completion of his Ph.D., Adam took on the position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. Research in his lab focused on phylogenetics, systematics, phylogeography, and species delimitation. Adam and his lab staff and students study natural populations and conduct extensive fieldwork to collect specimens for their research. The focus is currently on amphibians and reptiles, but the lab has on-going projects focused on birds, mammals, and plants.

 

Tyson, Gene Gene Tyson
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
Ph.D. awarded 2006

After obtaining his Ph.D, Gene went on to become Assistant Professor, Senior Research Fellow at the Advanced Water Management Centre, and Deputy Director at the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. He is a microbial ecologist whose research applies molecular approaches to understand the structure and function of microbial communities in the environment. Following his Ph.D., at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2006-2009), he conducted postdoctoral research work on the composition, functional potential, regulation, and evolution of complex marine microbial communities at sites around the world. His research interests at the Advanced Water Management Centre include molecular microbial ecology, microbial diversity, microbial evolution, the role of microorganism in the biogeochemical cycles that underpin life on Earth.

 *Ashley Murray, Kabir Peay, Tom Sharpton were also awarded Fellowships in 2006-2007. For their bios, please see the 2007-2008 recipients above.