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“Receiving the Peralta award was a pleasant surprise. It is a particular honor because ‘the competition’ – my classmates – are a talented and formidable bunch.   It was also nice to receive such a strong affirmation of my research question and method of approach.” — Amy Jordan

The Ernest Peralta Fund Award for 2003-04 was given to Amy Jordan, a graduate student in the laboratory of Nancy Kleckner, Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Biology, for her study of the structural features of meiotic recombination using the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

In describing her work, Amy explains, “Meiotic recombination culminates in the formation of chiasmata, which are cytologically observable connections between homologues that correspond to the site of a reciprocal crossover.   During meiotic exchange, sister chromatids are aligned as linear arrays of loops that are joined at their bases by a continuous structural axis.   Exchange at the DNA/chromatin level is accompanied by exchange of this axis. Paradoxically, the double-stranded breaks (DSB) that initiate meiotic recombination occur in sequences located organizationally near loop-tips, but the recombination machinery is observed cytologically on the underlying axes. This suggests that loop sequences come into contact with the axis at some early time in the exchange process.

“The goal of my work is to analyze physical associations between DSB- and axis-associated sequences during early recombination.   Specifically, I would like to determine when, relative to the occurrence of meiotic DSBs, does the loop contact the axis, and where along the loop relative to the DSB site is axis contact established.”

Each year the Earnest Peralta Award recognizes the work of a graduate student in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, to honor Ernie Peralta, a faculty member in MCB who died of cancer in 1999.   The prize, awarded to the most outstanding preliminary thesis proposal from a G2 student, is determined by the Graduate Committee in consultation with the MCB candidacy committees.

In announcing Amy Jordan as the winner this year, Andy McMahon, Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science and chair of MCB, commented, “This prize is a wonderful opportunity to recognize Ernie’s strong commitment to our graduate students and for us to recognize academic excellence at a critical stage in their training.”

View Nancy Kleckner’s Faculty Profile