Assistant professor Penelope Higgs has received a prestigious CAREER Award from the NSF
Assistant Professor Penelope Higgs has received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award from the National Science Foundation.
NSF makes these five-year awards "in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research." Dr. Higgs' career award will fund "a CURE for signaling networks in multicellular bacteria." Her research group examines the multicellular bacteria myxococcus xanthus to investigate the molecular mechanisms controlling dormant cell differentiation and community formation in bacteria.
The funded project will elaborate the network of signaling systems that coordinate differentiation within the bacterial community. The research incorporates a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in which undergraduate students will perform genetic screens to identify and then characterize proteins involved in the signaling network.
Dr. Higgs joined the Department of Biological Sciences in 2013 following 8 years at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany. She earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences from Washington State University and did postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley.