The ASM Membership Board is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2011 Career Development Grants for Postdoctoral Women. The recipients are Sinem Beyhan of the University of California, San Francisco (Anita Sil's laboratory), Ashley Shade of Yale University (Jo Handelsman's laboratory), and Laura E. Williams of Duke University (Jennifer Wernegreen's laboratory).
Sinem Beyhan received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is now a postdoctoral fellow in Anita Sil's laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. She is currently conducting research on the fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum, the most common cause of fungal respiratory infections in immunocompetent hosts. H. capsulatum has a dimorphic life cycle, switching from an infectious filamentous form in soil to a pathogenic yeast form in mammalian hosts. By replicating this morphological switch in the laboratory, Beyhan is investigating how H. capsulatum alters its growth program when it senses temperature changes. Her research on the three genes (RYP1, RYP2, and RYP3) that are required for yeast-phase growth in response to temperature has provided insights into molecular mechanisms by which the genes regulate yeast-tohyphal transition. She demonstrated the importance of heat shock proteins and a transcription factor, FacB, in regulation of cell morphology in H. capsulatum. She is pursuing studies of the mechanism of how heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) influences regulation of cell shape by temperature. Beyhan used the Career Development Grants for Postdoctoral Women award to attend the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) Human Fungal Pathogens Course in La Colle sur Loup, France.
After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ashley Shade began a postdoctoral position with Jo Handelsman at Yale University, where she is using functional metagenomics and computation for next-generation (454 and Illumnia) sequencing to assess microbial resilience after perturbation across different dynamic systems. Shade has been involved in the design of the Earth Microbiome Project, a next-generation sequencing study to understand microbial diversity across soil, aquatic, and "extreme" biomes of our planet. She is leading a conceptual review and metaanalysis of microbial robustness, which was an outgrowth of a roundtable session she and Handelsman cochaired at the International Symposium on Microbial Ecology. Shade collaborates with researchers at the University of Colorado and Argonne National Laboratory on analyses of temporal variability within and across communities from host-associated microbiome and environmental habitats. Additionally, she is working on a project to understand the implications of a "core" microbiome on interpretation of next-generation sequencing. She has mentored several undergraduates and reviewed articles for journals, such as Bioinformatics and Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Shade used the grant to attend the Marine Biological Laboratory Microbial Diversity summer course at Woods Hole, Mass.
Laura E. Williams joined Jennifer Wernegreen's Laboratory (originally located at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., but since moved to the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Duke University, Durham, N.C.) after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, Athens. She researches genome evolution in Blochmannia, which are bacterial endosymbionts of carpenter ants. Due to extensive gene loss, Blochmannia can no longer exist independently from their ant hosts. They are strictly maternally transmitted and cospeciate with ant hosts. Williams is using Illumina sequencing technology to generate a dataset of Blochmannia genomes for comparative analyses and studies of molecular evolution in Blochmannia, focusing on how strength of selection is affected by the reduction in bacterial effective population size due to bottlenecks during maternal transmission. By comparing a large dataset of Blochmannia genomes of closely related and more divergent species, she hopes to learn how the symbiosis between Blochmannia and carpenter ants has evolved. In future research, Williams plans to investigate the evolution of predation in bacteria using an integrated approach that combines genomics and molecular biology. Williams used the grant to visit Elizabeth Sockett's laboratory at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, to study isolation, culture, and assay techniques for predatory bacteria.
The 2012 Career Development Grants for Postdoctoral Women program is currently accepting applications. Three grants ($1,200 each) are given annually to postdoctoral women of outstanding scientific accomplishment and potential for additional significant research or study in the area of microbiology. For more information on the program and the application process, go to http://www.asm.org/index.php?option_com_content&view_article&id _37857&Itemid_199 on the ASM website.