Skip directly to content

Minimize RSR Award Detail

Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

  • Sarah Khalil
Award Date:06/04/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 138,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 138,000
  • FY 2021=$138,000
Start Date:03/01/2022
End Date:02/29/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology FY 2021: Towards an integrative understanding of conspicuous signals: phenotype, genotype, and adaptive function of a selected trait
Federal Award ID Number:2109519
Program:Broadening Participation of Gr
Program Officer:
  • Daniel Marenda
  • (703) 292-2157

Awardee Location

City:New Orleans
Awardee Cong. District:

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Cornell University
Cong. District:23

Abstract at Time of Award

This action funds an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology for FY 2020, Broadening Participation of Groups Under-represented in Biology. The Fellowship supports a research and training plan for the Fellow that will increase the participation of groups underrepresented in biology. This project aims to broaden participation of groups underrepresented in biology in two ways: (1) by implementing a program that will directly increase the diversity of postdoctoral scientists and (2) by funding the fellow to engage in novel research in functional genomics. This research investigates how red-backed fairywrens, a small Australian bird, produce their red feathers, and how this individual redness may affect male reproductive success. Connecting how a signal is produced to the associated reproductive outcomes is a fundamental question in evolution, yet these components are often studied independently. This research will characterize how red feathers are produced by identifying the genes underlying red pigmentation and will use long-term breeding data to track the reproductive success of red-backed fairywren males that vary in plumage color. Showy male traits have long captured the imagination of evolutionary biologists. However, insular approaches to studying these mechanisms can hinder an integrated understanding of these traits. The proposed research spans different levels of inquiry to investigate the evolution of the sexually-selected, red plumage in the red-backed fairywren (Malurus melanocephalus). The fellow proposes to explore the proximate and ultimate mechanisms responsible for the production and maintenance of hue variation, which varies extensively across the species' range. The fellow will collect samples in Australia and use genomic and transcriptomic tools to identify candidate loci associated with color production. In addition, this work will identify the direction and strength of selection on loci in response to the observed female preference for redder plumage. The fellow will leverage demographic data from two populations and use quantitative modeling to quantify the adaptive function of plumage and its relationship to reproductive success. The integration of an ecologically relevant trait that influences fitness with species-wide genomic data will prove critical in understanding phenotypic evolution. The project's broader impacts are designed to close a gap for underrepresented minority scientists by developing a program to target and support graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds when they are at the critical career stage of applying to postdoctoral positions. The proposed research will further broaden diversity by providing opportunities for underrepresented minority students to gain research experience at the high school and undergraduate level. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

For specific questions or comments about this information including the NSF Project Outcomes Report, contact us.