Three University of Michigan scientists have been selected as the first recipients of a new annual award, funded by President Mark Schlissel’s Biosciences Initiative, to recognize exceptional mid-career faculty in the biosciences.

The award is called MBioFAR, for Mid-career Biosciences Faculty Achievement Recognition. It provides discretionary funds — $250,000 per year for two years for each awardee — to encourage innovative, high-risk research.

“The MBioFAR awards recognize some of U-M’s most outstanding faculty — the mid-career researchers who are at the forefront of our university’s leadership in the biosciences,” Schlissel said. “I commend the awardees for their academic accomplishments, professional achievements and exceptional ongoing promise for future discovery.”

The inaugural MBioFAR awardees are:

Dana Dolinoy, professor of environmental health sciences and of nutritional sciences, and NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health

Dolinoy is a toxicologist who studies gene-environment interactions in development and in disease, focusing on the role of nutrition and toxicants on the epigenome. A recipient of the National Institutes of Health Director’s Transformative Research Award, she has made leading contributions to the mechanistic understanding of exposure levels and toxicity of both lead and the endocrine disrupter bisphenol A (BPA), and she is developing new technologies for targeted epigenome editing.

“I’d like to thank the University of Michigan for investing in biosciences and for recognizing all of the important and cool work that’s being done across the university in science,” Dolinoy said.

Aubree Gordon, associate professor of epidemiology and professor of global public health, School of Public Health

Gordon is a world leader in influenza epidemiology, focused on the dynamics of viral transmission in tropical countries. A National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow, Gordon’s epidemiological studies helped provide the data needed to optimize the timing of vaccination in Nicaragua and identified novel immunological findings that impact the design and testing of next-generation influenza vaccines.

She’s conducting studies on COVID-19 in children and across people’s lifespans, SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and immunity to SARS-CoV-2. She is an investigator with the Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Response.

“Giving these sorts of awards to mid-career faculty will really help them continue to do cutting-edge science and to become leaders in their field,” Gordon said.

Daniel Rabosky, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and associate curator at the Museum of Zoology, LSA

Rabosky is a highly influential ecologist and evolutionary biologist, focused on answering the question: What is responsible for the tremendous amount of biodiversity on Earth? To address that question, he develops novel statistical methods to understand the rates at which species form and go extinct.

In the field, Rabosky studies snakes and lizards in some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, including South American rainforests and Australian deserts. He is also a great communicator of science. His research group’s YouTube video about Amazonian spiders has received about 2.7 million views.

“This award provides a genuine opportunity to try new things and to seek new directions that we would not have been able to pursue otherwise. The MBioFAR program really drives home what a wonderfully supportive environment we have here as scientists at U-M,” Rabosky said.

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