Williams College Awarded $288,889 for Biology Research

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Feb. 27, 2001 — The National Science Foundation has awarded Williams College $288,889 in grant support for the research of Robert Savage, assistant professor of biology.

Savage studies development in annelids using genetic knowledge from ‘model’ systems such as the fruit fly. In two different species, he will characterize homologues or corresponding genes to prominent genes first identified in flies. This comparative work will provide new insights into how the annelid body pattern is formed and, more generally, the basis of morphological variation in animals.

“Our current understanding of how the animal body plan is established is based on data obtained from the fruit fly which is an ideal system for genetics but its developmental mechanisms are highly specialized and specific to insects,” said Savage. “The extent to which developmental mechanisms operating in the fly are conserved in other animals like annelids is unknown.”

Savage’s most recent scientific articles have appeared in the journals of Developmental Biology and Development, Genes and Evolution. He arrived at Williams in 1997 and has taught courses in cell, molecular, and developmental biology.

Since coming to Williams, Savage has spent part of each summer working with Berkshire County high school students in the HHMI Summer Program. This program awards local high school juniors a fellowship to study biological science at Williams College.

He earned his B.A. from Bowdoin College and his Ph.D. in Biology from Wesleyan University. Before coming to Williams he did his postdoctoral research in the neurobiology department at Harvard.