James L. Carmon Scholarship Award 2008
Xiaojia Tang, a doctoral candidate in physics and astronomy, is already a coauthor on three major papers that explain the functioning of biological clocks in governing the behavior of living organisms. Despite the importance of these mechanisms, their molecular underpinnings remained a mystery until last year, when a team of UGA researchers explained how three genes in Neurospora crassa—bread mold—make biological clocks tick. Tang’s main contribution was to adopt and implement an approach from statistical physics, called the ensemble method, which identified working models of the clock. She is now investigating how to expand her working model to demonstrate temperature compensation: the clock’s ability to tell the correct time in both hot and cold.