2015 Umbarger Outstanding Graduate Student
Bhagya Wijayawardena, a graduate student in Biological Sciences, has been selected to receive the 2015 H.E. Umbarger Outstanding Graduate Student Award. This highly competitive and prestigious award recognizes a student for their superb research career. Bhagya is co-advised by Professor Dennis Minchella in Biological Sciences and Professor Andrew DeWoody in Forestry and Natural Resources. Her work focuses on the evolutionary genomics of the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni and its hosts, and specifically targets transposable element dynamics of the genome and transcriptome of this trematode parasite. Her doctoral studies have already resulted in 5 publications including a first-authored comprehensive review paper on horizontal gene transfer between hosts and parasites that was voted a Top 10 article for 2013 by the editorial staff of Trends in Parasitology. Bhagya was also named a Bilsland Dissertation Fellow. This fellowship will support her as she completes her doctoral studies this year.