For younger researchers in the sciences and engineering and the universities in which they teach, few awards have as much impact as the National Science Foundation’s Early Career Development Award, or CAREER award, one of the most competitive and prestigious grants available to university faculty in the early stages of their careers. This year, thirteen professors including four from Arts & Sciences, have won the award for the University of Virginia, a record-breaking number for the University that places UVA first in the state for CAREER winners in 2022.
Evolution and the Environment
One aspect of evolution that’s still not fully understood is how it is affected by environmental factors like climate and the availability of resources, but the work of Alan Bergland may help answer some of those questions.
Bergland studies how fruit fly populations change over the course of the growing season in response to changes in the environment, an aspect of evolutionary biology called adaptive tracking. Since the species he studies have very short generation times, each one that is active and reproducing between the months of May and November experiences a different environment with different weather, resources, competitors and predators. Additionally, generations of fruit flies born late in the year must also be to survive the additional challenges winter brings.
NSF CAREER award winner Alan Bergland’s work with the common fruit fly could shed light on the impact climate change will have on evolution. (Photo: contributed photo)