COSAM News Articles 2023 January Laurie Stevison receives MIRA award for $1.8 million to investigate the role of female egg production in driving biodiversity

Laurie Stevison receives MIRA award for $1.8 million to investigate the role of female egg production in driving biodiversity

Published: 01/10/2023

By: Maria Gebhardt

Laurie Stevison, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the recipient of a prestigious $1,864,043 award from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences, or NIGMS, part of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH.

“I am so excited to continue my research in evolutionary genomics and to investigate the role of gametogenesis in females in generating novel genetic diversity in natural populations!” said Stevison.

Her research project, The Role of Oogenesis in Speciation, dives into understanding the role of reproductive barriers in speciation research using the fruit fly as a model over the next five years.

Oogenesis is a critical developmental process in females that is understudied in speciation. Stevison will be able to create new data on oogenesis that currently does not exist by focusing on recombination and the role of environmental stress in hybrids.

This Maximizing Investigators' Research Award, or MIRA, gives Stevison more stability to focus on her research as an early stage investigator.

“This NIH-sponsored research is at the interface of reproductive and environmental health – both important missions at NIH,” said Stevison.

By looking at various stressors, Stevison and her team will be able to identify potential mechanisms for recombination rate plasticity due to environmental factors – a mystery that has puzzled scientists for over a century.

“As a first-generation college graduate in my family, this award shows future generations of female scientists that they can pursue a career in science and make significant contributions with meaningful accomplishments like this MIRA award,” said Stevison. “I hope this award inspires first-generation college students that they can achieve anything they want.”

Stevison was recognized as an Outstanding Faculty Undergraduate Mentor in 2022 at the college’s annual Honors Convocation ceremony.

In the Stevison Lab, the team strives to analyze the genetic processes in species formation. One of the former undergraduate students in her lab also was the first post-bacc student funded by the NSF at Auburn University.

 

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