CIE Seminar Series 2015 – Using natural experiments and next-generation sequencing to link genotype and phenotype in birds

Scott EdwardsSPEAKER: Professor Scott Edwards, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

DATE: Wednesday, 9th December 2015
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room Ka3.406
TIME: 10:00am
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood T3.05; and Warrnambool Campus, Room B3.03

ABSTRACT: Next-generation sequencing is unleashing a plethora of variation both within and between speicies and allowing stronger links between genotype and phenotype.

In this talk I will present recent efforts from my lab to take advantage of natural experiments, both within and between species, to understand the genetic basis of micro- and microevolutionary change in birds.

We use ddRad-seq to study the genome-wide effects of a bacterial pathogen on natural populations of a common North American songbird, the House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus). We next show how whole-genome alignments and novel high-quality genomes of flightless birds (Palaeognathae) suggest a role for both coding regions and non-coding regulatory regions in the evolution of novel phenotypes in birds, including feathers and flightlessness.

BIO: Scott Edwards is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He came to Harvard in December 2003 after receiving his PhD in zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, a postdoctoral fellowship in immunogenetics at the University of Florida, and serving as a faculty for 9 years in the Zoology Department and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Seattle.

His research focuses on diverse aspects of avian biology, including evolutionary history and biogeography, disease ecology, population genetics and comparative genomics.

From 2013-2015 he served as Division Director of the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the US National Science Foundation. At Harvard he teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and is passionate about helping increase the participation of underrepresented students, postdocs and faculty in the environmental sciences.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Lee Rollins.

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