Three UGA doctoral students have been named 2020 ARCS Scholars by the Office of Research. Alyssa Baugh, Katie Duval and Liju Mathew, all in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, will receive $8,000 each for the 2020-21 academic year.
Baugh, a Ph.D. candidate in microbiology, is investigating how to rewire the metabolism of a soil bacterium called Acinetobacter baylyi to allow it to break down into a compound called syringol. The target of Baugh’s project is to try to improve the affordability of biofuels.
“In the course of my project, I’m developing methods that can be used not just by me, but by other synthetic biologists, to more efficiently build ‘microbial factories’ with a wide breadth of functions,” said Baugh. “As a 2020 ARCS scholar, I’m excited to join a community of academics—not just at UGA but nationwide—dedicated to doing meaningful research and committed to scientific outreach and communication.”
Duval, who’s earning a Ph.D. in genetics, is thrilled to be able to continue her research on how chromatin, or DNA packaging, is established and regulated in early development.
“By better understanding how healthy chromatin is established, my research will enable future work to address chromatin regulation in disease,” Duval said. “I feel really lucky to be given the opportunity to benefit from the unique connections formed through the ARCS Foundation and honored to receive this scholarship to continue and enhance my research.”
Mathew, a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry and molecular biology, focuses his research on studying a pathway found in pathogenic Escherichia coli, which is responsible for degrading an essential host nutrient in order to acquire iron.
“Characterizing this pathway on a molecular level will shed light on how bacterial pathogens are able to survive in difficult environments and will pave the way for developing new therapeutics and antibiotics,” Liju said. “It is humbling to be recognized by such a prestigious organization, and being an ARCS scholar will allow me to work toward my long-term goal of focusing on microbial natural products and leveraging these compounds to combat dangerous pathogens.”
For the past 20 years, UGA has been a designated university of the ARCS Foundation. To address the country’s need for new scientists and engineers, the nonprofit foundation provides unrestricted funding to help the country’s brightest Ph.D. students create new knowledge and innovative technologies. To date, nearly 100 UGA students working in the sciences have received funding from the foundation totaling more than $1.4 million.