Assistant Professor Adam Bohnert Receives Alumni Association Rising Faculty Research Award

April 15, 2024

When it comes to aging, two questions spark many conversations: how we are formed and how we get old. Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Adam Bohnert has been spending years working to find some answers.

Adam Bohnert

"Aging is something that everybody understands or at least can appreciate," said Bohnert. "You walk down the street and you see someone who's 70 and someone who's 20 years old and you can tell the difference between these people. It's the same thing with molecules and cells. When we go down to the building blocks of what we are, we can tell an old cell from a young cell."

His lab uses C. elegans worms that are as big as the period at the end of this sentence. This microscopic worm, which lives about two to three weeks, is helping him understand aging at the cellular level with the hopes of enhancing people's health. Bohnert said the worm suits their studies well because it's transparent and he can fluently label parts inside of it.

"When we were studying the development and aging process, this all happens quite fast," he said. "The C. elegans worm has many of the same genes that we have and so we think if we can identify genes that help this animal be healthier, it could give us some insight into how we can be healthier."

As he focuses on some aspects that regulate cell health and aging, he has been studying parts of the cell that he thinks can clear out damage.

"We have some indications of how this is happening," said Bohnert. "We're trying to explore some regulatory genes to identify if there are ways that we can turn on this switch on demand to take out the trash and to help us be healthier. We're making some progress here. It's some stuff that takes time but we're excited about the direction it's going."

His research efforts are gaining attention at the university and beyond. The assistant professor has received the Alumni Association Rising Faculty Research Award for his outstanding records of scholarship and published research.

"It's an honor to be recognized at a beginning stage of a career," said Bohnert. "My goal is to train good students and personnel and to have them understand why what we do is so exciting and so important."