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2013 Career Development Grants for Postdoctoral Women Recipients

The ASM Membership Board is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2013 Career Development Grants for Postdoctoral Women: Seemay Chou, University of Washington, Seattle (Joseph Mougous’ Laboratory); Trinity Hamilton, Penn State Astrobiology Research Center (Jennifer Macalady’s Laboratory); Karyna Rosario Cora, University of South Florida (Mya Breibart’s Laboratory); and Michelle Swick, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (Theresa Koehler’s Laboratory).

ChouSeemay Chou received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and is now a postdoctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Joseph Mougous at the University of Washington, where she studies the structure and evolution of the bacterial type VI amidase superfamily. Her research focuses on how sequence-based diversity within this superfamily of PG-degrading amidases can shape functional diversity and, ultimately, the outcome of interbacterial competition. She is using this superfamily to investigate how PG structural diversity in recipient cells can influence Tae-mediated toxicity. She is also working to characterize overall PG structure and probing cell wall architectural differences in bacteria. Her aim is to establish a basic molecular understanding of how Tae specifıcity is encoded and use the Tae enzymes as a toolkit for surveying differences in PG structure at different growth stages, in various environmental conditions, and in many different bacterial species. Her preliminary work has shown that the Tae enzymes are highly amenable to structural characterization, and that a combination of different techniques will teach more about their interactions with PG. Chou will use the award to travel to the laboratory of Waldemar Vollmer of the Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Newcastle to learn techniques related to cell wall purifıcation and analysis.

HamiltonAfter completing her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Montana State University-Bozeman, Trinity Hamilton began postdoctoral work in Jennifer Macalady’s Laboratory at the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center. Hamilton’s research is aimed at understanding the role of biology in planetary redox evolution using approaches that blend biochemistry, molecular biology, geochemistry, and bioinformatics. She is combining -omics approaches (genomes, metagenomes, and [meta]transcriptomes), microcosm and enrichment cultures, and high-resolution geochemical measurements to elucidate the co-occurrence of oxygenic and anoxygenic phototrophs in early Earth analog environments. At a newly discovered Proterozoic-like microbial ecosystem at Little Salt Spring, Fla., she conducts studies which quantify contributions of oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis to CO2 fıxation and identify environmental controls on oxygen production. Insights gained into the biogeochemical functioning of microbial communities at Little Salt Spring will directly inform the study of Proterozoic rocks, including biosignatures, geochemical thresholds, and biogeochemical process rates related to oxygenic vs. anoxygenic photosynthesis. Hamilton will use the award to travel to the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology to develop a portable flow chamber necessary for in situ activity assays aimed at understanding oxygen production by phototrophic mats in a Proterozoic ocean analog.

CoraKaryna Rosario Cora is a postdoctoral researcher in Mya Breitbart’s Laboratory at the University of South Florida, where she also received her Ph.D. degree in Biological Oceanography. Her current research focuses on a novel group of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses that she discovered through her Ph.D. research. She prepared the fırst comprehensive review summarizing features of circular ssDNA viruses and recently discovered viruses and proposed a new classifıcation scheme for ssDNA viruses that exhibit novel genome architectures. She is now investigating the diversity and biogeographical distribution of ssDNA plant viral pathogens (i.e., begomoviruses) by conducting viral metagenomics on whiteflies (their insect vector) collected from different parts of the world. She also explores the diversity of ssDNA viruses in invertebrates and fungi and their evolutionary relationships to vertebrate and plant ssDNA viruses. In addition to her own research, she oversees undergraduate and graduate student projects in the lab. Rosario Cora will use the award to visit and conduct experiments at Mavis Agbandje-McKenna’s laboratory at the University of Florida in Gainesville to further her ssDNA virus research, establish new collaborations, and acquire expertise in a new discipline.

SwickMichelle Swick began her postdoctoral training in Theresa Koehler’s Laboratory at the University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at Houston after receiving her Ph.D. in Cell & Molecular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine. Her Ph.D. research focused on mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli and resulted in the development of a patented pooling strategy partnered with nextgeneration sequencing, which pools and sequences samples that share a common phenotype. Using the pooling strategy, she identifed four novel SNPs that appear to be important to fluoroquinolone resistance in E. coli, each corresponding to the cap of an α-helix involved in DNA interaction. Her current research focuses on defıning the mechanism by which camelysin contributes to B. anthracis pathogenesis, specifıcally trying to determine the impact of camelysin on the B. anthracis secretome, to characterize the importance of zinc to the activity of camelysin, and to test the importance of camelysin in the context of virulence. She currently serves as Chair of the Postdoctoral Association Executive Committee at UT Health, where she leads efforts to plan relevant and productive postdoctoral activities. Swick will use the award to visit the laboratory of Anne Boyer at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to examine the expression of bacterial secreted proteases during infection using state-of-the-art detection methods developed in her laboratory.

The 2014 Career Development Grants for Postdoctoral Women program is currently accepting applications. Up to four grants ($1,500 each) are given annually to postdoctoral women of outstanding scientifıc accomplishment and potential for additional signifıcant 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/professionaldevelopment/postdocs/121-whats-new/membership/1120-womens-career-development-grants on the ASM website.

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