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Biology student Kristen Irwin receives prestigious SURF grant

Dec. 8, 2008 -- Kristen Irwin of Jonesboro, an Arkansas State University biology major, has been awarded the prestigious Student Undergraduate Research FellowshipKristen Irwin, an ASU biology student, is this year's recipient of the prestigious Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) award given by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.(SURF) by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

The SURF program is designed to allow undergraduate students conduct in-depth research projects in their specific fields of study with the assistance of faculty mentors. Irwin will be working under the supervision of Dr. Aldemaro Romero, chair and professor of the Department of Biological Sciences at Arkansas State.

The title of the project is “Evolution of troglomorphic characters among hypogean fishes.” This research is aimed at comparing the development of characters usually associated with cave adaptation among hypogean (cave) fishes, such as the reduction of eyes, pigmentation, and scales.

Irwin will be testing whether or not those characters are reduced concurrently or are subject to different rates of evolution. She will be examining specimens of nearly 300 species of cave fishes from around the world.

Irwin is a distinguished senior student planning to graduate in spring 2009.  She is the recipient of the Governor’s Distinguished Scholar and the ASU Transfer Scholar awards. In addition, she has already published an article in a professional journal on the role played by women in the history of genetics and presented a paper on that subject at a regional conference.



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