Grad Student Earns NSF Fellowship

More than 13,000 graduate students applied for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Seven of those selected represented The University of Alabama, three of those have ties to the College of Arts and Sciences, and one — Jordyn L. Johnson — is a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry.

Jordyn Johnson, originally from Chattanooga, Tenn., studies the regulatory mechanism of the enzyme alpha-isoproplymalate synthase in the lab of Dr. Patrick Frantom, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. This enzyme serves as a model system for the study of allosteric regulation, where enzyme activity is regulated by the reversible binding of an effector molecule. Regulatory mechanisms such as this allow organisms to respond to changes in their environments. A deeper understanding of these regulatory mechanisms would impact the growing fields of allosteric therapeutics and allosteric biosensors. While an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Johnson participated in the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program at UA where she began work on this project with Frantom.

Awards are up to $121,500 per fellowship and come with annual stipends to be used for research-based graduate studies. Fellowships were awarded to 2,000 students, about 15 percent of those who applied. According to the NSF, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program is part of its overall strategy to develop a globally engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation’s leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation.

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 Desktop News. View complete article.