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Phifer-Rixey Recognized by National Science Foundation with $1.1 Million Grant

Megan V. Phifer-Rixey, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, has received a five-year, $1.1 million grant through the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative for the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program.

This is the first CAREER grant, and second NSF award, to be received by a Monmouth University faculty member, and is also the first for Phifer-Rixey.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the NSF and to have my research and education program funded through the CAREER mechanism. I see great potential for the research to make a major contribution to the field and for the mentoring and educational activities to make a major contribution to the next generation of scientists. I am thrilled that the NSF shares that same vision,” Phifer-Rixey said.

CAREER is one of the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

This award supports Phifer-Rixey’s research on the evolutionary impact of urban environments on house mice and provides educational experiences and resources for undergraduate students. Nikita L. Burrows, Ph.D., assistant professor in the chemistry department, and Courtney L. Werner, Ph.D., associate professor in the English department, will assist in the integration of research into undergraduate classes.

In addition, the CAREER-funded project will present high school teachers and local community college professors an opportunity to engage in independent research.

“Dr. Phifer-Rixey has been instrumental in our curricular discussions, including serving on the committee to revise our genetics course … The Department has valued the contribution of Dr. Phifer-Rixey to both our curriculum and to the research program,” Dorothy Lobo, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the University’s biology department, said.

Commencing on Sept. 1, 2021, a portion of the grant was transferred to the University. The remaining amount will be released on a later date with the program running until Aug. 31, 2026.

A one-year, no-cost extension is a potential option following the August deadline but is dependent on the availability of additional funds.

The esteemed and exclusive award is received by an estimated 500 professional individuals annually with only one proposal permitted per principal investigator per competition.

Phifer-Rixey joined the Monmouth University faculty in the fall of 2016 and has a well-established research program at the University. She has also contributed to 15 scholarly publications.