I have two complimentary interests in the field of molecular biology and evolution: molecular and organismal evolution. My focus is on researching patterns and organization of genetic variation, and subsequently on using molecular variation and properties of the coalescent to investigate historical evolutionary processes in avian systems. Specifically, I am interested in what present-day molecular variation and organization can tell us about population history and the evolution of species (the answer is a lot!: population sizes at speciation and how these reflect various models of speciation, divergence times, rates of migration, rates of recombination). My previous work has explored patterns of variation at neutral (mitochondrial DNA and introns) and non-neutral (Mhc) loci and their implications for speciation in the auklets, a group of five North Pacific seabirds. Through collaboration with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, I have had the opportunity to participate in seabird monitoring projects conducted throughout the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. I also am very interested in issues concerning the accuracy of phylogenetic reconstruction. Currently, I am designing a project to characterize organization and variation in a region of the avian major histocompatibility complex. I plan to use results of this study to investigate patterns of variation in widespread seabird species. Here is a great link to various web sites in molecular biology and evolution (selected journals, databases, and other evolution web sites): http://chopo.pntic.mec.es/~biolmol/links1.htm
Eduation: BSc(H), Dept. of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, 1996 and MSc, Dept. of Biology, Queen's University, 1999.
Walsh, H. E., Moum, T., Kidd, M. G., and Friesen, V. L. 1999. Polytomies and the power of phylogenetic inference. Evolution 53(3), in press.
Friesen, V. L., Congdon, B. C., Walsh, H. E., and Birt, T. P. 1997. Intron variation in marbled murrelets detected using analyses of single-stranded conformational polymorphisms. Molecular Ecology 6:1047-1058.