Kelley-J-2013-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Joanna Kelley, genome scientist and assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is the inaugural winner of the international Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution’s “Junior Award for Independent Research.”

The award singles out outstanding independent researchers demonstrating innovative, creative work “that is moving the field of molecular biology and evolution forward,” according to the society website. The annual award includes recognition at the annual banquet in July, a cash prize of $2,000 and a travel award to attend the annual meeting.

Kelley’s lab at Washington State University focuses on high-throughput genome sequencing and computational approaches to analyzing big data in genomics.

Earlier this year, she found the genetic mechanism that lets a fish live in toxic, sulfidic water, opening new insights into the functioning of other “extremophiles” and how they adapt to their challenging environments. In 2014, she sequenced the DNA of the Antarctic midge and assembled the smallest insect genome to date. The year before, GenomeWeb named her one of its top 20 young investigators.