RNA sequencing study receives Creative Representations of Research Impact Award

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) Graduate School has announced the winners of the 2021 Visualizing Research Impacts (VRI) competition, which encourages SIUE scholars to share the impacts of their research through images.

One of this year’s recipients is Emily Petruccelli, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Her work was selected from a pool of 25 student and faculty entries that depicted a diversity of disciplines throughout the University.

  • Best Representation of Research Impact: “Pouring efforts in alcohol research” by Petruccelli

“Our alumni judges come from diverse disciplines and always enjoy the opportunity to review the range of VRI entries,” said Susan Morgan, PhD, associate dean for research and graduate studies. “They were uniformly impressed with the caliber of [the] images.”

Best Representation of Research Impact: “Pouring efforts in alcohol research” by Emily PetruccelliPetruccelli received a $1,500 award to further support her research and creative activities. Additionally, the recipients will be featured in the Graduate School’s annual Research and Creative Activities magazine.

Petruccelli’s research explores the molecular mechanisms underlying Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Using RNA-sequencing, her team identifies and tests specific gene transcripts differentially expressed in Drosophila (fruit flies) that show addiction-like behaviors.

Each data point on the graph is one of the 17,561 genes in the fly genome. By comparing control animals to those previously exposed to repeated bouts of ethanol, gene expression changes can be observed. Relative fold change is represented on the x-axis and the inverse of the statistic’s value, so that highly significant changes are higher in the plot, represented on the y-axis.


“Our research has highlighted conserved molecular pathways hijacked by alcohol in the nervous system,” Petruccelli said. “This allows for further testing to aid in the development of novel, more effective AUD therapies.”

Source – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

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