Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Bio.
Office: Biolabs 1105
Kirsten received a B.A. in Biochemistry and Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA in 1996. She received her PhD in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI in 2004, where she worked in John Doebley’s group on the genetics of maize domestication. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Detlef Weigel’s group at the Max Planck Institue for Developmental Biology in Tuebingen, Germany from 2004 to 2009 studying hybrid necrosis in A. thaliana. Kirsten was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 2008, and has been on the faculty in the OEB department at Harvard University since July 2009.
Kirsten currently teaches Genetics and Genomics together with Dan Hartl (OEB50), and Genetic Conflict (OEB185). She has also taught a freshman seminar on co-evolution and arms races in biology and society (FRSEM23n) and plant genetics (OEB 108).
Postdocs (in chronological order)
Research Interests :Temperature sensitivity and genetic mechanisms of hybrid necrosis
Ben is from Europe, with ties to France, England, Scotland and the Netherlands. He holds a B.Sc. in Plant Sciences from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D. in Plant genetics from the University of Cambridge. During his PhD he characterized a variety of gene silencing mechanisms in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Now he is working on two distinct projects in the lab. First, he is working to understand how modest increases in ambient temperature suppress plant immune responses. To do this, he mostly studies cases of hybrid necrosis in A. thaliana which express autoimmune responses that are suppressed at elevated temperature. More recently, Ben has begun working on studying flowering variation in Arabidopsis arenosa specifically related to the loss of vernalization responsiveness in accessions that have colonized railways. Currently this involves a combination of phenotypic characterization, genetic mapping, and transcriptome analyses. Otherwise, Ben enjoys water, snow and ball sports and various other forms of entertainment (e.g. Sudoku and Tetris).
NIH NRSA Fellow (co-sponsored by Nancy Kleckner)
As an evolutionary biologist, Kevin isinterested in understanding fundamental questions regarding the maintenance of variation and adaptation to novel environments. His work in the Bomblies lab is focused on understanding the evolution of meiosis by studying cytological and functional molecular genetic differences between closely related Arabidopsis arenosa diploids and autotetraploids. Although many proteins and elements of meiosis are broadly conserved evolutionarily, there is species level variation in the precise meiotic mechanisms, but remarkably little data on how this has evolved. To understand the evolution of meiotic mechanisms, Kevin will be conducting molecular, genetic and cytological work to monitor chromosome segregation and genetic transformation of divergent alleles of critical meiotic genes.
This research builds on Kevin's PhD work in evolutionary genetics in the Willis and Rausher labs at Duke University. There Kevin studied the genomic and physiological basis of adaptation to copper mine tailings in the wildflower, Mimulus guttatus. He used genetic linkage mapping coupled with measurements of essential plant nutrients to understand the genetic and physiological basis of parallel evolution of tolerance to toxic soil conditions. During his one-year postdoc, he expanded his research program to utilize new genome resequencing technologies, bioinformatics and complex statistical models to identify hundreds of loci with molecular signatures of a selection. In each of these two systems, Kevin is conducting experiments aimed at understanding the functional molecular, genetic, and cytological mechanisms underlying adaptation to novel environments.
Whole genome duplications are arguably the most drastic mutations, creating an array of cellular changes such as doubling the number of chromosomes, increasing cell size, and altered developmental rate and fertility. Yet such events are often not only well tolerated in plants, but defining events in the emergence of many of our major crop species. Jeremy's current work looks to understand the evolution of protein interactions and expression following whole genome duplications in plants. He is investigating protein-protein interactions among the highly selected structural components of the meiotic recombination machinery from diploid and tetraploid Arabidopsis species a model system for exploring constraints on protein sequence evolution. At a systems level he is interested in how plant cells so adeptly adjust protein concentrations to maintain homeostasis in the face of altered gene number and expression level following whole genome duplication. Jeremy earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin Madison, followed by a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. His graduate work, carried out in Edward Marcotte's lab, focused on the systematic characterization of yeast protein complexes under stress.
Marie Curie Fellow
Research Interests: Recombination and crossover regulation in diploid and tetraploid A. arenosa.
Graduate Students (in chronological order)
Research Interests: Population genetics and genomics of A. arenosa
Brian graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Plant Biology in 2009 and then spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Finland studying evolutionary genetics with Dr. Outi Savolainen. Currently, he is interested in autotetraploids and uses Arabidopsis arenosa as a model to study how different mechanisms of gene segregation affect genetic variation at the population level. Brian is currently working on a large population genomics project in A. arenosa.
Brian also works on studying tetraploid yeast in Nancy Kleckner's lab.
Research Interests: Genetics of adaptation, epigenetics
Pierre hails from France. He received a bachelors and masters from the Ecole Polytechnique, with a major in Cellular and Molecular Biology.
He is interested in the genetic basis of adaptation in Arabidopsis arenosa. He is especially interested in studying the role of epigenetic regulation in the vernalization response in rock outcrop arenosas (which is lost in railway habitats). Pierre did an internship in Rob Martienssen's lab at Cold Spring Harbor before joining us here.
Research Interests: Genetic and ecological basis of adaptation and speciation.
Franchesco graduated from the Universidad del Valle, Colombia with a B.S. in Biology with emphasis on Genetics. Then he did an internship in Harilaos Lessios’ Lab at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute studying reproductive proteins and their relation to speciation in Sea Urchins. He received a M.S. also from the Universidad del Valle, where he studied molecular phylogenetics and speciation in Neotropical plants with Alejandra Jaramillo.
Research Interests: Molecular and evolutionary genetics of meiosis.
Current Undergraduates and Interns
(Harvard University). Julie has been in the lab since fall 2011. She started out working primarily on flowering time in A. arenosa, but has also applied her talents to other projects in the lab. She is also interested in the molecular evolution of meiosis genes in polyploids and is initiating a senior thesis project in this area.
(Harvard University). John has been doing his senior thesis work with us in collaboration with Dan Hartl and Levi Yant. He is updating models for tetraploid inheritance for use with genome data and is building an R module for public release.
Levi Yant: (Harvard University). Levi has been working with us on genome scans comparing diploid and tetraploid A. arenosa and is now applying his skills to other species to ask whether similar mechanisms are under selection.
Nancy Kleckner: (Harvard University, MCB). Nancy Kleckner has been instrumental in discussion of ideas related to mechanisms of meiosis and the idea that crossover interference might be stronger in tetraploids. Brian Arnold is also working on tetraploid yeast in the Kleckner lab, and Dr. Kleckner is a co-sponsor of Kevin Wright's NRSA.
F. Chris H. Franklin and James D. Higgins: (University of Birmingham, UK and University of Leicester, UK). We have a fruitfull collaborating with the Franklin and Higgins labs on cytology of diploid and tetraploid A. arenosa.
Dan Hartl: (Harvard University, OEB). Dan Hartl and his student Russ Corbett-Detig collaborated with us on our work on RADseq biases and we have an ongoing collaboration to develop a set of neutral expectations for polyploid evolution that will account for some of the bizarre things polyploids do. We have joint lab meetings with the Hartl lab, and value our ongoing discussions.
John Wakeley: (Harvard University, OEB). John Wakeley collaborated with us working with Brian Arnold to generate a coalescent model for autotetraploids. We are also planning another project to study the history of selection in diploid A. arenosa.
Summer 2014. Left to right: Sandra Escobar, Franchesco Molina-Henao, Pierre Baduel, Holly Elmore, Brian Arnold, Julie Vu, Andrew Lloyd, Jeremy O'Connell, Kirsten Bomblies, Levi Yant (honorary lab member and happy collaborator), John Pulice, Kevin Wright, and on the table: Ben Hunter.
Spring 2013. Left to right: Brian Arnold, Kirsten Bomblies, Julie Vu, Ben Hunter, Pierre Baduel, Kevin Wright, Masooma Naseer Cheema, Katherine Xue.
Summer 2012 gang. Left to right: Katherine Xue, Grace Daher, Yanniv Dorone, Kristin Tsuo, Sara Zhou, Kirsten Bomblies, Brian Arnold, Ben Hunter, Julie Vu, Kevin Wright.
The lab group, fall 2010. From left to right: Jesse Hollister, Kirsten Bomblies, Ben Hunter, Kathryn Solórzano-Lowell, Brian Arnold, Mark Arnold, April Dobbs.
Lab graduates (in reverse chronological order)
(Acton-Boxborough High School). Summer intern 2014. Sarang is off to the University of Maryland!
(Roxbury Latin High School). Summer intern 2014.
(Cornell University). Summer intern 2012 and fall 2013-2014. Worked on flowering in A. arenosa. She now works as a research assistant at Dana Farber.
(Lexington High School). High school intern from fall 2012 to spring 2014 via Cambridge Science Club for Girls. Dina is off to college at Case Western Reserve University!
(Harvard University). Katherine did her senior thesis in our lab from fall 2011 - spring 2013. She rewrote it for a general audience and won the prestigious Bowdoin prize for her work.
Intern from Lyon, France spring/summer 2012. Working on meiosis in tetraploid A. arenosa.
(Lawrenceville High School, Lawrenceville, NJ; Summer 2012). Flowering time in A. arenosa.
(Masters student, OEB, 2010-2012). Seed dispersal in A. arenosa.
(Postdoc 2009 - 2012). Genomics of Arabidopsis arenosa. He is currently doing a second postdoc at the University of Toronto with Stephen Wright and Marc Johnson working on Oenothera. Jesse recently obtained a faculty position at Stony Brook University.
Senior thesis student (Harvard, OEB program, 2011-12). Flowering time in A. arenosa.
(Harvard University, spring 2012). Seed dispersal in A. arenosa.
(UMass Boston, part-time research 2010-2011). Hybrid necrosis in A. thaliana.
(Part-time intern 2010-2011). Hybrid necrosis in A. thaliana.
Summer undergraduate research in Harvard's PRISE program (Summer 2011).
Undergraduate research assistant (Fall 2010-Spring 2011).
(Boston College, senior thesis 2010-2011). Went to University of Minnesota medical school.
Joshua St. Louis
(Technician 2009-2010) went to Tufts Medical school.