You can check out each speaker's profile on their own page (see links from our main page).



Patrick Abbot

Vanderbilt University

Biological complexity describes, in brief, the observation that the natural world is composed of organisms that exhibit both intricate adaptations and extraordinary diversity. Understanding adaptation and diversity is basically what interests me. I am particularly interested in social and symbiotic interactions.  Evolution provides the framework, and  I draw on fields ranging from genetics and molecular biology to ecology and behavior for both techniques and inspiration. Whenever possible, I study non-model organisms with (to me!) fascinating natural histories, many of which have or soon will have various genomic resources at hand. I strongly believe in the value of integrating across disciplines in scientific discovery, and in the numerous benefits of collaboration.

David Hillis

University of Texas

The study of evolution of biotic diversity is the focus of my research.  Most of my research concerns use of molecular genetic techniques to study relationships among populations, species, and higher taxa. Some of my general areas of interest are phylogenetic relationships, speciation patterns and mechanisms, molecular evolution (including the use of experimental systems), and the consequences of hybridization and hybrid zones. Although I am interested in and work on all organisms, most of my research involves amphibians, reptiles, fishes, molluscs, and viruses. My graduate students and postdocs work on many other groups as well.

Jüergen Gadau
Associate Professor

Arizona State University

Organismal, Integrative, & Systems Biology | Nasonia white paper

My research contributes to our understanding of the genetic basis and architecture of speciation, species differences and adaptation. I am using social and solitaire insects and a wide range of genetic and genomics tools to describe how epigenetic and genetic variations in concert with expression differences generate qualitative and quantitative variations in the observed phenotypes, i.e. morphology, physiology and behavior. I am also interested to understand the interaction between nuclear and mitochondrial encoded genes in the production of ATP and how this interaction contributes to speciation, adaptation and the evolution of complex traits.

Jun Kitano
Project Associate Professor

National Institute of Genetics

Our research goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of biodiversity. Although many genes important for animal development and behavior have been identified in model organisms, relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying naturally occurring phenotypic variation important for adaptation and speciation. Furthermore, little is known about how newly evolved alleles important for adaptation and speciation spread within natural populations.

Lacey Knowles
Associate Professor

University of Michigan

My research focuses on speciation and the processes that initiate or contribute to population divergence, and spans a wide range of temporal and spatial scales that have both ecological and evolutionary implications. My primary research interests include the relative contributions of selection and drift to speciation, the evolution of reproductive isolation, and the processes generating macroevolutionary patterns of diversity. 

Michael Lynch

Indiana University

Our research is focused on mechanisms of evolution at the gene, genomic, cellular, and phenotypic levels, with special attention being given to the roles of mutation, random genetic drift, and recombination. For these purposes, we are currently utilizing several model systems, the microcrustacean Daphnia, the nematode Caenorhabditis, the ciliate Paramecium and its bacterial endosymbionts, the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas, the diatom Phaeodactylum, and numerous bacterial species.  In addition, comparative analyses of completely sequenced genomes are being performed to shed light on issues concerning the origins of genomic and gene-structural complexity. Most of our empirical work is integrated with the development and use of mathematical theory in an effort to develop a formal understanding of the constraints on the evolutionary process. Evolution is a population-level process, and the underlying philosophy of our research is that "nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of population genetics."

Sergei Nuzhdin

University of Southern California

Evolution is on the verge of a technological evolution. Our lab searches for information in vast data bases, formulates research in model-based frameworks, uses systems approaches developed in engineering, and relies on high-powered computing for statistical analyses. We are concept and question oriented – seeking out any system or data set that will help us shed light on evolutionary principles. Our past research described below has focused on mechanistic understanding of evolution of complex systems. Here I describe some of our recent advances in three main areas of research: transposable elements (TEs), quantitative genetics, and genomics. Currently and in the future, we will be focusing on incorporating network thinking in our systems analyses.

Sara Sawyer
Assistant Professor

University of Texas

Evolutionary changes driven by historical viral epidemics have left a molecular fossil record in our DNA sequence. Our goal is to learn about natural strategies that have been successful at beating viruses in the past, and how these might be exploited in the fight against modern viral attacks. We are using a broad array of techniques from molecular evolution, virology, experimental evolution, and comparative genomics to look at human and primate genes that encode inhibitors of viral infection. We are also exploring evolutionary trade-offs, where human genes change enough to avoid susceptibility to new viruses, yet still maintain their ability to perform other important cellular functions. We are interested in the inverse effects that evolutionary change can have on multiple, intertwined biological systems. 

Kentaro Shimizu
Associate Professor

University of Zurich

Molecular basis of biodiversity, evolutionary and ecological genomics, evolution of mating systems, speciation by genome duplication (polyploidization), predicting evolutionary and plastic responses in changing environments.

Jay Storz
Principle Investigator

University of Nebraska

The primary focus of my research is the genetic basis of adaptive evolutionary change. Research in my lab addresses questions about the genetics of adaptation by integrating evolutionary analyses of DNA sequence variation with mechanistic appraisals of protein function and whole-animal physiological performance in an ecologically relevant context. To do this, we use a highly interdisciplinary approach that integrates molecular population genetics, molecular evolution, comparative genomics, functional genomics, structural biology, protein biochemistry, and whole-animal physiology.

Jack Werren

University of Rochester

Our area of interest is evolutionary genetics. We combine genetic, molecular, and population approaches to investigate basic questions in biology. Current research topics include investigating (1) genetic bases of developmental and behavioral differences between species, (2) genomics and co-evolution of insects and their symbiotic microorganisms (e.g. Wolbachia) (3) lateral gene transfers from bacteria to animals as a source of genetic innovation, and (4) genetics and genomics of parasitoid wasps, including function and evolution of parasitoid venoms. We use the emerging genetic model Nasonia (and relatives) to investigate these questions. The endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia, which is widespread in insects, is the primary focus of our bacterial work. Additional information on these topics is available below and via the relevant webpage links

Tetsuji Kakutani

National Institute of Genetics

To understand control and function of DNA methylation, we are taking genetic approaches using mutants of Arabidopsis. An Arabidopsis protein DDM1 (decrease in DNA methylation) is necessary for methylating transposons and repeats. On the other hand, IBM1 (increase in BONSAI methylation) is necessary for not methylating genes. In mutants of genes encoding these proteins, several types of developmental abnormalities were induced. Characterization of these abnormalities is revealing impact of DNA methylation on genome evolution and appropriate gene expression. In addition, using these and other mutants, we are studying controlling mechanisms of differential DNA methylation between genes and transposons within the genome.

Department of Epigenetics, Devision of Medical Genomics, Medical Research Institute
Epigenetics coupled with Genetics enables us to elucidate several 'genomic functions' in inheritance, development and evolution of the organisms including our human beings.  Genomic imprinting is one of the mammalian specific gene regulation mechanisms and gives rise to functional differences between paternally- and maternally-derived genomes in development, behavior and growth.  Somatic cloned animals give us unique chances to examine 'genetically identical but epigenetically diverged animals'. These studies show us how Epigenetics is important in mammalian biology.  Our department focuses on these mammalian specific genomic functions to elucidate how these genomic functions work and how new genomic functions have been evolved during evolution.  Our final goal is to contribute to the 21th's medicine and human biology by novel understanding of the genomic functions.



Oleg Gusev
National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences

Oleg obtained his Master degree in Invertebrate Zoology and Biochemistry (2004) and PhD in Molecular Biology (2007) at Okayama University, Japan.  His main interests are genetic and cellular level analysis of evolution of adaptive mechanisms of invertebrates to extreme environments.  His current research subject is the mechanisms of complete desiccation resistance (anhydrobiosis) in a single species of dipteran insect Polypedilum vanderplanki. Using NGS-powered comparative  genomics, transcriptomic and metabolomic data the project aims to reconstruct origin of exceptional resistance to desiccation and its effect on evolution of genome of the midges.

Jennifer Wisecaver
Graduate student
University of Arizona, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I use comparative genomic and phylogenetic methods to study gene innovation in microbial eukaryotes. Gene duplication and gene transfer are both major drivers of innovation, but the relative contribution of these two processes to the evolution of microbial eukaryotes is poorly understood, despite the fact that unicells represent the majority of eukaryotic evolutionary and functional diversity. I use comparative phylogenomics to identify and quantify contrasting phylogenetic signals due to horizontal gene transfer in algae and evaluate different hypotheses regarding chloroplast evolution in these organisms.  I also study kleptoplastidy (sequestration of temporary plastids stolen from prey) as a model for understanding the early events in chloroplast acquisition.

Emmanuel Buschiazzo
University of California, Merced

My research interests led me to study micro- and macroevolutionary processes in various organisms, from mammals through to conifer trees and corals. Currently,  I am studying the coral holobiont; how organisms that compose it evolve across space and time, especially in the current context of rapid environmental change. Using an interdisciplinary blend of traditional genetics, genomics, transcriptomics and metagenomics approaches, I hope to shed light on the life history of the coral-algal symbiosis, the effect of natural selection on corals and their ability to adapt under increasingly challenging conditions, and I am working towards reconstructing a system-wide functional model of the coral holobiont. Other on-going interests include the study of the too often neglected simple sequence repeats (microsatellite DNA), especially in mammalian genomes, and the molecular evolution of conifer protein-coding genes.

Erica Lasek-Nesselquist
University of Connecticut

My research interests include molecular phylogenetics, comparative genomics, and the population biology of microbial organisms.  My dissertation explored the population biology of Giardia duodenalis (particularly within the marine environment), which involved assessing the diversity, distribution, zoonotic potential and sexual nature of this organism with multi-locus and comparative genomic approaches.  Specifically, I sequenced 2-7 molecular markers from a variety of isolates and marine animal fecal samples to: 1) examine the molecular diversity and zoonotic potential of Giardia duodenalis in marine vertebrates, 2) explore geographic and host species distributions and identify major factors responsible for the spread of this parasite within the marine environment, and 3) detect genetic exchange within and between major lineages of G. duodenalis and evaluate its potential for generating new zoonoses.  I also employed a comparative genomic approach to more thoroughly define intra and inter lineage differences, identify any potential genetic interactions that blur population boundaries, and look for selection differences among lineages.  My first postdoctoral experience allowed me to continue my general interest in phylogenetics and molecular evolution. I sequenced several mitochondrial genomes from bdelloid rotifers and mined transcriptomic datasets for additional sequences to test hypotheses regarding bdelloid and syndermate relationships.  My second and current postdoctoral experience is microbially and bioinformatically oriented and focuses on understanding the influence of horizontal gene transfer in defining or obscuring microbial lineages.  One project involves reconstructing a tree of life from ribosomal proteins to serve as a reference tree for detecting horizontal gene transfer.  In the process of reconstructing an accurate phylogeny, I can evaluate how taxonomic sampling, model choice, compositional biases, method of inference, and other parameters affect topology.

Takahiro Maruki
Postdoctoral Fellow
Indiana University, Bloomington

I investigate mechanisms of evolution by building mathematical models and analyzing empirical data.  In particular, I am interested in the following topics:

  1. Identification of potential targets of natural selection, using genomic polymorphism data of organisms
  2. Role of geographic structure of a population in shaping the genomic diversity of organisms
  3. Role of recombination in shaping the genomic diversity of sexual organisms

The rapidly increasing amount of genomic polymorphism data of various organisms provides exciting opportunities to investigate these topics.  I pursue to develop mathematical methods necessary for correctly inferring mechanisms of evolution, paying close attention to empirical data.  


Allison Hsiang
Yale University

My research interests concern the interplay between phylogenetic methods/theory and evolutionary processes, using the test case of the phylogenetic position of turtles within amniotes. I am primarily interested in determining why and how – from both practical and theoretical perspectives – incongruity between phylogenetic analyses occurs, particularly between analyses using different sources of data (e.g., molecular vs. morphological, discrete vs. continuous morphological characters, etc.).


Alok Arun
Pierre and Marie Curie University

Alok obtained his Masters (2006) and M.Phil (2009) degree in Botany from Department of Botany, University of Delhi, Delhi in India. At present, Alok is an Erasmus Mundus Doctoral student at Station Biologique, Roscoff and Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris in France. His overarching research interest is to define the molecular mechanisms underlying evolution of multicellular organisms in various eukaryotic lineages. The evolution of many-celled or multicellular organisms was a critical innovation in the history of life, which enabled an increase in the complexity and functionality of organisms. For organisms to become multicellular, the process by which cells reproduce had to evolve to allow dividing cells to remain in contact with one another. Organisms in different lineages (e.g. animals, plants, fungi) have evolved multicellularity independently. Whether the mechanisms controlling the transition to multicellularity are the same in different lineages is currently unknown. The availability of numerous genome sequences from various phylogenetically distant lineages is creating a huge wealth of data. My long term interest lies in developing models to detect fine-scale birth and death of gene families in different organisms from various eukaryotic lineages.

Andrew Ying-Fei Chang
National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan

I am interested in genome evolution in eukaryotes, with focus on genome organization, expression divergence and epigenetic regulation of paralogous genes. I use primarily computational methods and comparative genomics approach to study molecular mechanisms of evolutionary significance.  By applying proposed models to experimental data, progress has been made in understanding how eukaryotes retain functionally redundant duplicate genes and achieve dosage rebalance after gene duplications. Furthermore, development of bioinformatics tools and pipelines for evolutionary biology constitutes a significant portion of my work; especially the experience in NGS data analysis has enhanced my scope of intra-species and cross-species molecular evolution research.

Dianne Lou
University of Texas at Austin

I am interested in understanding the evolutionary dynamics that occur at the interface of host-virus interactions and how this has shaped the evolutionary trajectory of many human genes. Currently, I am studying the rapid evolution of several DNA repair genes in response to viral antagonism and/or hijacking. Because these genes are essential for genome maintenance and cell survival, adaptive evolution may impart a negative consequence on normal cellular functions and susceptibility to disease.

Guillaume Diss
Département de Biologie, Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes, PROTEO, Université Laval

As a system biologist, I am interested on the architecture of life complexity. Biological systems are organized in hierarchical networks throughout all organizational levels that compose life, where a whole network constitute a single unit of the upper level. Throughout my career I would like to explore the common rules that govern network architecture between the different organizational levels of life and how this intricated organization evolved. For the time being, as a PhD student, I am focused on analyzing how the protein interaction networks respond to genomic perturbations.

João Teixeira
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

The main goal of my research is to understand how different evolutionary forces
interplay to shape genomic differences between species and populations. Having a
keen interest in natural selection, my work involves using comparative population genomics to unveil its role in the evolution of humans and closest relatives.

Joshua M Miller
University of Alberta

My research interests are conservation genetics and genomics of wildlife. I am currently focusing on bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), investigating the genomic consequences of a "genetic rescue" (intentional admixture to combat inbreeding) as well as the genetic basis for differences in horn size.

Koji Yahara
University of Tokyo / Max Planck Institute

Population genomics and bioinformatics of bacteria, particularly recombination and selection in Helicobacter pylori

Kristen Fortney
University of Toronto

I’m interested in applying tools from computational biology to problems in translational medicine, with a focus on aging and age-related disease. For my PhD, I integrated data from different high-throughput experiments to identify biomarkers and therapeutics for aging and cancer. I’m about to begin my postdoctoral project on the genomics of human longevity. I’ll be analyzing the genome sequences of long-lived humans to uncover differences that may explain their remarkable disease resistance and longevity.

Kyle Martin
University of Oxford, Department of Zoology

Metazoan evolution has been punctuated with several whole genome duplication events (WGDs) including 2 rounds of WGD in the ancestor of vertebrates (2R) and a third teleost-specific round of whole genome duplication (3R).  It is often hypothesized that these whole genome duplications facilitated the evolution of the characteristic vertebrate body plan and the massive evolutionary radiation of teleosts respectively.  I study the impact of the 3R WGD from a molecular phylogenetic, genomic, and developmental genetic perspective, probing the genomes of the most basal groups of teleosts, the Osteoglossomorpha, for signs of the earliest changes which accompanied 3R.  I am particularly interested in exploring the question of how the fate of duplicated genomic elements including protein coding genes, regulatory elements, and non-coding RNA genes such as miRNAs, is determined.  What forces influence the decision to retain or lose an element, and precisely when they act following WGD are currently unknown but it is widely expected that selection plays some role.  My preliminary work has been to address these questions with the highly conserved hox genes, and I am now extending this analysis genome wide with the use of several novel model teleost genomes.

Martin Kuhlwilm
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

My research interest concerns recent human evolution. The functional characterization of transcription factors and their regulatory networks that were under positive selection is part of my main project. I use high-throughput sequencing data of ancient hominins and transcriptome data of human cell cultures for that approach. The evolution of coding regions in genomes is another topic in which I am interested, as it might provide insights into the forces that shaped the evolution of our species.

Mengchu Wu
Research Fellow
Cancer Science Institute of Singapore,
National Univeristy of Singapore

My research interest is dynamic genomic and epigenomic changes during tumourigenesis. Currently, we are utilizing next-generation sequencing approaches in both cell line models and patient samples to investigate evolution of tumor cells.

Quinn McFrederick

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology

University of Texas, Austin


I am interested in understanding the determinants of population size and community structure, with the goal of being able to better manage and protect wild pollinator populations.  I have studied how humans impact wild bee populations, and recently I have focused on relationships between bees and organisms that live in close association with them.  I am currently studying how microbes affect the health of wild bees.  One question that I am particularly interested in is how bee social structure can influence both the evolution and ecology of microbes.  As an evolutionary ecologistist and a conservation biologist, I use a combination of experimentation, phylogenetics, bacterial community next-generation sequencing surveys, and bioinformatics to answer these questions.    

Ray Tobler
Institute of Population Genetics Vienna

I have long been interested in understanding genotype-phenotype relationships and the ontogeny of complex traits.  As such, I have a growing interest in integrative and systems based biological disciplines, such as evo-devo, evolutionary and ecological genetics/genomics, and the omics fields. My present research investigates the genomic architecture of thermally adapted traits and their evolutionary repeatability in Drosophila. I employ an experimental evolution framework that simultaneously quantifies phenotypic and genotypic (using full-genome next generation sequencing) change in replicate populations, thereby creating a dynamic portrait of thermal adaptation in Drosophila. In the future I would like to integrate findings from evolutionary genomics with both functional and ecological information to better understand adaptation in natural settings.

Sanna Olsson
University of Helsinki

I graduated in Botany at the University of Helsinki (Finland) and obtained a PhD in Biology at the Dresden University of Technology (Germany) with the title “Evolution of the Neckeraceae”. I have working experience with mosses, algae, liverworts, cyanobacteria and recently vascular plants. In my first postdoc project I worked with population genetics and genomics of the red alga Furcellaria lumbricalis. At present I work with arsenic tolerance in plants at the Spanish National Centre of Biotechnology in Madrid. My research interests include genetics, molecular evolution, systematics and ecology, linked together by an evolutionary point of view. I have become increasingly interested in functional genetics and have moved from morphology and systematics into more applied questions. Currently I am about to start a research project that aims to understand the evolution of sex in bryophytes using transcriptomic data and linkage mapping.

Severine Affeldt
PhD student
Institut Curie, France

My research focuses on quantitative analysis of the evolution of vertebrate genomes. It combines comparative genomics approaches across newly sequenced genomes from higher eukaryotes, and specific statistical methods based on the mediation analysis framework. By integrating genomic data and causal inference methods, I am aiming at getting a better understanding of the role of non-adaptive forces on the emergence of eukaryote complexity.

Swetansu B Pattnaik
Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology

I am interested in analyzing data from multiple orthogonal next-generation sequencing instruments to solve key biological problems. In the context of the workshop, I am primarily interested in looking at the next-generation sequencing data from an evolutionary perspective. Among other studies, our lab is involved in sequencing, analyses and interpretation of a woody angiosperm, Azadirachta indica. The plant is known to possess medicinal and pesticidal properties. We have already shown that the plant expresses transcripts involved in the secondary metabolite biosynthesis (Krishnan et al., 2011; Krishnan, Pattnaik et al, communicated). The Azadirachta indica genome is very compact, AT rich and bear genes involved in the terpenoid biosysnthesis with unusual structures in comparison to other known sequenced angiosperms (Krishnan et al, communicated). No other plant from the family Meliaceae, where Azadirachta belongs, has been sequenced and no other plant is shown to code for genes with such potent pesticidal activity.

The primary objectives of our study on Azadirachta indica genome and transcriptomes are:

  1. Understanding of the genome evolution in Azadirachta indica.
  2. What makes Azadirachta indica genome a compact one harboring minimal repeat elements?
  3. Understanding of the genes/transcripts involved in terpenoid biosynthesis in Azadirachta indica.
  4.  Biological engineering of key pathways involved in terpenoid biosynthesis in order to enable inexpensive and environmentally friendly bioactive compounds.
  5. Interrogation of the host-pathogen relationship in a highly xenophytic environment orchestrated by the complex terpenoids in Azadirachta indica.

Yuuka Yamamoto
Kyoto University

I am  interested in how social insects accomplished reproductive harmony in their colonies. My lovely partner is a termite.

Touati Benoukraf
Cancer Science Institute of Singapore
National University of Singapore
Centre for Translational Medicine

Dr. Touati BENOUKRAF received his B.S. in computer science (2004) and his PhD in computational biology (2010) from the University of Aix-Marseille II in France. During this period, at the Immunology Center of Marseille-Luminy, he has studied the regulation of genes involved in early T-cell differentiation using histone marks. The main focus of his work was to analyze the non-coding segments of the genome in order to bring to light novel regulatory elements such as enhancers or silencers, by developing new bioinformatics tools (

David L. Des Marais
The University of Texas at Austin

I am interested in the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms underlying plant adaptation to the abiotic environment.  My research follows two related lines of inquiry.  First, I study the molecular basis of physiological response to drought stress, focusing on genomic and candidate gene approaches to defining signaling pathways as well as exploiting natural genetic variants in this search via linkage mapping.  I also study the evolutionary context of these molecular and physiological mechanisms, aiming to understand how such systems vary in space and time, and how natural selection acts on complex systems.  As a post-doc, I have worked primarily with Arabidopsis and the model grass species, Brachypodium distachyon.  I am more generally interested in the evolution of gene regulation and in developing approaches to study the molecular basis of genotype by environment interactions.

Yu-Ching Huang
Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica

The division of labor within the colony is one of the fundamental characteristics of eusocial insect societies. Queens and workers possess the same genome; however, they have different features including reproductive ability, behavior, and life-span. I am interested in how gene regulation controls caste determination between queens and workers. My long-term goal is to understand caste determination at the levels of genetic networks during development and genome during evolution by examining multiple related species with similar queen-worker organization and then extending to other species with different caste determination system. I plan to perform genome comparisons and transcriptome analysis of several ant species using next generation sequencing to identify the conserved gene families for caste determination, and hopefully to help elucidate the origin of the caste determination system within the ant species. 

In addition to the caste determination study, I am examining the chromosome architecture of the region surrounding Gp-9 which is of interest as a selfish element and is fully associated with the two social forms (monogyne and polygyne) in the Solenopsis invicta. Genetic mapping studies have revealed a large non-recombining supergene which has the property similar to sex chromosomes. I am interested in testing whether supergenes might be also implicated in social organization in other ant species that have monogyne and polygyne social forms.

Rene Michael Malenfant
University of Alberta

Conservation genomics principles and molecular biology techniques, with focus on use of next-generation sequencing data (inc. bioinformatics methods); genomic consequences of climate change and harvesting on free-ranging mammalian populations; biological diversity, with focus on adaptive synapomorphies of “higher” vertebrates; computational molecular phylogenetics.

Cassidy Cobbs
Vanderbilt University

I'm interested in molecular evolution of novel genes and the role of copy number variation in evolution.

Inna Povolotskaya
Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona

Currently I am mostly interested in evolution, which is governed by epistatic effects, with the main questions to answer being how rigid the functional sequence space is and how epistatic interactions affect protein evolution. 


Kerry Reid
Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria

My main research interest focuses on the evolution and demography of temperate marine fish species in the Atlantic Ocean and how their current distribution and genetic diversity has been influenced by paleoclimates. The the focus of my PhD is placed mainly on coastal South African temperate marine fish species which are of conservation importance and have an antitropical distribution with sister-taxa in the North Atlantic/Mediterranean Sea. These widespread antitropical species provide an excellent model system for studying the effects of climate change on temperate species using molecular approaches.

Brooke (Brook) Taylor Moyers
PhD candidate
University of British Columbia

"Broadly, I am interested in local adaptation, ecological speciation, and the interplay between gene flow and divergence. My dissertation focuses on the evolution of the silverleaf sunflower, Helianthus argophyllus, which exhibits significant variation in life history traits across its range. My research examines the ecological and genomic drivers that underlie this variation, as well as the potential role of gene flow from closely related species."

Elizabeth Green
University of California-Merced

My research interests are in molecular genetics and adaptive evolutionary responses in corals. For my graduate project I am searching for signals of natural selection in Montastraea faveolata, an endangered Caribbean coral species. I aim to identify genes of critical functional importance and reveal adaptive mutations clarifying evolutionary processes. This will allow us to better understand the genetic diversity of corals in the Caribbean and their ability to adapt to current environmental challenges. 

Spagopoulou Foteini
EBC, Uppsala University

"During my studies, I have developed a strong interest into the emergence of complex traits and how these are affected by microevolutionary processes. Currently, I am focusing on the evolution of male reproductive ageing of C. remanei, under differential risk of extrinsic mortality."

Ana Duggan

My interests are firmly rooted in evolution, in the notion that change and adaptation are constants but we are nonetheless able to reconstruct histories and relationships through both phenotypic and genotypic means My current research studies human population genetic structure and demographic history through mtDNA with the aim of determining migration patterns and times as well as admixture events. I am also deeply interested in studying whether there are any traits which allowed some of these migrations to be so successful, either at an mtDNA or nuclear genome level. For example, the proposed thrifty-gene hypothesis which may have allowed Polynesians to travel long distances by sea and is pertinent to my geographical area of study. I am fundamentally interested in what makes humans unique and what changes must have happened to allow a single species to become so overwhelmingly successful and spread across continents rapidly with populations adapting to diverse environmental conditions. 


Catherine Cullingham
University of Alberta

In my research I take a multidisciplinary approach where I utilize population genetic theory, molecular techniques and landscape ecology to examine the dynamics of dispersal and variability of populations. I focus specifically on how host distribution, genetic variation and movement can affect disease dynamics, but I am also interested in studying population dynamics with an emphasis on conservation priorities. The projects I have been involved with are applied; some examples include connectivity of reintroduced populations, understanding the factors associated with disease spread, and dynamics of invasive-pest outbreaks. When I am not tackling these complex problems I escape to the mountains on hiking adventures.



Research Interest