Monday, May 19, 2014

UI faculty members in the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary STudies (IBEST) have been awarded $570,085 in new competitive grants as part of the NSF BEACON Science and Technology Center on "Evolution in Action". These funds support ten projects involving twelve UI faculty members, three graduate students, four undergraduates, and and five postdoctoral researchers. Funding went to Dr.‘s James A. Foster, Peter Fuerst, Craig McGowan, Travis Hagey, Chris Marx, Tanya Miura, Scott Nuissmer, Barrie Robison, Deb Stenkamp, and Holly Wichman in Biological Sciences; and Robert Heckendorn and Terence Soule in Computer Science. UI has been awarded approximately $2.8 million through BEACON in the last five years.

The Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST) is an interdisciplinary research group at the University of Idaho focused on understanding the patterns and processes of evolution that occur over comparatively short periods of time. The hallmarks of IBEST research are the coupling of empirical and theoretical research, and a strong orientation toward rigorous testing of hypotheses. We place a high value on interdisciplinary collaborations that blend the expertise of biologists, biochemists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists, mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists to examine the underpinnings of evolutionary biology.! !

The BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action is a five institution consortium that includes the UI, Michigan State University, University of Washington, University of Texas at Austin, and North Carolina Ag and Tech. BEACON is an NSF Science and Technology Center founded with the mission of illuminating and harnessing the power of evolution in action to advance science and technology and benefit society. Research at BEACON focuses on biological evolution, digital evolution, and evolutionary applications in engineering, uniting biologists who study natural evolutionary processes with computer scientists and engineers who are harnessing these processes to solve real-world problems.

107 proposals were submitted and only 56 funded, a 52% success rate overall. Fifteen of these included UI faculty, of which 9 were funded. The proposal were peer reviewed with respect to nine different criteria, including intellectual merit, impact on institutional diversity, and educational impact. Funding decisions were made by the BEACON director, Prof. Erik Goodman (MSU), with the advice of the BEACON External Advisory Board which includes Prof. James A. Foster (UI, Biological Sciences). Prof. Foster is the director of the BEACON project at the University of Idaho.

For more information, please contact Prof. James A. Foster, the director of the UI BEACON program, at foster@uidaho.edu!

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