Hope College junior Claire Schaar of Fremont is one of only 15 undergraduate students attending colleges or universities in the United States and Canada to receive a Travel Award from the Genetics Society of America (GSA) to attend the 20th International C. elegans Meeting to present research findings.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday-Sunday, June 24-28, at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Schaar, who is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, will present her research examining the relationship between aging and the electron transport chain in the mitochondria of C. elegans.  She conducted the research last summer and is working again this summer with Jeremy Van Raamsdonk of the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids.

The GSA Undergraduate Travel Awards are among several awards made by the GSA to early career researchers. Applicants must be GSA members, and successful applicants may use their funds to support travel to one of GSA’s conferences on genetics research in a variety of model organisms.

“We are always delighted to help further the careers or our undergraduate members, by providing them with an opportunity to present their research to an international audience,” noted Adam Fagen, executive director of the GSA. “We look forward to hearing more about their findings at the ‘worm meeting’ this summer.”

The biannual C. elegans meeting brings together more than 1,700 scientists conducting cutting-edge research on a diverse array of topics from neurobiology to genomics, aging to ecology. Meeting attendees generally conduct research using the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, a model organism that lends itself to easy investigation where findings can be easily translated to humans. C. elegans emerged as a common system of study in the 1960s and 1970s because of the ability to understand the position of every cell in the body and how they are connected to each other. Later, C. elegans was the first animal to have its complete genome sequenced, paving the way for the subsequent completion of the human genome. Research conducted in C. elegans has been the subject of at least three Nobel Prizes awarded in the last 15 years.

Founded in 1931, the GSA is the professional scientific society for genetics researchers and educators. The society’s more than 5,000 members worldwide work to deepen understanding of the living world by advancing the field of genetics, from the molecular to the population level. GSA promotes research and fosters communication through a number of GSA-sponsored conferences including regular meetings that focus on particular model organisms. GSA publishes two peer-reviewed, peer-edited scholarly journals: “Genetics,” which has published high quality original research across the breadth of the field since 1916, and “G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics,” an open-access journal launched in 2011 to disseminate high-quality foundational research in genetics and genomics. The society also has a deep commitment to education and fostering the next generation of scholars in the field.

More information about GSA is available at genetics-gsa.org. More information about the GSA Undergraduate Travel Awards, including criteria and previous winners, is available at genetics-gsa.org/awards/undergraduate_awards.shtml.