Newswise — BETHESDA, MD – The Genetics Society of America (GSA) is proud to name eight early-career scientists—four graduate students and four postdoctoral researchers—as Spring 2015 recipients of GSA’s DeLill Nasser Award for Professional Development in Genetics. The award provides a $1,000 travel grant for each recipient to attend any national or international meeting, conference, or laboratory course that will enhance his or her career. 


"These early career scientists are already making substantive contributions to genetics," said Adam P. Fagen, PhD, GSA's Executive Director. "We hope that this award will help them take the next step in their professional development, providing them with an important opportunity to learn and share their research—and to expand their network of colleagues."


The DeLill Nasser Award was established by GSA in 2001 to honor its namesake, DeLill Nasser (1929–2000), a long-time GSA member who provided critical support to many early-career researchers during her 22 years as program director in eukaryotic genetics at the National Science Foundation. The winners of the Spring 2015 DeLill Nasser Award and the conferences they will travel to (* indicates GSA conferences) are: 


Postdoctoral winners

Collin Ewald, PhD, Harvard Medical School, USA
Research focus: "I use the power of genetics in the model organism C. elegans to identify mechanisms that may enable long life and healthy aging."
Travel to: Oxidative Stress & Disease Gordon Research Conference
Principal Investigator: Keith Blackwell

Travis Johnson, PhD, Monash University, Australia
Research focus: "My work uses the fruit fly to understand how secreted molecules that govern critical processes during development are controlled."
Travel to: 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference*
Principal Investigators: James Whisstock and Coral Warr

Ivan Liachko, PhD, University of Washington, USA
Research focus: "My work has resulted in a method for assembling whole genomes of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms in microbial communities."
Travel to: 28th Fungal Genetics Conference*
Principal Investigator: Maitreya Dunham

Hansong Ma, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, USA
Research focus: "I study homologous recombination in Drosophila mitochondrial genomes."
Travel to: 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference*
Principal Investigator: Patrick O'Farrell


Graduate student winners

Robert Blake Billmyre, Duke University, USA
Research focus: "I study the genetics and genomics of fungal pathogens, particularly newly emerging or reemerging diseases, and the attributes that allow these diseases to cause outbreaks."
Travel to: 28th Fungal Genetics Conference*
Principal Investigator: Joseph Heitman

Justin Bosch, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Research focus: "I perform genetic studies of tissue growth and cell competition in Drosophila melanogaster."
Travel to: 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference*
Principal Investigator: Iswar Hariharan

Yee Lian Chew, University of Sydney, Australia
Research focus: "I studied a gene in nematodes that is similar to an Alzheimer's disease-associated gene in humans called Tau, and found that it affects aging of the brain in these animals as well as their longevity in both normal and stress conditions."
Travel to: 20th International C. elegans Meeting*
Principal Investigator: Hannah Nicholas

Kevin Schoenfelder, Duke University, USA
Research focus: "Many cells found throughout nature contain many extra copies of their genome, which is the blueprint for life, and I am studying how and why these extra copies are crucial for the construction of an organ in the fruit fly."
Travel to: 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference*
Principal Investigator: Donald Fox


GSA names recipients of the DeLill Nasser Award in two rounds per year. Applications are open to GSA members who are either graduate students or postdocs and who demonstrate excellence in genetics research, with an emphasis on productivity. Since the formation of this award in 2002, more than 100 researchers have received funding for travel to further their career goals and enhance their education. The program is supported by GSA, and with charitable donations from members of the genetics community. For more information about the DeLill Nasser Award, please see


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About the Genetics Society of America (GSA)

Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional scientific society for genetics researchers and educators. The Society’s more than 5,000 members worldwide work to deepen our understanding of the living world by advancing the field of genetics, from the molecular to the population level. GSA promotes research and fosters communication through a number of GSA-sponsored conferences including regular meetings that focus on particular model organisms. GSA publishes two peer-reviewed, peer-edited scholarly journals: GENETICS, which has published high quality original research across the breadth of the field since 1916, and G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, an open-access journal launched in 2011 to disseminate high quality foundational research in genetics and genomics. The Society also has a deep commitment to education and fostering the next generation of scholars in the field. For more information about GSA, please visit


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