PhD students wins fellowship from USDA

PhD student Ryan Bracewell was recently appointed a pre-doctoral fellowship through the US Department of Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The fellowship recognizes Bracewell’s research on bark beetle-fungal symbiosis with a $77,000 award.

Bracewell is examining how the western pine beetle interacts with two mutualistic fungi critical to the beetle’s success and survival. He uses next-generation DNA sequencing technology to conduct geographically comprehensive and genomically extensive analyses of the beetle and fungi. His results will lead to a more complete understanding of the evolutionary history and current genetic structure of these organisms and will help managers counter the pine beetle’s impact on ponderosa pine.   

Bracewell is studying with Professor Diana Six in the College of Forestry and Conservation and is also mentored by Professor Jeff Good in the Division of Biological Sciences.
Bracewell grew up in Colorado, has a B.S. in entomology from Colorado State University, and an M.S. in ecology from Utah State University, where he studied the evolution of reproductive isolation in the mountain pine beetle.

The USDA AFRI at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture funds research, education, and more to address key problems facing ranching, renewable energy, forestry, aquaculture, and other systems. In 2013, nearly $6 million will support research, education, and extension professionals in the food and agricultural sciences. The fellowship program works to develop the technical and functional competence of pre-doctoral students.