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The endowment supports year-long fellowships for doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research in the area of Diversity of life and organisms in their natural environments. Funded by the Stengl-Wyer Endowment, fellowship recipients will receive a 12-month stipend of $34,000, full tuition and fees, staff health insurance, and an allowance of $2,000 to cover research and travel expenses. Learn more about the Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellows program by clicking here.



Kathryn Appler is a Marine Science Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Brett Baker's Lab, studying the diversity and ecological role of Asgard archaea. This microbial group contains the closest known extant relative to the archaeal host in eukaryogenesis. The origin of eukaryotes is a longstanding mystery that remains unresolved. As a Stengl-Wyer Fellow, she will begin unraveling this puzzle by identifying eukaryotic-like proteins from novel branches of this superphylum. This study will update current eukaryogenesis models by doubling the number of Asgard genomes and untangling encoded markers of higher complexity, providing clues for the origin of multicellularit




Erik Iverson studies the influence of mitochondrial genetics and physiology on many aspects of biodiversity and conservation. Using montane birds, freshwater fishes, and other organisms as study systems, Erik works with his mentor Justin Havird to investigate how coevolution between the nucleus and mitochondria affects climatic adaptation, speciation, and hybridization. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Erik received his B.S. and M.S. from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. He serves as Vice President of the local Pines and Prairies Land Trust, as well as on the scientific advisory board of the Alliance for a Sustainable Amazon in Peru.



Samantha Smith studies rodent vocal mechanisms in Steven Phelps' lab. In her dissertation research, she uses anatomical, physiological, and genomic methods to examine how one rodent species, singing mice, make their unique calls. As a Stengl-Wyer Fellow, she will use tag-based RNA-sequencing to understand how differences in throat musculature contribute to vocal differences among mouse species found across the southwestern US and central America.



Philip Souza is a Ph.D. candidate in the Simon Brandl - Fish and Functions Lab where he studies estuarine soundscapes. As a Stengl-Wyer Fellow, Philip will analyze underwater sound recordings to investigate spatiotemporal trends in soniferous (i.e., sound-producing) organism biodiversity and monitor the health of critical habitats in the Mission-Aransas Estuary in Texas. This research will inform the conservation of local biodiversity by providing valuable insight into the response of biological communities to natural and anthropogenic disturbances.