Bateman Wins NSF CAREER Grant for Genetics Research and Education

Bowdoin continues to be a magnet for illustrious awards, with several major grants totaling more than $1.6 million awarded to faculty and programs at the College in recent months.

fruit-fly

Biology professor Jack Bateman has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER award in the amount of $797,395 for his project “Mechanisms of cis-/trans-promoter competition in Drosophila.” Recently named the Samuel S. Butcher Assistant Professor in the Natural Sciences at Bowdoin, Bateman – who was also the lead investigator for a recent Maine INBRE grant project – studies the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to better understand how genes can be turned on and off. For the CAREER grant he is focusing on enhancers and promoters, pieces of DNA that are analogous to a locks and keys for activating genes.

Fruit Fly Genetics

The NSF CAREER award is given “in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars though outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” In that spirit, Bateman will use the grant not only to advance scientific understanding of gene regulation through research, but also to expand his longstanding education and outreach efforts within the field of genetics. Bateman is a co-founder of the Personal Genetics Education Project, an outreach organization focused on raising public awareness about personal genetics, with a focus on the ethical, legal, and social issues around personal genome sequencing.

fruitfly-cookies

Drosophila cookies baked to celebrate the Bateman lab’s 2013 summer research season (by seniors Beatriz Malibiran, llana Mayer-Hirshfeld, Tamira Vojnar, and Tracy Shirey)

Bateman’s plans for the CAREER award include using his research to develop a laboratory module for Bowdoin genetics students to carry out as part of their coursework, exploring interactions between different enhancers and promoters. He will collaborate with colleagues at Southern Maine Community College to host an annual molecular biology workshop for SMCC students at Bowdoin, based on the same lab module used in his genetics class.

In addition, he will partner with and support the Bowdoin Science Experience, which provides laboratory experience to first year Bowdoin students from underrepresented groups. The CAREER grant will also support two summer undergraduate researchers each year to work in Bateman’s lab on projects investigating the roles of enhancers and promoters in Drosophila gene regulation.

Other Bowdoin faculty members to receive CAREER awards are Eric Chown (chair of the Computer Science Department and co-director of the Digital and Computational Studies Initiative) and Daniela Oliveira (assistant professor of computer science). Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Philip Camill has also received a CAREER award, prior to his arrival at the College.

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