Two Northern Arizona University doctoral students have been awarded a combined $250,000 over the next three years to continue their research.

Lucy Mullin will receive $50,000 per year for the next three years to continue her research on seasonal water use and carbon sequestration in Southwestern ponderosa pine forests. Less than 5 percent of the 3,200 applicants received the Graduate Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded Robert Miranda a Star Fellowship of up to $37,000 per year for three years to study how environmental pollutants affect hormone-regulated vertebrate social behaviors and related gene expression in the brain.

Mullin’s research examines the relative importance of winter snow and summer rain for the growth of ponderosa pine, and how reliance on the two water sources is affected by restoration thinning treatments commonly used to decrease fire risk.

Mullin plans to finish her dissertation work under George Koch in the biology department and receive her graduate degree in 2013.

Doctoral biology student winners


Luke Evans $15,000
National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant

Cindy Liu $15,000
P.E.O. Scholar Award

Jennifer Ginther, Benjamin Jaffee and Lucy Mullin $7,000
ARCS Scholar Awards

“I work very hard, and it’s nice to feel that people think I am competent and the topics I’m researching are important,” Mullin said. “It is such a relief to know that for the next few years I can focus on my research.”

Miranda studies the impact of exposure to common endocrine disrupting chemicals on social behaviors and related gene expression in the brain, examining Western clawed frogs as a model species.

“In order to evaluate these impacts I use frog-calling behavior as a model system,” Miranda said. “Because the mechanisms regulating social behavior are conserved in vertebrates, my work has implications for other wildlife and humans who may be exposed to pollutants in the environment.”

The endocrine system is a network of glands and hormones that regulates many of the body’s functions, including growth, development and maturation by releasing hormones that act as natural chemical messengers