Gustafson Award Recipients

Kick with his Ph.D. advisor, David Schulz.

Kick with his Ph.D. advisor, David Schulz.

2019 Recipient – Daniel Kick

Kick is a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. David Schulz lab in the Division of Biological Sciences. His research deals with understanding the coupling between neurons and how this affects network output, especially in the face of change. Specifically, his work seeks a better understanding of how neuron coupling is affected by activity, how neurons compensate for disruptions over the short and longer term, and how networks can be remodeled when a portion of it goes awry. With these questions answered, science will have a better understanding of how a neural network maintains appropriate output despite constant changes and where it has failed in instances of pathology.

Beyond this, Kick is the full package, having maintained a strong academic record, a strong and growing publication record, while also being involved a variety of additional activities, including mentoring of undergraduate students, serving as a teaching assistant, as well as participating in a variety of leadership roles. His research mentors emphasized his research talent and experience, not only as a biologist but his computational skills, independence, intellect, and overall character.

Jon Cody and J. Perry Gustafson

2018 Recipient – Jon Cody

Cody is a doctoral candidate in the Division of Biological Sciences. He is carrying out his doctoral research in the lab of Dr. James Birchler, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences. The Birchler lab is well known for engineering mini chromosomes for maize. For his doctoral research, Cody has been working out the technical aspects of how to reliably and efficiently add large pieces of DNA onto this promising new technology. Dr. Birchler said that Cody has made “astounding success” with this technically difficult project and also said Cody’s research will represent “a spectacular leap forward in the development of plant artificial chromosomes.”

In the process of figuring out how to stack genes onto minichromosomes, Cody developed a new technique for performing genetic transformations of plants in a site-specific manner. His approach is expected to improve greatly both the efficiency and accuracy of the process and thus have an enormous impact on the field. “This will be a great boon to the development of modified crops and revolutionize crop plant transformation.”

At the time of the award, Cody had nine publications in leading scientific journals, including two first-author papers. He recently presented his research at the 50thAnnual Maize Genetics Conference in Saint-Malo, France. He also has demonstrated a keen interest in and record of sharing his knowledge and expertise with fellow researchers as well as the public and was a participant and mentor in Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders in Science program.