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John Karro receives NSF CAREER grant


John Karro
John Karro, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering and microbiology at Miami University, has been recognized as one of the nation's top young faculty in his field by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the award of a CAREER grant from the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program. He will receive more than $588,000 of research funding over five years.

The grant supports Karro’s project, “The de novo discovery of transposable elements for the study of neutral substitution rate variation in plant genomes.” Karro will develop software designed to aid biologists in understanding genomic evolution, specifically focusing on transposable elements. Transposable elements — sequences of DNA that move from one location in the genome to another — are one of the key data sources for studying evolutionary processes at the genomic level, explains Karro.

“About half our DNA is comprised of just these repetitive copies,” he notes, “and a large portion of them serve little biological purpose, but serve as a historical record of genomic evolution.”

He will develop algorithms to help improve the discovery of transposable elements. The grant includes funding for two graduate students per year during the five-year period. Karro will also create an introductory computer science course specifically targeted to biologists and help develop a bioinformatics module for a course at Berea College in Kentucky — a tuition-free college that exclusively serves economically disadvantaged students.

Karro joined Miami in 2007. He received his doctorate in computer science in 2000 from the University of Virginia. He was assistant professor of computer science at Oberlin College from 2000 to 2003, was a Postdoctoral Fellow in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University from 2002 to 2004 and was a research associate in biology at Pennsylvania State University from 2004 to 2007.

According to the Foundation, The NSF CAREER Award is one of the organization's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”


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