Huntington awarded National Science Foundation fellowship

Grant recognizes and provides funding to outstanding graduate students
November 6, 2019

Taylor Huntington, a graduate student at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, was recently awarded a fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) for her research, which focuses on the role of astrocytic mitochondria in brain function.

Astrocytes have emerged as a major cell type in the brain, capable of regulating the activity of neurons, and their mitochondria are the “powerhouse” of the cell.

Huntington is pursuing her doctoral research at the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience (TAMIN) in the lab of Rahul Srinivasan, MBBS, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics.

“This award is the first of its kind in the College of Medicine program,” Srinivasan said. “By understanding how astrocytic mitochondria regulate the function of neurons, we will begin to discover how these mitochondria become dysfunctional during early stages of Parkinson’s disease. It is our hope that this research will help make inroads into new neuroprotective treatments for Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.”

According to the NSF website, the GRFP helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

The GRFP selects fellows every year from several tens of thousands of applications in all fields. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers.

The NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; to secure the national defense. With an annual budget of $8.1 billion, NSF is the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF in the major source of federal backing.

— Tim Schnettler