Grants-in-Aid of Research Award Recipient Profile: Simona Augyte

October 30, 2018

Sigma Xi’s Grants-in-Aid of Research program awards research grants to undergraduate and graduate students. Application deadlines are March 15 and October 1 annually.

Simona Augyte

Grant recipient:
Simona Augyte 

Grant awarded:
Spring 2015 application cycle

Education level at the time of receiving the grant:
PhD candidate 

Research Discipline: Physiology/Functional Morphology

Project results: 
The results of this project show that the endemic kelp is undergoing incipient speciation and is a population that is distinct from the regular sugar kelp, Saccharina latissima. The kelp was given a new name designation of Saccharina angustissima

How this project influenced her as a scientist: 
“It allowed me to delve into the field of molecular biology and answer intriguing questions about the evolution of kelps by the colonization of an extreme habitat. I also had a chance to do field work in remote parts of coastal Maine on islands and ledges exposed to high wave action. Overall, I am excited to continue researching marine macroalgae and the ecological parameters that shape their physiology and evolution.”

Where is she now? 
In 2017, Augyte received a PhD from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the same department and is working on kelp breeding and genetics for off-shore biomass production funded by the Department of Energy’s ARPA-e Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources program. She is also pursuing several other research projects that look at ecosystem services provided by sustainable aquaculture on near-shore environments. She and her collaborators published research that stemmed from her Sigma Xi-funded project in the Journal of Applied Phycology  in 2017 and in Phycologia  this year. 

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety