April 18, 2011
Dr. Michael J. Wolyniak, Assistant Professor of Biology, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The grant is part of the National Science Foundation's Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) program and is a collaborative program between Hampden-Sydney, the College of Charleston, Barnard College, and the University of Georgia.
The grant, which will bring $113,000 in direct funding to Hampden-Sydney over the next 3 years, seeks to build a collaborative network of undergraduates to study the genetics and ecology of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. A. thaliana is a simple plant with strong evolutionary similarity to more complex plants. Therefore, an understanding of how A. thaliana lives and thrives can lead to an improved understanding of plant biology as a whole, including the genetics of valuable staple crops like corn, wheat, and rice.
At Hampden-Sydney, we will undertake the molecular characterization of a series of A. thaliana lines with random gene disruptions in them. Specifically, we will decipher the number of random disruptions that have occurred per line and compare our data to that obtained at other schools in the network to see how different genetic disruptions lead to distinct effects on the line's ability to grow under different conditions. The combined data will hopefully result in the development of a genetic/ecological database that can be of use to the entire plant biology research community.