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June 12, 2012 | last updated June 12, 2012 1:58 pm

USM professor nets federal grant for biology research

University of Southern Maine biology professor Lisa Moore has received a three-year, $294,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to work on a research project on the origins of life.

Moore will be working on such an evolutionary map as part of an NSF-funded project to depict how all species are related and can be traced back to a common ancestor, according to a press release. Moore will work with a team of researchers from around the country to assemble and analyze a Tree of Life focusing on the microbial world. Moore's project will use a multidisciplinary team of biologists and computer scientists to develop methods that will allow students and the public to participate in the collection of phenomic information, which show an organism's characteristics and how the organism responds to environmental factors. USM students will be part of a team testing methods.

Her project is one of the three in the NSF's $13 million "Assembling, visualizing, and analyzing the Tree of Life" program that will build a comprehensive Tree of Life accessible to scientists, students and the public. Charles Darwin first introduced the idea of a Tree of Life in the 1800s.

The program will work to create an online version of the tree containing information about all 1.8 million named species.

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