Middlebury College is one of the baccalaureate partner institutions participating in a major grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Vermont. This grant continues the Vermont Genetics Network support that has been an important source of funding for faculty and student research during the past decade. Project grants support summer and academic-year effort for faculty members from June 2016-May 2017, and pilot grants support summer effort for faculty members from June 2016-August 2016. The following faculty members received individual grants from this program to support their research this year:
David Allen (Biology) received a pilot grant titled Elevational Gradient in Black-legged Tick Density and Borrelia-infection. The proposed work aims to understand how the population and phenology of the black-legged tick, the Lyme disease vector, change with elevation. Understanding this relationship will allow for more targeted tick control and Lyme disease prevention efforts. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.
Amanda Crocker (Neuroscience) received a pilot grant titled Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Plasticity and Diversity in Neural Circuits. The proposed work aims to understand how long-term memories are encoded molecularly within individual neurons, and the work has the potential to provide novel molecular pathways and drug targets for age-related cognitive decline and diseases. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.
Michael Dash (Psychology and Neuroscience) received a pilot grant titled Metabolic Consequences of Synaptic Plasticity. The proposed work aims to characterize the basic biological processes that maintain balance between energy supply and demand in the healthy brain, and the work will provide a foundation for novel therapeutic targets to treat the widespread impairments in energy balance and cellular communication characteristic of most neurodegenerative disorders. The grant includes support for one undergraduate student.
Michael Durst (Physics) received a renewal of his project grant titled High-Speed 3D Multiphoton Fluorescence Imaging with Temporal Focusing Microscopy. The proposed work aims to improve the speed of 3D multiphoton microscopy through temporal focusing, with the goal of reaching video-rate 3D imaging in biological tissue. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.
Glen Ernstrom (Biology and Neuroscience) received a renewal of his project grant titled Genetic Analysis of Neurotransmitter Release in C. Elegans. The proposed research investigates how the pH of synaptic vesicles regulates how neurons signal. Greater understanding of this process could aid the development of novel drug therapies to either enhance or inhibit neurotransmitter release. The grant includes support for four undergraduate students.
Clarissa Parker (Psychology and Neuroscience) received a renewal of her project grant titled Genome-wide Association for Ethanol Sensitivity in the DO Mouse Population. The goal of this work is to use a highly recombinant mouse population to map genes in mice. A better understanding of the pathways linking genetic variation and expression to neuronal function and behavior in mice will provide novel insights that can inform the prevention and treatment of psychiatric disorders in humans. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.
AnGayle (AJ) Vasiliou (Chemistry & Biochemistry) received a renewal of her project grant titled Thermal Composition of Biomass: Molecular Pathways for Sulfur Chemistry. The aim of this research is to elucidate the detailed chemical mechanisms and kinetics associated with the thermal decomposition of sulfur compounds found in biomass feedstock. The results of this work can be used to develop a sound strategy to suppress the formation of poisonous sulfur compounds during biomass decomposition, generating clean liquid fuels and ultimately lowering sulfur emissions. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.