Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
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 alphabetical 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 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. Otherwise, Ben enjoys water, snow and ball sports and various other forms of entertainment (Sudoku and Tetris).
As an evolutionary biologist, I am interested in understanding fundamental questions regarding the maintenance of variation and adaptation to novel environments. My 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 species inhabiting diploid and autotetraploid cytological environments. 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, I will be conducting detailed cytological work to monitor chromosome segregation and genetic transformation of divergent alleles of critical meiotic genes.
This research builds on my PhD work in evolutionary genetics with the Willis and Rausher labs at Duke University. I studied the genomic and physiological basis of adaptation to copper mine tailings in the wildflower, Mimulus guttatus. I 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 my one-year postdoc, I expanded my 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, I am conducting experiments aimed at understanding the functional molecular, genetic, and cytological mechanisms underlying adaptation to novel environments.
Graduate Students (in alphabetical 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 under 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 seen in rock outcrop arenosas (but lost in railway habiats). Pierre is from France. He did an internship in Rob Martienssen's lab at Cold Spring Harbor before joining us at Harvard.
Current Undergraduates and Interns
(Harvard University). Julie has been in the lab since fall 2011. She is working primarily on flowering time in A. arenosa, but also applies her talents to other projects in the lab. She is also interested in the molecular evolution of meiosis genes in polyploids.
(Harvard University). Senior thesis student.
Katherine has been in the lab since fall 2011 and is studying functional variation and molecular evolution of meiosis genes in A. arenosa, focusing particularly on the chromosome synapsis genes ASYNAPSIS1.
(Lexington High School). High school intern since fall 2012 via Cambridge Science Club for Girls. Dina is studying the molecular evolution of meiosis genes in A. arenosa, under the guidance of Kevin Wright.
Spring 2013. Left to right: Brian Arnold, Kirsten Bomblies, Julie Vu, Ben Hunter, Pierre Baduel, Kevin Wrigh, 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)
(Cornell University). Summer intern 2012, working on flowering time in A. arenosa.
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.
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. And yes, he's Brian's brother.
Joshua St. Louis (Technician 2009-2010) went to Tufts Medical school.