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Sarah Unruh awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

April 3, 2014

Image of Sarah Unruh standing in the Tucker Greenhouse near orchidsBiological Sciences graduate student Sarah Unruh has been awarded a three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Unruh, a first-year Ph.D. student, is advised by Associate Professor J. Chris Pires.

Unruh’s research focuses on the evolution of orchids. Orchids rank among the most successful and species-rich family of flowering plants, with over 25,000 species worldwide. This speciation has given rise to a number of novel traits, including the extraordinary and diverse flower shapes and sizes for which orchids are well known and coveted. Using next generation sequencing and bioinformatic technologies, Unruh is recreating the evolutionary steps that gave rise to this diversification. She is particularly interested in evaluating the contribution of whole genome duplication (polyploidy) and duplicate genes to the creation of new traits.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is a highly competitive federal fellowship program. It recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. This year, 14,000 graduate students applied, and NSF awarded 2000 fellowships.

Unruh received her bachelor of science degree from the University of Missouri in 2013.

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Written by: Melody Kroll

Related research strengths:
Evolution, Genetics & Genomics, Plant Biology, Quantitative & Computational Biology
Related categories:
Awards, Graduate Studies