Graduate Student Katie Bultman Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Graduate student Katie Bultman has been awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship is awarded to individuals in the early stages of their graduate study, who intend to pursue research-based graduate studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Fellows are free to use their fellowship at any university, college, or non-profit academic institution of higher education accredited in, and having a campus located in, the United States, its territories, or possessions, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that grants a graduate degree in STEM fields.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) provides three years of financial support for graduate study.  It aims to keep the nation a global leader in advancing science and engineering research and innovation.  Recipients receive a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 education allowance from NSF, plus the UW-Madison Graduate School contributes toward fringe benefits.

“The NSF-Graduate Research Fellows Program is a highly competitive award that draws from student talent across the nation,” states Graduate School Dean William J. Karpus.  “The program leads to great outcomes.  Awardees not only benefit from the financial support of the fellowship, but also have the long-term benefit of becoming more competitive for future funding and gaining access to opportunities for research collaboration and professional development through NSF programs.”


Elucidating Biofilm Regulatory Mechanisms across the Vibrio fischeri Phylogenetic Tree

Symbiotic relationships between bacteria and their animal hosts are ubiquitous in nature. However, we have a limited understanding of the molecular communication between the bacteria and their hosts that facilitates specific and reproducible colonization. To directly study mechanisms underlying bacterial-host colonization, we focus on a model system in which the Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) light organ is colonized by one bacterial species, Vibrio fischeri.

My project will determine the regulators of biofilm formation in diverse isolates, focusing on the strain SR5, and identifying the evolutionary transitions in biofilm regulatory strategies across natural isolates of V. fischeri. The squid-Vibrio model allows for a unique perspective into symbiosis and the idea of beneficial bacteria.

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