June 30, 2021

Wormland Receives Research Support

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Greg Hermann, Professor of Biology, a $549,879 grant in support of his research. This three-year project, “RUI: Investigating the pathways and regulation of lysosome-related organelle biogenesis”, will be supported by the Facilitating Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions program. This competitive NSF program supports “PUI faculty in research that engages them in their professional field(s), builds capacity for research at their home institution, and supports the integration of research and undergraduate education.” In addition to directly supporting nine Lewis & Clark students conducting full-time research during the summers in Dr. Herman’s laboratory, each year 24 undergraduates in Dr. Hermann’s upper division Cell Biology course will engage in this collaborative, investigative, and original research.

Building on Dr. Hermann’s prior transformative research with students, this proposed project will discover how intracellular compartments are formed in specific cells during embryonic development. Lysosome-related organelles (LROs) are important subcellular compartments that function in various cellular processes, including body pigmentation and blood clotting. Little is currently known about how the trafficking pathways that form LROs emerge during cell differentiation, the route that these delivery pathways take through a cell, and how these pathways are regulated to control LRO number and size. The Hermann Lab is analyzing the biogenesis of C. elegans LROs (called gut granules) to understand LRO formation pathways. These studies will provide novel cellular and genetic insights into the processes involved in creating a new cellular compartment during differentiation in a living and developing embryo.

Significantly, since 2002, Dr. Hermann’s research has been supported continuously by external, competitive grants. This includes three research grants from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, a multi-year award from the National Institutes of Health, an American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology HOPES Award, two National Science Foundation equipment grants, and now five National Science Foundation research grants. Dr. Hermann’s continuous efforts and success in securing competitive external funding has had a significant impact at Lewis & Clark and on our students. In fact, over the years, these grants have supported more than 70 undergraduates engaged in meaningful research in the Hermann laboratory.