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Pfizer Fellowship In Microbial Physiology Awarded To UW-Madison Student

Melanie Barker, a graduate student in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been awarded the Pfizer Fellowship in Microbial Physiology.

The three-year fellowship will cover Barker”s fees and tuition, while providing her with $3,000 a year in research support and an annual stipend competitive with fellowships from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

“The main purpose of the award is to support a student who is working on an aspect of microbial physiology that is important today in industry,” says Kim Stutzman-Engwall, a senior research investigator with Pfizer Central Research. “Our industry continues to have difficulty finding young scientists with this specialization.”

“Pfizer provides a UW-Madison student with the support because of the University”s strong program in microbiology,” says Timothy Donohue, a bacteriologist in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences who coordinates the fellowship. “Pfizer established the fellowship in 1993. Melanie is the third student to benefit from it.”

Barker is trying to understand a phenomenon called the “stringent response,” in which bacteria shift their metabolism when deprived of an amino acid. She is studying the mechanism controlling this response in the laboratory of bacteriologist Richard Gourse.