• Nathan Belliveau
    Credit: Lance Hayashida/Caltech

Student Biosciences Innovator Named International Research Fellow

Graduate student Nathan Belliveau has been selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Student Research Fellow. Awardees are graduate students in the sciences and will receive $43,000 annually through their third, fourth, and fifth years of predoctoral study. This year, HHMI selected 45 new fellows from 329 applications.

Belliveau applies techniques from DNA sequencing as well as ideas from information theory to the study of gene regulation, the processes by which cells trigger or inhibit the production of RNA and proteins. "I'm examining several bacterial genes that have been implicated in antibiotic resistance," he says. "In the future I hope to continue studying aspects of regulation, but with a focus on understanding how these details support interactions between microbes and other organisms."

"I have been astonished at the rate at which he has brought new technologies, such as the routine use of mass spectrometry and genome editing with CRISPR, into my group," says Rob Phillips, the Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology, and Belliveau's advisor. "Each time he introduces one of these techniques, it brings us that much closer to our ambition of being able to read the regulatory logic of genomes at will."

Belliveau completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo in Canada before coming to Caltech. "When I applied for the HHMI award I was forced to thoroughly consider my proposed research direction, and it has provided me with a boost of confidence knowing that those examining the applications agree with its importance," Belliveau says. "I was very happy to hear I was awarded this funding."

"Nathan is a truly outstanding student who surprises me nearly every time I talk to him by his experimental talent, his creative thinking, and how fast he gets things done," Phillips says. "He is one of those exceptional people who has a Midas touch. I have so far not seen him touch a single thing that doesn't turn out way better than I had imagined."

Written by Lori Dajose