UW Environment is pleased to announce that Yaamini Venkataraman and Laura Spencer, both Ph.D. students in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, are recipients of the 2017 Hall Conservation Genetics Research Award. The fund is made possible by a generous gift from the Benjamin and Margaret Hall Charitable Lead Trust.

Aquatic and Fishery Sciences' Yaamini Venkataraman
Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ Yaamini Venkataraman

Yaamini Venkataraman

Yaamini’s work broadly focuses on the effects of environmental stressors, including ocean acidification and warming, on shellfish. She’s part of Professor Steven Roberts’ lab and is working in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources in studying the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, and its response to environmental change in and out of eelgrass beds.

Her project is called “Characterization of Physiological Effects of Multiple Stressors and Identification of Biomarkers for the Pacific Oyster, Crassostrea gigas.”

Aquatic and Fishery Sciences' Laura Spencer
Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is also part of the Roberts Lab, where she seeks to perform applied research to provide useful knowledge for shellfish aquaculture and restoration communities, with the express interest of maintaining affordable, delicious shellfish on our tables and shorelines.

Her project is called “Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of environmental stress response in Ostrea lurida.”

Hall Conservation Genetics Research Award

The Hall Conservation Genetics Research Award was established specifically for College of the Environment students working in the field of conservation genetics. Students and faculty advisors are asked to demonstrate how the requested funding will be used to develop a new student-directed project, or support a student-directed extension of a project in which the student is already engaged. The project must be entirely accomplished within the funding year, and a scholarly research product (e.g., manuscript submitted to peer-reviewed journal, presentation at a national or international scientific society conference) must result from the work.

Proposals are limited to a maximum of $6,000. The proposals were reviewed by faculty scientists who are experts in conservation genetics, and by faculty who are not experts in the field but who are natural scientists. Reviewers scored each proposal on:

  • Impact, innovation and significance to the field
  • Impact on the thesis or dissertation work of the student
  • Likelihood of successful completion

About the Funders

During his 38 years in genetics, UW Professor Emeritus of Genome Sciences and Biology Benjamin (“Ben”) Hall made many key discoveries, including the patented invention “Expression of Polypeptides in Yeast” which the UW-licensed for the production of vaccines against Hepatitis B Virus and Human Pappiloma Virus, as well as Human Insulin and other recombinant proteins. Hall’s more recent research has focused on understanding the speciation and evolution in the genus Rhododendron. Margaret Hall received her Ph.D in History from the UW, doing important thesis work on women in academia, and subsequently devoting herself to teaching.

More about the Hall Conservation Genetics Research Award »