Laboratory of Evolutionary & Population Genomics


I work on the population and evolutionary genomics of animals (lamprey, fish, mouse and humans) and plants, and, more recently, genetic epidemiology. My primary research interest is in how genomes evolve, and how we can use genomic information to infer what is happening to individuals and populations. I do this work both at my home institution (UofW), as well as in collaboration with researchers at the University of Manitoba, the Hospital for Sick Children, and others.

What we do:

Currently, we use bioinformatics (e.g. ancestral genome reconstructions, phylogenetic analyses, transcriptomics, 16S microbiome analysis and, hopefully soon, methylation analysis) and experimental approaches (e.g. qRT-PCR, cell culture, microscopy) to study: 1) the role of Insulin like peptide 5 in metabolism, immunity and disease using Japanese medaka, mouse and human cell lines as models and 2) the genetic basis of gonadal sex differentiation in sea lamprey. Additionally, I am a collaborator (performing population genomics analyses) on projects to understand the genetic relationship of the Kazakh people to other ethnic groups in Central Asia. Earlier in my career I focused on 1) the micro and macro-evolutionary forces influencing self-incompatibility systems in plants, 2) Conservation Genetics of plants and animals 3) orchard design and flower management in apples and 4) The factors influencing species richness in angiosperm families. I still do some work in this area via collaborations, particularly with Miriam Ferrer at UADY, Mexico.

Current work in progress and collaborations include:

- The evolution of Insulin and insulin -like peptides and their receptors in deuterostomes

- The function of insulin like peptide 5 (INSL5) in the immune system using fish, human and mouse cell line models

- Transcriptomic analysis of gonad development in lamprey - work in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Docker (University of Manitoba)

- Population Genomic analyses of the people of Kazakhstan (work in Collaboration with Elmira Khussainova, (IGGC, Almaty, Kazakhstan)

- The evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) of p63 and primate teeth - collaboration with Dr. Julia Boughner, University of Sasketchewan.

Our work is funded by: