NSF RII Track-2 FEC Award - Dr. Sara Cahan, University of Vermont, (Principal Investigator)

RII Track-2 FEC: From Genome to Phenome in a Stressful World: Epigenetic Regulatory Mechanisms Mediating Thermal Plasticity in Drosophila Vermont lead institution with Rhode Island and Kentucky Sara Cahan, University of Vermont, (Principal Investigator) Seth Frietze, University of Vermont (Co-Principal Investigator)

Associate Professor Sara Helms Cahan with high school students during a summer workshop.
Faculty from the Department of Biology (Sara Helms Cahan, Brent Lockwood ) and the Department of Biomedical and Health Sciences (Seth Frietze) at UVM have received a $4,771,722 Track-2 award to build a cross-jurisdictional research network with colleagues in Rhode Island (James Waters, Providence College and Heather J. Axen, Salve Regina University) and at the University of Kentucky (Nicholas Teets). In line with the program’s theme of “Genome to Phenome”, the team will be investigating how the genotype and environment interact to determine resistance to temperature stress, using the fruit fly model organism Drosophila melanogaster.
The research team brings together scientists with diverse and complementary expertise, from cellular epigenetics to physiology to evolutionary biology, providing multiple opportunities for productive collaboration. At UVM, research will focus on the molecular genetic processes that allow early temperature signals to be translated into changes in gene expression later in life. Students and post-doctoral trainees will learn how to generate and analyze large data sets with advanced computational methods, and identify candidate mechanisms that they will experimentally manipulate using a wealth of functional genetic tools available in the fruit fly. The project will build a strong, sustainable connection between flagship universities and smaller, undergraduate-focused institutions that can struggle to support scientific research without the support of colleagues and established infrastructure.
As part of the project’s mission, the team will also be developing outreach activities to broaden STEM participation to underserved communities in Vermont and beyond. These include an intensive summer research program for undergraduates, and weeklong summer workshops to introduce the exciting field of Genetics to high school students.
NSF Award Abstract #1826689