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      Science Fellowship News

      Biology Professor is Next Cynthia H. Sarnoski Science Faculty Fellow

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      Cynthia H. Sarnoski Science Faculty Fellowship Awarded

      From left, Widener Trustee Cynthia Sarnoski '74, Biology Professor David Coughlin and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Sharon Meagher.

      Biology Professor Dr. David Coughlin has been named Widener University's third Cynthia H. Sarnoski Science Faculty Fellow. The two-year fellowship, which begins July 1, will allow Coughlin to conduct research with undergraduate students on "Climate Change and Aquatic Environments: Fish Swimming, Muscle Function and Gene Expression."

      Coughlin's study proposes to use functional, physiological and cutting edge genetic techniques to understand how climate change might affect the fitness of economically relevant fish species. He was selected through a competitive process that included a panel of external reviewers working with Dr. Fran Weaver, associate dean of science.

      Coughlin proposed to assess the thermal acclimation response of various fish species when exposed to changing temperatures associated with climate change. He and his students will conduct experiments in an effort to answer three questions: 1) How will increasing temperatures in aquatic habitats resulting from climate change affect fish health and swimming performance? 2) How is muscle function affected by shifts in the thermal environment? 3) How do changes in gene expression explain variations in swimming performance and muscle function in the target fish species?

      The Sarnoski Fellowship will provide financial support for undergraduate research assistants and pay for experiments. Widener students will be recruited to work on all aspects of the project. The experience will train them in cutting-edge research techniques to prepare them for post-graduation career paths.

      "Dr. Coughlin's research project provides a wonderful experience for Widener students to strengthen skills they will use in their careers. Its timely connection to issues of climate change makes it even more impressive," said Sarnoski '74, who is a member of the university Board of Trustees.

      Coughlin has experience mentoring students in his labs and has co-presented and co-published with students. The Sarnoski Fellowship will allow him to continue his research and support more students in undergraduate research beyond the classroom.

      "I am very grateful to Trustee Sarnoski for her support of this fellowship, which will allow me to advance my research into new areas," Coughlin said. "I will also be able to engage undergraduate students in a wide range of projects, providing cutting-edge training in the study of form and function relationships in animals. I look forward to getting started this summer."

      "This fellowship is yet another example of how Dr. Sarnoski generously supports her alma mater," Widener President Dr. Julie E. Wollman added. "In addition to her financial gifts, she gives a great deal of her time to support university programs that promote student growth, like alumni mentoring and working with the summer research symposium – all in addition to her duties as a trustee. I am grateful for her support of this fellowship, and for all the ways she invests in Widener's success."


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