Marshall McMunn receives an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology

Marshall McMunn received a 2018 NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology for his proposal to examine how temperature change affects bacteria that live within the gut of a desert ant. His abstract says, “Many animal guts contain bacteria that aid in digestion, but the bacteria within Cephalotes rohweri (the Arizona turtle ant) are unusual in two important ways 1) the bacteria help the ant acquire nitrogen, a key nutrient in growth and development, and 2) the bacteria survive extremely hot temperatures. The fellow will perform several experiments to determine if this bacterial community provides benefits to its ant host despite extreme heat exposure. The research improves scientific understanding of how animals can cope with a changing environment through shifts in their bacterial partners. The research broadly informs current industrial and commercial efforts to manipulate bacteria associated with animals and plants to improve food production. As a part of this research the fellow will develop a set of software tools to enable visually impaired scientists to interact with data through the sense of touch.” Marshall will be advised in this postdoc by Stacy Philpott (UC Santa Cruz) and Rachel Vanette (UC Davis).