Liz Droge-Young American Dissertation Fellowship

Liz Droge-Young American Dissertation Fellowship

-Music- Liz:
So right here we are looking at female reproductive tracks of females who where mated to two different
males. So this area here is called the bursa. It’s where sperm comes in and also where
eggs will come down this little tube to be fertilized. My name is Liz Droge-Young and I am a Biology
Ph.D. Candidate. And I study the evolution of reproductive traits and I use Flour beetles
as my model system. Flour beetles are a grain pest. They can be
found all over the world; anyplace that humans store grain. They are incredibly promiscuous. They can
mate multiple times in an hour. So that is something really interesting that I am looking
at …why they are so promiscuous. They also, or I should say, we have special lines that
we have created in collaboration with John Belote, who is a geneticist in the department,
that have red or green fluorescently tagged sperm. We are able to mate a female to a red
male and a green male and then see how those different sperm perform; and not as a question
of red verses green. You can look at it correlated to other male traits. So say, your red males
are larger than your green males. Then you can look and see, well, do if larger beetles
have some sort of advantage over smaller beetles? One of the main goals is to understand how
it impacts biodiversity. So we are trying to figure out, why is it that they mate so
much? Are there environmental reasons? And what are the downstream consequences of this
extreme promiscuity? I was awarded a dissertation writing fellowship
from the American Association of University Women. It’s a grant that pays just for my
living essentially. It means that I have an entire year that I can entirely focus on research
and not have to worry about teaching, which is great in it’s own right, but definitely
takes a lot of time out of the research that you are trying to get together as a Ph.D.
student. So I have just the financial support and the freedom to just work on my research. I actually didn’t realize how competitive
the award was until I was awarded it. It was given to about 50 women this year across the
united states in every field of research, whether that is science, whether that is the
humanities…anything whatsoever. “So what are you guys…what is the experiment
you are doing today?” I feel like I completely lucked out in landing
a Ph.D. position in this department; and particularly in this lab. I have just the most fantastic
collogues. We all study slightly different systems, but we are able to really support
each other and collaborate and help each other out on experiments. On experiment days we
just get everyone in the lab together to watch whatever insect is mating that day. In the
department in general, I have been given good support for traveling for conferences and
encouraged to really get my research out there and communicate with other scientists about
that in other departments. Ramesh Raina:
It’s a great joy for us to see our students recognized, nationally and internationally
with these types of awards and prizes. So it’s a big honor and a great joy to the
whole department. It also motivates students. Other students… it sort of energizes them
that they should apply for these types of things. Liz:
Its wonderful. It’s a great time. I feel like I am cheating. -Music-

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