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Taufika Williams

The Molecular Education, Technology and Research Innovation Center (METRIC)

Senior Research Scholar, METRIC

2307 Plant Sciences Building


Taufika received her B.A. degree, double majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics, from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. She received her M.S. degree in Analytical Chemistry from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, under the guidance of Dr. R. Graham Cooks. Her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry was from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, in the laboratory of Dr. Bert C. Lynn. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship under the guidance of Dr. David C. Muddiman at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Following a six month tenure as Research Assistant Professor in the Muddiman Laboratory, Taufika spent ten years as the Director of the North Carolina State University Mass Spectrometry Facility. She is an expert in modern proteomics and small molecule mass spectrometry, with 20 years of relevant experience.


Kenan Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Chemistry NC State University 2008

Ph.D. Analytical Chemistry University of Kentucky 2005

M.S. Analytical Chemistry Purdue University 2002

B.A. Chemistry and Mathematics Transylvania University 1998


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Date: 04/01/99 - 5/31/17
Amount: $4,622,227.00
Funding Agencies: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Behavior supports the stage on which the interplay between the environment and the genome guides evolution. Behavioral adaptations to environmental cues determine survival and reproductive success. Among those environmental cues none are more important than chemical signals. Indeed, odor-guided behavior is essential for most organisms for food localization, avoidance of environmental toxins or predators, oviposition site selection, kin recognition, species recognition and mate selection, and reproduction. The long-term objective of this research program is to obtain a complete description of the genetic architecture that shapes odor-guided behavior in Drosophila melanogaster. This requires identification of all the genes that contribute to olfactory behavior, characterization of genetic interactions among them, and identification of polymorphisms that generate phenotypic variation in nature. The avoidance response to a repellent odorant, benzaldehyde, serves as a simple and convenient model for odor-guided behavior. Elimination of genetic variance by using controlled genetic backgrounds together with a rapid and quantitative behavioral assay that enables accumulation of large data sets through repeated measurements provides enough statistical power to reproducibly resolve not only large phenotypic effects, but also small smell impairments. The previous funding period achieved characterization of several previously identified smell-impaired (smi) genes at the molecular level. Extended screens identified an additional 79 candidate smi genes. Furthermore, recombination mapping, using a population of recombinant inbred lines, resulted in the discovery of a new highly polymorphic gene, Vanaso, that contributes to sex-specific phenotypic variation in olfactory behavior. The experiments proposed in this application build on the foundation established during the previous funding period. The specific aims of this proposal are: 1- To characterize a set of new smi genes in greater molecular detail; 2A - To identify gene products that are up-regulated or down-regulated in co-isogenic smi lines of Drosophila melanogaster as a consequence of P-element insertions at smi loci through the use of high density oligonucleotide microarrays; 2B - To quantitatively assess the contributions to odor-guided behavior of new candidate smi genes identified in Specific Aim 2A; 3 - To organize smi genes in epistatic networks; and, 4 -To perform association studies to identify polymorphisms in Vanaso and three odorant receptor genes that may contribute to phenotypic variation in olfactory avoidance response to benzaldehyde in natural populations. The completion of these specific aims will lead to a greater, more comprehensive understanding of the genetic architecture of olfactory behavior.

Date: 08/01/05 - 1/31/10
Amount: $104,122.00
Funding Agencies: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

This is an amended application of a previously submitted proposal for a Fogarty International Research Collaboration Award to extend the parent grant RO1GM59469-08 Molecular genetics of olfaction in Drosophila (4/1/03-3/31/08).

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