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IDT Sustainability Award

IDT Sustainability Award Program

The IDT Sustainability Award Program is part of IDT's ongoing commitment to science advocacy and sustainability. Our competitive award provides funding and recognition for innovative research projects that have the potential to make a global impact.

The IDT 2017 Sustainability Award provides $50,000 in funding for novel research projects that have the potential to impact worldwide biodiversity. The winning projects represent a broad array of studies that rely on IDT's nucleic acid products in key genomic applications of Next generation sequencing, CRISPR, and Synthetic biology.

2017 Sustainability Award winners


Earning the top prize of $25,000 in IDT product credit are Marlis R Douglas (left), PhD, and her collaborators, Tyler K Chafin, PhD, Michael E Douglas, PhD, and Max R Bangs, PhD The researchers are affiliated with the University of Arkansas and Auburn University

Principal investigator bio:

Marlis Douglas is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas, and holds the Endowed Bruker Professorship in Life Sciences. She received her MS in Zoology and PhD from the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Dr Douglas co-founded and co-directs the Arkansas Conservation and Molecular Ecology Laboratory and is the 21st Century Chair in Global Change Biology at the University of Arkansas.


“Novel method of long-read reduced-representation genomics to attain unprecedented phylogenetic resolution in endangered species.”

Project goals:

This project focuses on conservation of biodiversity by ascertaining the number and distribution of wild organisms at risk of extension. The researchers will establish a new genomic method to efficiently and accurately assay biodiversity in endangered fishes, and once developed it can easily be translated to other organisms at risk of extinction.

Global impact:

Accurate data on biodiversity are needed to derive effective conservation plans, while at the same time allowing for sustainable development of natural resources. Humans depend on healthy environments, and these rely upon a diversity of organisms. By understanding biodiversity, we can develop plans to conserve both organisms and environments.

How IDT products enable the project:

Standard assays are not available for wild organisms. The flexibility of IDT products allows the researchers to develop custom assays that yield highly accurate and reproducible results. The researchers will develop a new method that involves subsampling of large genomes via custom IDT xGen Lockdown Probes, to be used for population-level analyses of wild organisms.


Receiving $18,000 in IDT product credit is Angel Fernandez i Marti (left), PhD and Richard W Dodd, PhD at the University of California, Berkeley

Principal investigator bio:

Dr Marti is a plant molecular scientist in the Environmental Science, Policy and Management Dept. at UC Berkeley. He received his MS from The University des Antilles-Guyane and a PhD from the University of Lleida in Plant Genetics.

His research focuses on the application and development of the CRISPR/Cas9 system to test for adaptation of genes with assumed roles in climatic stress.


“Use of CRISPR methods to query genes important in pine trees relating to climate change.”

Project goals:

The researchers expect to provide a novel use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology for landscape genomics studies of ecology and evolution. Their focus is on long-lived plants, particularly conifers, an ecologically and economically significant western North American tree species, to test the role of gene variations in drought and temperature tolerance.

Global impact:

The recent drought-related mortality of conifer forests in California demonstrates regional climatic stress. Understanding the genetic basis of how trees adapt to environmental variation is critical for the conservation of healthy forests. The use of CRISPR-Cas9 to confirm gene functions and to test gene effects in nature can result in remarkable advances in landscape genomics and plant ecology.

How IDT products enable the project:

Custom-labelled DNA oligos synthetized by IDT are being used to test variations in genes associated with drought stress in several sugar pine populations. Additionally, IDT Alt-R CRISPR systems will enable editing the genes of interest, and CRISPR-Cas9 gRNA, Cas9 nucleases, and genome editing detection kits will be used for screening experiments.


Receiving $10,000 in IDT product credit are Jaymin Patel and Farren Isaacs (left), PhD at Yale University

Principal investigator bio:

Farren Isaacs is Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Systems Biology at Yale University. He received a BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and PhD in Biomedical Engineering-Bioinformatics at Boston University.

Dr Isaacs is developing technologies to uncover new biological phenomena, with applications in energy supply, environmental health, and medicine.


“Animating secondary metabolism using advanced synthetic biology technologies.”

Project goals:

Microbiota, the bacteria that live within humans, may play an important role in health and disease. Very little is known about the chemicals they produce. This research intends to examine and characterize these diverse chemicals at a mechanistic level, adding to the understanding of the interaction between humans and our microbiome.

Global impact:

Studies suggest that it will become clinically relevant to measure and even manipulate our microbiotas to predict and treat disease and to tune our overall health. Information gained from this project could help make this feasible by enabling a better understanding of the impact of a diverse microbiome at the chemical level.

How IDT products enable the project:

All of the biosynthetic pathways of the bacteria being studied will be synthesized at the DNA level by IDT gene and oligonucleotide synthesis services. This will facilitate expression and analysis of gene clusters, and frees the researchers from the difficulties associated with culturing, characterizing, and performing genetics on native microbial strains.

Sustainability Award event

The award winners presented their work at a special event hosted by IDT October 2018.