Sponsored by the United States Department of State, the Fulbright Program was designed to foster and strengthen relationships between scholars in the U.S. with those around the world. As a first-time applicant and winner of this highly prestigious award, Associate Professor of Biology Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert will serve as a visiting faculty member and researcher at the University of Warsaw Institute for Genetics and Biotechnology in Poland beginning next fall.
From September 2018 until June 2019, Edwalds-Gilbert will conduct research alongside Dr. Joanna Kufel, mentor and teach graduate students, give lectures on topics within advanced genetics, and teach pedagogy workshops for faculty at the university. Her project, titled, “Regulation of gene expression by mRNA translation in response to stress: Masters seminar and pedagogy workshops in molecular biology,” will explore the ways in which cells encounter and respond to stress in the environment. As Edwalds-Gilbert explains, cells successfully respond to stress through proper regulation during the steps of gene expression, including gene transcription, pre-mRNA alternative processing, mRNA modification, transport, and translation.
According to Edwalds-Gilbert, “regulation of translation after stress exposure is associated with many diseases, including cancer, and is also relevant to environmental stresses organisms face with climate changes.” Focusing specifically on how cells respond to changes in their environment under various stress conditions, her research will provide valuable insight into the regulation of gene expression. “As climate changes occur globally,” she explains, “organisms must adapt, and translational regulation is an essential part of the response to these changes.”
Following the end of the program, in the summer of 2019 Edwalds-Gilbert and Dr. Kufel plan to publish and present the results of their research. After six years as a full-time administrator, Edwalds-Gilbert is looking forward to returning to her role as a faculty member, saying, “this opportunity will be valuable for me as I reintegrate into research and teaching.”