Trinity College Research Associate Professor Terri Williams recently was awarded a three-year, $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate the embryonic development of Tribolium, better known as the flour beetle. Williams received an NSF grant in 2013 to study segmentation in arthropods—a diverse group of animals that includes flies, shrimp, crabs, and spiders—whose basic body plan consists of several repeated segments.
Williams will study the Tribolium’s “segmentation clock,” which refers to the oscillating expression of genes that drive segment formation in the embryo. In her past research, Williams and her students found that the Tribolium segmentation clock oscillated at varying rates. The discovery of this anomaly underlies her latest research project, “Regulation of the Tribolium Segmentation Clock.”
This NSF grant was provided to Williams in collaboration with Lisa Nagy, a professor at the University of Arizona. A portion of the funding will be used to give Trinity students the opportunity to go to Arizona to conduct summer research.
Williams, a Trinity faculty member since 2010, focuses on providing each of her students with individual attention and comprehensive training when she works with them on research projects. Nicole Duan ’18 has been working with Williams since her sophomore year. “She doesn’t train all of her students the same way. She makes adjustments according to how each student works in the lab,” Duan said of Williams. “For me, every time I accomplish something, she gives me more responsibility. I feel like I have learned a lot over time.”