Hoover Fellowship

2020 Hoover Fellow: Emmi Mueller

Emmi Mueller is a third-year Ph.D. student in Professor Jay Lennon's lab, where she studies patterns of biodiversity. Her dissertation focuses on the mammalian gut microbiome, where she investigates how residence time (e.g., the time microorganisms spend in the gut and habitat structure (e.g., intestinal villi arrangement) shape microbial community structure and function. To test this, Emmi designs 3D-printed gut segments with varying levels of residence time and habitat structure. The Hoover Fellowship will allow her to spend the summer running experiments using these 3D-printed gut segments to investigate the role of residence time and habitat structure in the gut microbiome.

2020 Hoover Fellow: Kathleen Munley

Kathleen "Kat" Munley is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Professor Greg Demas's lab. For her dissertation, she is examining how the hormone melatonin, the body's physiological signal for photoperiod (i.e., day length), regulates seasonal changes in territorial aggression in Siberian hamsters. Kat's research uses a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates cutting-edge techniques from behavioral endocrinology, seasonal biology, and molecular and behavioral neuroscience to explore a novel neuroendocrine mechanism of aggression. She hopes her research will provide insight into how melatonin and steroid hormones may contribute to excessive or inappropriate aggression in humans.

Kat is also passionate about sharing her love of science with students and the greater Bloomington community. She is actively involved in mentoring programs, such as the NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program in Animal Behavior and the Jim Holland Summer Science Research Program; in science communication, by serving as a Copy Editor, Associate Editor, and Writer for the ScIU blog; and in outreach programs, such as Skype a Scientist and Science Fest.

The Hoover Fellowship will support Kat's expenses as she conducts the final study of her dissertation and publishes her research.

2020 Hoover Fellow: Melissa Proffitt

Melissa "Misty" Proffitt is a Ph.D. candidate in Associate Professor Troy Smith's lab, where she studies mechanisms that underlie sex differences in behavior and how these mechanisms differ between species. Specifically, her dissertation focuses on species variation in gene expression (for steroid hormone related genes, such as estrogen receptors and androgen receptors) in the brain, and how this variation in gene expression contributes to species variation in sexually dimorphic behavior in ghost knifefish.

Misty is very passionate about promoting participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in research. As a graduate student she has mentored several undergraduates, some through the CISAB summer REU program.

The Hoover Fellowship will support expenses related to writing and publishing her dissertation research.