Yeshiva College senior Yonatan Schwartz of Teaneck is the first YU student to be awarded the Victoria Finnerty undergraduate travel award by the Genetics Society of America. The award memorializes Finnerty, a longtime member of the Genetics Society of America, and her commitment to teaching and mentoring undergraduates engaged in drosophila research — that is, in genetics studies using fruit fly models. The award covers its winner’s travel costs to help them get to the society’s annual drosophila research conference.

Mr. Schwartz’s research is on drosophila melanogaster — aka the common fruit fly. “My project investigated how aging impacts male fertility,” Mr. Schwartz said. “Previous studies in the lab found that fertility declines steadily and progressively as males age, but if males were permitted to store sperm, even older males could maintain their fertility. My work is now examining if sperm storage over the long term harms sperm, or if older males can restart making sperm if they do not have stored sperm. Our work will help us understand better why male fertility declines with age and will inform human fertility counseling and treatment.”

He will be headed to the Philadelphia research conference to present his work in April. “This is a fabulous opportunity for Yoni to experience a national scientific conference and for the Drosophila community to hear about Yoni’s work,” Dr. Josefa Steinhauer, an associate professor of biology, said. “Yoni has worked in my lab since spring 2017, and he is writing an honors thesis based on his work this year.” Schwartz will graduate from Yeshiva College this spring and is planning to go to medical school.