Clarkson University Biology Professor Susan Bailey Awarded Nearly $800,000 NSF CAREER Grant

May 9, 2023

Susan Bailey, an assistant professor of Biology at Clarkson University, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for her research aimed at understanding how microbes evolve in complex environments. The $798,662 grant, which began on May 1, will last five years.

headshot, Susan Bailey
Susan Bailey

CAREER awards are the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty and are awarded to pre-tenure faculty who have shown “potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”

Bailey’s award is the first of its kind to be awarded in Clarkson’s Biology Department. The funded project, titled “The effects of spatial structure and heterogeneity on local adaptation, diversification, and dispersal evolution: Experimental tests and statistical models,” will support both research and educational outreach.

“Most species live in complex and variable environments, and so understanding how that complexity might impact evolution is really important - but also difficult! Funding from this award will allow my research group to take a close look at the ways in which a complex environment can impact evolution by using controlled experiments with bacteria in the lab, as well as statistical models that focus on patterns of DNA sequence change,” Bailey said. “In the long term, our work has a number of important applications outside of the lab, including the potential for better predictions of future changes in rapidly evolving pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2.”

This award will provide support for both graduate and undergraduate students to do research in Bailey’s lab and will also allow for the development of related educational resources in evolution and bioinformatics to be used in biology courses at Clarkson, as well as a planned high school enrichment course through Clarkson’s Project Challenge.

“I’m very excited to be given this opportunity by NSF to do this important work. I look forward to growing my research program, while supporting students at Clarkson and within the community over the next five years,” Bailey said.

The award abstract can be found at

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