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12-03-2001

Clarkson Biology Major Receives Science Award

Lisa M. Dietrich, a junior majoring in biology at Clarkson University, is the recipient of a 2001 Undergraduate Scholarship sponsored by the Entomological Foundation, a resource development organization for the Entomological Society of America. The $1,500 award was given in recognition of research Dietrich conducted on the European fruit fly.

“One of the great features of the biology program at Clarkson is that undergraduates have terrific opportunities to get involved in high-powered research,“ said Biology Professor George Gilchrist, Dietrich’s project adviser.

Dietrich’s research project focused on the ability of Drosophila subobscura, a European fruit fly that invaded the New World about two decades ago, to tolerate desiccation in relation to its geographic positions. Other research on D. subobscura has shown rapid evolution of some characteristics, such as body size and thermotolerance. In contrast, Dietrich’s research shows that desiccation resistance does not evolve rapidly and may therefore limit the insect’s ability to adapt to a changing climate. Her findings have important implications for ongoing evolutionary biology research.

“Lisa demonstrated her ability as an effective scientist,” said Gilchrist. “She designed and organized the experiment, rethought what she was doing when something didn’t work, and had the persistence and vision to work towards a distinct, and sometimes unclear goal.”

Fueled by a passion for research and the encouragement and opportunities she has encountered at Clarkson, Dietrich does plan to pursue a career in science. “I would eventually like to work in industry doing research on vaccines and treatments for diseases,” she explained. “I am also interested in the evolution of antibiotic resistance and would like to center my research around that topic.”

The award is one of three undergraduate scholarships distributed annually by the Entomological Foundation, a nonprofit, scientific and educational organization whose primary function is to promote and fund education and research in entomology.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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