Katherine Crocker, graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology, was awarded the Rackham Graduate School’s prestigious Susan Lipschutz Award.

Crocker will receive $8,000 for spring and summer support and lab research. She uses crickets as a model system to study the effects that maternal hormones can have on multiple generations.

“The hormones I study (ecdysteroid hormones, or ESH) are an interesting case because female crickets provide varying amounts of ESH to their eggs, and the effects of variable ESH concentration can be lifelong for the offspring,” Crocker said. “I'm particularly interested in how maternal and grandmaternal environments can affect offspring and grandoffspring phenotypes and fitness, and in whether these effects could be mediated by ESH.

“The Susan Lipschutz award will fund the biological assay analysis of the hormone content of cricket eggs from an intensive three-generation experiment that will tease apart the relative importance of maternal genotype and environment for both egg ESH content and offspring phenotype.”

The Susan Lipschutz Fund for Women Graduate Students was established to honor the memory of Dr. Susan Lipschutz, former senior associate dean of the graduate school and associate provost for academic affairs. Many people in the university community esteemed Lipschutz as a valued colleague, mentor and friend, and as an advocate committed to the support of women students as they pursued their doctoral degrees. The Lipschutz Fund recognizes and supports promising women scholars. After her untimely death in 1997, her friends and family created the fund to honor her memory and to support graduate students in perpetuity.

The Susan Lipschutz Award recognizes Rackham students who have demonstrated exceptional scholarly achievement, a sense of social responsibility and service, and a lively interest in promoting the success of women in the academic community. 

Additionally, Crocker has received funding to take her work into the field this summer and next to discover whether her findings hold true in natural environments, and if so, what ecological factors govern them: E.S. George Reserve Research Scholarship ($3,500), the American Museum of Natural History Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Grant ($2,500), and the Orthopterists' Society Theodore J. Cohn Research Award ($1,500).