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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

  • Kassandra Ford
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: Convergent Evolution of Development and Feeding Biomechanics in Weakly Electric Fishes from South America and Africa
Federal Award ID Number:2109291
Program:Broadening Participation of Gr
Program Officer:
  • Daniel Marenda
  • (703) 292-2157

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:George Washington University
Cong. District:00

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. The project incorporates multiple scientific fields and examines the concept of “convergent evolution,” or similar characteristics in unrelated organisms. This research addresses the lack of clear terminology associated with the term “convergent evolution” by investigating the question: at what point are organisms considered convergent? The fellow will use integrative methods to study two groups of diverse fishes and obtain training across scientific disciplines. This work is important preparation for the fellow’s future research program that will be focused on convergent evolution research. The sponsor will provide extensive training on teaching and mentoring so the fellow will be a well-rounded academic with experience with advising, lecturing, and leading students in research projects. The fellow will interact with underrepresented students at all educational levels during the broader impacts activities: K-12 students, STEM undergraduates, and graduate students. These efforts address the lack of representation in STEM at all levels, to increase the overall diversity at the postdoctoral level and beyond. The fellow will take an integrative and interdisciplinary approach to examining convergence (and its terminology) in two charismatic groups of freshwater fishes. Electric fishes, Gymnotiformes (South America) and Mormyridae (Africa), are generally deemed convergent in many ways, including genes, sensory systems, and ecology. Previous work showed that while these two groups are indeed similar in these aspects, they are not identical. The project will use methods to quantify head and skull shape, characterize feeding modes, and measure feeding success for comparisons across electric fish species. The results of this work will allow the fellow to understand the degree to which species in these two groups are convergent in developmental processes and/or functional behaviors. The fellow aims to diversify the field of ichthyology through her research, collaborations, and mentorship of underrepresented students. The fellow will mentor undergraduates at a Historically Black College & University, advise a student during a Research Experiences for Undergraduates project, lead scientific lessons at K-12 schools, and host workshops for graduate students aimed at increasing diversity at the postdoctoral 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.

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