Incoming student, Myers, awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship


Jul 17, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Jillian Myers observing bacteria cultured from frog skins.

Jillian Myers observing bacteria cultured from frog skins.

Jillian Myers, an incoming EEB doctoral student, was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRF Program has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers.

“I’m excited to be joining EEB this fall,” said Myers, who completed a B.S. in biology from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., where she studied the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis. She will continue this research at U-M with her advisor, Professor Tim James

“Numerous frog species are extinct in the wild because of this disease, but many others are coexisting with the causative agent, a fungal pathogen,” Myers explained. “I’m interested in how other microbes and agents on amphibian skin may be contributing to the observed differences in pathogen virulence. Many bacterial species produce chemicals that kill the pathogen, and augmenting these bacteria on amphibians is one suggested conservation strategy.

“A topic I may explore is how the pathogen might evolve in response to these bacteria, which could be important if this strategy is used in the field. I hope that my research will advance knowledge of bacterial-fungal interactions as well as aid in amphibian conservation efforts.”

Myers will begin the fellowship this fall. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $32,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.