The Eppley Foundation for Sciences awards Kaitlyn Murphy from the Department of Biological Sciences $19,000 grant
Kaitlyn Murphy, a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the recipient of a $19,000 seed grant from the Eppley Foundation for Research.
For Murphy, research has always been a driving factor for her career aspiration.
In high school, she began working with zookeepers at the Omaha Zoo. Murphy participated in a program for high school students, the Turtle Camp Research and Education in Ecology, or TREE program.
She attended Iowa State University and in 2018 graduated with her bachelor’s degree in biology.
These opportunities for fieldwork strengthened Murphy’s desire to pursue a career in research.
“This grant provides me with the ability to conduct DNA sequencing and analysis of data,” Murphy said. “I would not be able to do this work if not for the generous funding through the Eppley Foundation.”
Her research project, Maternal and environmental effects on the offspring microbiome: Ecological and evolutionary implications in an egg-laying lizard, looks at how environmental variations impact microbiota or the microorganisms found in specific habitats of the brown anole lizard. This research could provide insight on specific traits impacting overall health and behavior.
She conducts research in the Warner Lab with Dan Warner, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, at Auburn University. Each year, the Warner Lab travels to Palm Coast, Florida, to conduct experiments and collect samples.
"I’m very excited about Kaitlyn’s research," explained Warner. "Her PhD research is taking a very integrative approach for understanding the sources and the consequences of the eggshell microbiome in reptiles. For example, her work combines field and laboratory studies that will provide new insights into how the maternal environment influences the bacterial communities on eggs, and how that in turn affects the development and survival of offspring. I have been incredibly impressed by how much Kaitlyn has already accomplished. She has designed and implemented several important studies, and she is using several novel approaches that will certainly advance her area of study. In addition, she has been very independent and has learned several new techniques that are outside of my area of expertise. These funds from the Eppley Foundation for Research will be especially important for her molecular work, which is needed to characterize the bacterial communities that reside on the eggshells. I am very much looking forward to Kaitlyn’s discoveries!"
In the field, Murphy will be able to learn more about the diets of the lizards and their habitat type. She will also conduct research to determine if transfer occurs between the mother and her direct offspring.
Once Murphy graduates with her doctorate degree, she wants to continue to conduct research and teach future generations.