2019 Grand Challenges in Biology Postdocs Announced

May 15, 2019

Caitlin Looby and Amanda Gorton look to tackle big questions around carbon cycling and urban ragweed distribution.

The College of Biological Sciences recently announced a new cohort of the College’s Grand Challenges in Biology Postdoctoral Program. Amanda Gorton and Caitlin Looby will join the College this summer to pursue research projects with faculty members from different departments across the University.

Gorton is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. She studies the ecology and evolution of plant populations with a focus on the impact of climate change and increasing urbanization on plants. For her project “Linking biology, math, health and economics: Understanding the causes and consequences of ragweed pollen distribution in urban areas,” Gorton will work with Allison Shaw (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS), Jesse Berman (Environmental Health Sciences, SPH) and Bonnie Keeler (Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, Humphrey School) to better understand the disbursement of urban ragweed populations, their impact on local health and ways to decrease pollen exposure.

Looby is a visiting scientist at Colorado State University. She received her Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of California, Irvine in 2017. For her project “How does nutrient fertilization alter the fate of carbon in a tropical dry forest” she will work with Jennifer Powers (Plant and Microbial Biology, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS) and Jessica Gutknecht (Soil, Water and Climate, CFANS) to better grasp what impact fertilization plays in impacting soil bacteria and fungi in dry tropical forests and their overall impact on carbon cycling in this ecosystem.