COSAM News Articles 2018 August Dr. Rita Graze Receives $1,092,468 NSF CAREER Award to Research Hormone Signaling Pathways

Dr. Rita Graze Receives $1,092,468 NSF CAREER Award to Research Hormone Signaling Pathways

Published: 08/28/2018

By: Maria Gebhardt

In evolutionary biology and in the health sciences, the significance of intralocus sexual conflict, which examines the reasons why males and females have different traits such as height, has widespread recognition.  “This research will help us understand the differences in sex dimorphism in regard to broad factors such as aging and disease risk,” explains Dr. Graze.

Dr. Rita Graze is an Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences Department of the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM). She is the recipient of a five-year $1,092,468 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Grant: Uncovering mechanisms that shape variation in how males and females differ in their gene expression.

In the Graze Lab, research focuses on further understanding sexual differences in gene regulation.  “My research takes advantage of three key features of the Drosophila model system to understand the role of hormone signaling in intralocus sexual conflict and the genetical control of sexual dimorphism: First, fruit flies are a premiere laboratory model organism in genetics and evolution. Second, D. melanogaster is one of the best-studied organisms from the perspective of sexual conflict; both forms of conflict, intra- and interlocus, are known to have strong influences on fitness in this system. Third, the ease of maintenance and experimentation, rapid generation time, and scalability of the system make it excellent for the educational goals of the CAREER Award,” shares Dr. Graze.

Through these educational goals of the award, gifted students from underrepresented areas of Alabama and Georgia will have a chance to attend Dr. Graze’s outreach program to benefits from a more in-depth research experience at the 2019 Summer Science Institute. Furthermore, undergraduate students in COSAM at Auburn University will learn about Dr. Graze’s work through course-based research experiences.

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