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Julia Ganz Honored with NSF Early CAREER Award

Dr. Julia Ganz, assistant professor, was one of five recipients in the College of Natural Science to be honored with the award. It is given to faculty members who demonstrate leadership in research and education and have a passion for integrating the two.

“The award of five 2022 NSF CAREER awards to faculty in NatSci is a testament to the outstanding achievements and potential of young faculty across the college and continues the legacy of success in this competition,” said Phillip M. Duxbury, NatSci dean. “Congratulations to these exceptional faculty and to the units where they carry out their innovative research, teaching, and service programs.”

Julia studies the genetic role of neuronal development in the enteric nervous system (ENS), the system of neurons that regulates all gut functions. Although it is the largest part of the peripheral nervous system, very little is known about the generation of the different ENS cell types during development. To research this in vertebrates, Julia and her team will investigate the embryos of live zebrafish. With new knowledge from the study, she hopes to contribute to developing therapeutic approaches for ENS diseases.

“I am thrilled to receive this $1.72 million NSF CAREER award because it provides substantial support and freedom for my research program that will pave the way for a new research direction in my lab,” she said. “The specific question we aim to answer with this grant is whether the distinct gut parts use different genetic signals or if the factors used during development are the same along the whole length of the gut.”

The grant will support furthering both her research and educational goals. In addition to an interactive booth for the MSU Science Festival, she will develop an undergraduate course on CRISPR genome editing. Students who join her research program will also have opportunities for professional development.

Before joining MSU in 2016, Julia was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oregon. She received her Ph.D. in biology from Dresden University of Technology.

The article featuring Julia and the other four awardees can be found at: https://natsci.msu.edu/news/five-natsci-faculty-members-honored-with-nsf-early-career-awards/.