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MSU’s Martinez-Gomez Gets 2018 NSF CAREER Award

N. Cecilia Martinez-Gomez

Cecilia Martinez-Gomez, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, Michigan State University, received $562,102 from NSF’s Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences for her project that aims to describe the extent to which rare earth elements drive novel cellular functions. Results from this research will lead to technological improvements of biological platforms that already serve for production of biofuels and bioplastics and will expand efforts into developing biomining and biostimulants platforms, transforming both the energy and agricultural industries. The project will also allow for training of both graduate and undergraduate students, as well as postdocs.

Martinez-Gomez is one of six Michigan State University College of Natural Science (NatSci) women scientists to receive National Science Foundation (NSF) Early CAREER Faculty Awards in 2018. The occasion, which marks the first time that six NSF Early CAREER Awards have been given to a single college—and to six women faculty members in the same year—is unprecedented at MSU. The five-year (2018-2023) grants collectively total more than $3.6 million.
The CAREER Award is one of NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early career faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

“The day they called to let me know about the award, I was so thrilled; it was actually on my birthday!” Martinez-Gomez said. “It validated that this emergent area is as intriguing and exciting for other researchers as it is for me. For my team, it has been a boost in our motivation to achieve our goals. Every day in the lab we learn something new about these metals, both regarding the basic research aspect of it and when developing new technologies.”

Before coming to MSU in 2015, Martinez-Gomez received her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009 under the mentorship of Diana Downs. She also completed postdoc work at the University of Washington in the Department of Chemical Engineering mentored by Mary Lidstrom.

  • Val Osowski via the College of Natural Science website

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