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UCLA Scientist Awarded $500K Grant
Posted by Damian Kelly on Oct 5, 2012 - 4:38:15 PM

WESTWOOD—On Monday, October 2, UCLA neurobiologist Elissa Hallem was among 23 people named as 2012 MacArthur Fellows and will receive $500,000 over the next five years.

According to a UCLA news release that announced the annual award, Hallem, 34, is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and explores physiology and behavioral consequences of odor detection.  Before coming to UCLA, Hallem conducted comprehensive studies of olfaction in fruit flies that revealed several important and sometimes unexpected insights as a graduate student at Yale.

After receiving her doctorate in 2005, Hallem became a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech where she spent time on the connection between chemoreception and behavior.

2012 MacArthur Fellow Elissa Hallem. Photo courtesy of MacArthur Foundation
Hallem’s basic research is applying her experiences and expertise in invertebrate chemoreception to identify pharmacologic or behavioral interventions that may eventually reduce parasitic infection in humans.

For more information on Hallem’s work, please visit

Nominations for MacArthur Fellowships, which are awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, are accepted only from those who are invited nominators who identify people that demonstrate “exceptional creativity and promise.”

Other local winners were Caltech medical microbiologist Sarkis Mazmanian and conceptual photographer Uta Barth.

 Mazmanian, 39, is investigating the mechanism underlying the symbiotic relationship between hosts and their beneficial microbial partners. He is laying the foundation for a new understanding of human-microbiome symbiosis that could lead to new therapies or preventive treatments for a broad class of human diseases.

Barth, 54 and a resident of Los Angeles, intentionally depicts mundane or incidental objects in nondescript surroundings to focus attention on the fundamental act of looking and the process of perception.

For more information on the fellowships, visit the MacArthur Foundation's web site at


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