Irvine, Calif., April 9, 2021 — Adriana Darielle Mejía Briscoe, an acclaimed biologist known for her work on the evolution of vision in butterflies, has been awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship. The University of California, Irvine professor of ecology & evolutionary biology is among a diverse group of 184 artists, writers, scholars and scientists worldwide to receive the prestigious award this year from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants.
Briscoe will use her fellowship to support a project titled “Light, Heat and Butterflies: Adaptations of Insects to a Warming Planet.” She will conduct field research and write a book weaving together the biophysics, genetics, physiology and evolution of butterflies’ visual and thermal adaptations to climate change.
“I am pleased to congratulate Professor Briscoe on being awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship,” said Hal S. Stern, UCI interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “Her recognition and her proposed research on the impacts of climate change exemplify the academic excellence of our UCI faculty.”
Created in 1925 by Sen. Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son John Simon Guggenheim, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation provides fellowships to exceptional individuals in pursuit of scholarship in any field of knowledge and creation in any art form, under the freest possible conditions.
“In accepting this honor, I gratefully recognize the Mexican American- and Indigenous-descended women who came before me and who will come after me,” Briscoe said. “My hope is that the award will encourage others, especially Latinas, to aspire to the highest levels of creativity and achievement. Receiving a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation will give me the time to research and write about a subject I love: butterflies, humans and their intertwined relationship on this beautiful planet.”
Briscoe’s research focuses on the molecular evolution and genomics of sensory physiology, color vision, coloration and animal behavior. She is highly regarded for her work on the evolution of vision in butterflies. She is particularly well-known for the discovery of new opsins, her exploration of the links between genetic expression of these proteins and functional behavior, and her application of functional approaches in the study of light-sensitive pigments that led to color vision.
For her research contributions, Briscoe has been recognized as an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the California Academy of Sciences and the Royal Entomological Society. She is also a Distinguished Scientist of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.
UCI now has 38 Guggenheim Fellows from various backgrounds and fields of study.
About the Guggenheim Fellowships: Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted nearly $400 million in fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among them more than 125 Nobel laureates; members of all the national academies; and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the Fields Medal, the Turing Award, the Bancroft Prize, the National Book Award and other internationally recognized honors.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
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