MBL Announces Whitman Fellowships and Early Career Investigator Awards

The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is pleased to announce the 2020 Whitman Fellowships and Early Career Investigator Awards, which will support 29 scientists to conduct innovative research for up to 10 weeks in the MBL Whitman Center.

While nearly all the Whitman Fellows and Early Career Investigators will be unable to come to Woods Hole this year due to COVID-19-related restrictions, the MBL has offered them the opportunity to defer until next year. “We look forward to seeing them in 2021,” says David Mark Welch, MBL Director of Research.

In a typical year, nearly 300 principal investigators, staff, and research associates from institutions worldwide convene in the Whitman Center, which offers them an unparalleled environment for collaboration. The MBL provides access to a diversity of marine and other organisms for research, state-of-the-art instrumentation, innovative imaging technologies and research, genome sequencing, and modern laboratory facilities. The Whitman Center scientists interact extensively with the dynamic and creative research environment at MBL, which encompasses its resident scientists and more than 1,400 international faculty, students and lecturers who participate in MBL’s Advanced Research Training Courses.

Using a wide range of experimental research organisms, from the canonical (such as squid) to the novel (such as sea robins), this year’s fellows are pursuing a variety of fundamental research questions related to neuroscience, cell biology and imaging, computation and modeling, regeneration and development, evolution, genomics, marine biology and diversity, microbiomes, and ecosystems and global change.

The 2020 Whitman Fellows and their proposed research projects are:

Clifford P. Brangwynne, Princeton University
Marine insights into the neurobiology of RNA editing

Chuan-Chin Chiao, National Tsing Hua University
Sensorimotor integration of cuttlefish for accurate visual attack on the moving prey

Karen Crawford, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Beyond proof of concept: using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing in Doryteuthis pealeii to ask important fundamental biological questions

Andre Fenton, New York University
Integrating across levels of biology to learn how memory is sustained

Bruce Fouke, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Impact of sea-surface temperature on zooxanthellae activity and coral skeletal density banding in Astrangia poculata: an experimental comparison of tropical and temperate biomineralization

Edgar Gomes, Instituto Medicina Molecular (Nikon Fellow)
Moving the cell nucleus in migrating cells

Michael Higley, Yale University School of Medicine
RNA editing and homeostatic plasticity in the squid optic lobe

Suresh Jesuthasan, Nanyang Technological University
An investigation of the amphibian Leydig cell: from mucosal immunology to conservation biology

Amy Maddox, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Cell and developmental ultrastructure and dynamics

Veronica Martinez-Acosta, Univ. of the Incarnate Word
Photoreception in Lumbriculus variegatus, an aquatic annelid

Danijela Matic Vignjevic, Institut Curie
Directional migration of epithelial cells in gut homeostasis

Gerardo Morfini, University of Illinois at Chicago
Axons from the squid Doryteuthis pealeii inform on mechanisms mediating the harmful effect of neuropathogenic proteins on axonal transport

Anthony Moss, Auburn University
Establishing a standardized, reproducible system for the study of geotaxis and mood in ctenophores

Isa Schön, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Further developing ostracods as emerging aquatic model organisms for evolutionary and biological research

Indu Sharma, Hampton University (E.E. Just Fellow)
Bacterial cell shape and size as predation avoidance strategy in marine environment

Ava Udvadia, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Elucidating evolutionarily conserved mechanisms regulating successful optic nerve regeneration in vertebrate species

Gert Jan Veenstra, Radboud University
Evolution and development of cardiac cell types

Elena Voronezhskaya, Koltsov Institute of Developmental Biology Russian Academy of Sciences
Non-canonical role of intracellular serotonin in early development and ciliogenesis of sea urchin

Trevor Wardill, University of Minnesota
Encoding 3D space in the cephalopod brain

Shigeki Watanabe, Johns Hopkins University
Axonal structure and trafficking using correlative microscopy and 3D super-resolution imaging

Fiona Watson, Washington and Lee University
Optic nerve regeneration

Ricardo Zayas, San Diego State University
Functional analysis of the transcription factor COE in the regeneration of the nervous system of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis

The 2020 Whitman Early Career Investigators are:

Vincent Boudreau, University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco
Stentor pyriformis: A novel cell biological model for uncovering evolutionary mechanisms of photosynthetic activity regulation

Amy Herbert, Stanford University
Sea robins as a model for evolutionary trait gain in vertebrates

Dragomir Milovanovic, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Molecular determinants of synaptic vesicle clustering in the nerve terminals

Tetsuto Miyashita, University of Chicago
Functions of the ‘isthmic organizer’ and the head-trunk differentiation of the nervous system in a non-chordate deuterostome (hemichordate) Saccoglossus kowalevskii

Nicole Webster, Clark University
Neural fate specification in Spiralia

Elizabeth Wilbanks, University of California, Santa Barbara
Biogeography of rapid evolution: the “pink berries” revisited

Christina Zakas, North Carolina State University
Chaetogenesis regulation as a model for developmental pathway evolution in Streblospio benedicti, a marine model for evo-devo

Home page photo: The MBL’s Rowe Laboratory, where many of the Whitman Center labs are located. Credit: Tom Kleindinst