Doctoral student a finalist in research competition

Jarrad Hampton-Marcell

UIC student Jarrad Hampton-Marcell is a finalist in a $100,000 research grant competition.

Can bacteria in the gut make athletes stronger and faster?

UIC student Jarrad Hampton-Marcell wants to find the answer, and he’s hoping a $100,000 grant will further his research.

Hampton-Marcell is the only Ph.D. candidate among scientists named as finalists for a citizen-science grant sponsored by uBiome. The winner will be selected by public voting, which ends Friday.

Hampton-Marcell, a biological sciences student who also works as a microbiologist at Argonne National Laboratory, is studying whether changes in gut microbial communities can help measure the impact of athletic training regimens.

“A microbiome includes all of the bacterial, fungi, microorganisms that you don’t necessarily see, but they have big implications not only for our en-
vironment, but also our health,” he said.

While most microbiome studies focus on disease, Hampton-Marcell said his work is unique because athletes serve as an “elevated model” in studying biological systems because of their regimented exercise programs and healthy, monitored diet. He’s currently working with the UIC swim team on his study.

Hampton-Marcell himself is an athlete — he spent a year on the Fighting Illini football team on the Urbana campus as a walk-on player. He received his bachelor’s in molecular and cellular biology and master’s in integrative biology from the Urbana campus.

He found out about the contest through a post on Twitter.

“It caught my eye,” he said. “The questions that I’m asking are different than what a lot of colleagues in my field are doing.”

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Research, Students