• Emily Dennis
  • PNI postdoc Emily Dennis selected as a 2019 Hanna Gray Fellow

    HHMI Awards $1.4 Million Each to 15 Hanna Gray Fellows to Support Diversity in Science

    Dennis works with Carlos Brody, the Wilbur H. Gantz III ’59 Professor of Neuroscience. Her work investigates the differences between species commonly used in research in order to gain understanding of biology and disease. Dennis is studying rats and mice to learn how their brains can solve similar problems and produce comparable behaviors. Her work will help scientists better translate findings across species, with the long-term goal of improving the study of human diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, in animal models.  
    “HHMI is committed to supporting people who will solve some of the greatest problems in science,” says Erin O’Shea, the president of HHMI. “To do this we need people from all backgrounds – the best solutions will be found by a diverse set of people.”
    The Hanna Gray Fellows come from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in the life sciences. These scientists are poised to make significant contributions to science in the years to come, O’Shea says, and are all original thinkers with diverse perspectives. HHMI will support these young scientists at a critical time in their academic careers – when they transition from postdoctoral researchers to principal investigators and begin to set up labs of their own.
    Carlos Brody says, "Emily developed a fascinating comparative neuroscience project, contrasting cognitive processing by neural circuits of rats versus that of mice. She reasoned that these two species are close enough in their ecological niche that comparisons could be direct and quantitative; yet in terms of evolutionary history the two species are very far apart, making the comparisons very meaningful. This is an example of Emily's phenomenal ability to spot where the most interesting yet feasible work can be done. I am not surprised she got this prestigious award, she fully deserves it!"

    About the Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program

    The Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program is named for Hanna Holborn Gray, former chair of the HHMI trustees and former president of the University of Chicago. Under Gray’s leadership, HHMI developed initiatives that foster diversity in science education. HHMI continues to carry forward this work on college and university campuses across the US.
    The Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program represents HHMI’s commitment to supporting talented early-career scientists who have the potential to become leaders in academic research. This program will ultimately invest up to $100 million in up to 60 young scientists. By selecting individuals from groups underrepresented in the life sciences, HHMI seeks to increase diversity among academic faculty. Fellows’ successful careers will inspire future generations of scientists from America’s diverse talent pool.