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Duffy receives NSF CAREER Award
Atlanta (April 1, 2011) — Meghan Duffy (Assistant Professor, School of Biology) has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). According to the NSF, “the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”
The research supported by this award will focus on rapid evolution in host-parasite interactions and its effects on invasive species. As rates of parasitism increase and species invasions skyrocket, there are increasing numbers of outbreaks of disease that result from novel host-parasite pairings. How do hosts and parasites evolve in response to these new interactions? What are the consequences for ecological dynamics of native and invasive hosts? Duffy’s project uses interactions among a native bacterial parasite, a native zooplankton host, and an invasive zooplankton host that is now infected by the native bacterial parasite to ask how parasites adapt when they first enter a novel host. Existing genetic archives for both host and parasite provide a rare opportunity to study the important process of how pathogens that originate in one host species move to another; this host switch is usually very difficult to observe in nature. In addition, observational studies of lake populations, laboratory experiments and mathematical models will be used to understand how parasitism influences population dynamics of native and invasive hosts.
An important component of this project involves educating, training and diversifying the next generation of scientists. Duffy and her lab will work with science educators to develop hands-on, experiential learning activities for K-12 students in Atlanta, focusing on plankton and microbes. Informal science education activities aimed at the general public will also be developed, and will be used to engage visitors to Piedmont Park.
School of Biology
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation's premiere research universities. Ranked among U.S. News & World Report's top 10 public universities, Georgia Tech educates more than 16,000 students every year through its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech maintains a diverse campus and is among the nation's top producers of women and African-American engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute. During the 2003-2004 academic year, Georgia Tech reached $341.9 million in new research award funding.