News Archive

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 

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.