Newswise — BETHESDA, MD – March 21, 2012 -- The Genetics Society of America (GSA) and the Drosophila community are pleased to announce the nine award recipients for their poster presentations at the 53rd Annual Drosophila Research Conference held March 7-11, 2011 in Chicago, IL.

Poster awards were presented to scientists at three career stages: undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers. Each category offered a first prize for $500, second for $300 and third for $200. “The poster awards are just one way that we highlight the contributions of early-career researchers, recognizing these talented individuals not only for their science, but on the effective communication of their results,” said Adam Fagen, Ph.D., executive director of GSA. “We look forward to following the careers of these students and postdocs and expect great things as they continue in science.”

“Winning a poster award is a true honor,” said Elizabeth Gavis, Ph.D., past president of the Drosophila community’s Board of Directors. “Although the poster presenters span all career stages, these awards are designated specifically for students and postdocs and recognize the intellectual and experimental contributions of the winners as well as their ability to convey their research to other scientists,” she added.

The nine recipients of the awards were selected from among 500 student and postdoc posters, which represent more than half of the nearly 1,000 poster presentations at the conference. The awardees, research institution, poster titles and principal investigators (PI) who worked with them are listed below.

Undergraduate Awardees:

1st Place: Kathryn Landy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ Poster Title: Chromosome axis proteins regulate synapsis and recombination in female meiosis (#322) PI: Kim S. McKim, Ph.D. 2nd Place: Balint Z. Kacsoh, Emory University, Atlanta, GeorgiaPoster Title: High hemocyte load is associated with increased resistance against parasitoids in Drosophila suzukii, a relative of D. melanogaster (#459) PI: Todd A. Schlenke, Ph.D. 3rd Place: Mickey Buckingham, University of Oxford, United KingdomPoster Title: Survival motor neuron protein-enriched U bodies respond to nutrient stress in Drosophila (#816) PI: Ji-Long Liu, Ph.D.

Graduate Awardees:

1st Place: Jimok Yoon, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, DallasPoster Title: Disassembling F-actin networks in vivo through manipulations of mical and actin bundling proteins (#657) PI: Jonathan R. Terman, Ph.D.

2nd Place: Qing Shih, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, DallasPoster Title: The Hedgehog-induced smoothened conformational switch activates fused kinase by promoting its dimerization and phosphorylation (#204) PI: Jin Jiang, Ph.D.

3rd Place: Julie Tan, University of Toronto, Ontario, CanadaPoster Title: PI4KIIIα is required for cortical integrity and cell polarity (#566) PI: Julie Brill, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researchers:

1st Place: Young-Jun Kim, Ph.D., National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MarylandPoster Title: Drosophila Neto is essential for clustering of glutamate receptors at neuromuscular junction (#688) PI: Mihaela Serpe, Ph.D.

2nd Place: Maria Teresa Abreu-Blanco, Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington Poster Title: Dynamics of the Rho family small GTPases in single cell wound repairs (#240) PI: Susan M. Parkhurst, Ph.D.

3rd Place: Rebecca Fox, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland Poster Title: The bHLH protein, Sage, provides tissue specificity to FoxA/Fork head (#568) PI: Deborah J. Andrew, Ph.D.

To read the abstracts for these posters, go to and search by the program number following the titles.

ABOUT THE GSA DROSOPHILA RESEARCH CONFERENCE: At least 1,500 researchers attend the annual GSA Drosophila Research Conference to share the latest research using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and other insect species. Many findings from these model organisms have broad application for the study of human genetic traits and diseases. For more information about the conference, see

ABOUT GSA: Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional membership organization for scientific researchers, educators, bioengineers, bioinformaticians and others interested in the field of genetics. Its nearly 5,000 members work to advance knowledge in the basic mechanisms of inheritance, from the molecular to the population level. The GSA is dedicated to promoting research in genetics and to facilitating communication among geneticists worldwide through its conferences, including the biennial conference on Model Organisms to Human Biology, an interdisciplinary meeting on current and cutting edge topics in genetics research, as well as annual and biennial meetings that focus on the genetics of particular organisms, including C. elegans, Drosophila, fungi, mice, yeast, and zebrafish. GSA publishes GENETICS, a leading journal in the field and a new online, open-access publication, G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics. For more information about GSA, please visit Also follow GSA on Facebook at and on Twitter @GeneticsGSA.