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Taylor Allen looks through a microscope at a few thousand Caenorhabditis elegans worms. Here's some of what he sees through this and other micoscopes.





Taylor Allen: Still Looking at Worms--with New NSF Grant to Fund His Research on Muscle Function

By Gail Taylor


JUNE 8, 2000--Oberlin student researchers soon will have the chance to help shape scientists' understanding of how muscles work, thanks to a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) career grant to Taylor Allen, assistant professor of biology. The first grant year is funded at $188,519.

The NSF's Faculty Early Career Development grants are intended to encourage faculty members at the start of their careers to integrate research and teaching.

The funding, to begin July 1, will allow Allen to buy equipment and will provide support for student research assistants. Three rising seniors--Matt Merrins, from Boston, New York; James Priest, from Portland, Oregon; and Kathleen Rankin, from Perkasie, Pennsylvania--will write honors theses based on the research, and Allen will include related lab work in several of his courses.

The focus of the research is the intracellular switching mechanism that causes muscle cells to contract and regulates the speed and strength of the contractions.

Almost all skeletal and cardiac muscles--from those in worms and mollusks to those in mice and humans--use the same switching mechanism. Allen's research explores the details of the switching process in the cells of small worms called Caenorhabditis elegans.





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