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Biology Project Receives $150,000 in NSF Funding

RELEASED: Sept. 24, 2009

Dr. Derek Gingerich
Dr. Derek Gingerich

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Derek Gingerich, assistant professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The grant was made possible by federal stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has provided some unexpected additional grant opportunities this year," said Dr. Karen Havholm, assistant vice chancellor for research at UW-Eau Claire. "Dr. Gingerich's award was the first project at UW-Eau Claire to be funded by the stimulus dollars. The funding enhances faculty scholarship and provides additional opportunities for students to engage in research."

The funds, which will be distributed over three years, will be used to continue Gingerich's research related to how plants respond to light. Gingerich said the research will be of particular interest to the agriculture field.

"Shade responses are important in agriculture, as shading can reduce agronomic performance by increasing lodging (falling over) or decreasing yield," Gingerich said. "The information obtained in this project may help guide future work on light responses in crop plants."

In his project, "RUI: Analysis of the Role of a Family of Putative E3 Ubiquitin-Ligase Target Adapters in Phytochrome Signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana," Gingerich and a team of student researchers will build on Gingerich's previous work involving the role of two specific genes in light responses.

The earlier research found that the two genes — LRB1 and LRB2 — have roles in light responses, Gingerich said. Plants with disruptions of these two genes are more shade tolerant, a result of increased sensitivity to red wavelength light, he said. The exact molecular roles of LRB1 and LRB2 in red light responses are unclear, however, and this grant will fund research to determine precisely how these genes act in that response, Gingerich said.

Gingerich will involve undergraduate students in his research, providing them with valuable research experience.

For details about the grant, contact Dr. Derek Gingerich at 715-836-4415 or gingerdj@uwec.edu.

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JB/JP

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