Sarah Mullinax joins the lab and wins a Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship

Sarah Mullinax decided to returned to the lab after completing her rotations.  At about the same time, she was awarded a Self Graduate Fellowship which provides full support for her for four years. Self Fellows "demonstrate the promise to make significant contributions to their fields of study and society as a whole." We certainly agree that Sarah is highly qualified and we are thrilled to have her.

Jo Chapman joins the lab!

In January (on inauguration day), Jo Chapman joined the lab as postdoc to work on the evolution of gene duplication using Drosophila immune genes as a model. Jo is from New Zealand, and completed her PhD at Oxford and a postdoc at Linnaeus University in Sweden. As a PhD student, she worked on mating behavior in great tits, then moved to the mallard immune defense for her postdoc. Drosophila is a new venture for her, but birds are basically just warm-blooded flies.

Gene drive resistance paper in Genetics (and a cover!)

Philipp Messer, Andy Clark and I have a new paper out in Genetics about the evolution of resistance to gene drives (specifically CRISPR drives).  Philipp should get most of the credit for this work.  In the paper, we find that resistance is almost inevitable in a simple, single gRNA gene drive system. Our results build on several previous papers showing resistance was likely, by using the branching process machinery derived by Uecker and Hermisson (2011 - here) for the probability of fixation of alleles in changing environments.  After the paper was accepted, I contacted Kent Smith, a friend who I met at the Lawrence Library Lego Club, about designing a cover.  He took the idea and ran with it and now we have "The Attack of the 50 Foot Mosquito," quite a departure from the standard Genetics cover!

Kent Smith's cover art

Kent Smith's cover art

Recruiting students for Drosophila genetics (and beyond)


The University of Kansas has a contingent of Drosophila geneticists including Justin Blumenstiel, Jenny Gleason, Stuart Macdonald, me, Rob Ward and Jamie Walters (who actually studies butterflies but asking similar questions).  Our strengths are in evolutionary genetics and development.  We span two departments: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (application deadline 12/1) and Molecular Biosciences (application deadline 12/15).  Please check out our website: or contact me for more information.

Congratulations Tom Hill!

Tom is the recipient of Max Kade Fellowship for his proposal entitled “'The pathogenicity and host response of Drosophila innubila Nudivirus.”  The goal is to establish Drosophila innubila nudivirus (DiNV) as the DNA virus model for Drosophila.  This work will allow us to understand how other DNA viruses, such as Herpes viruses and Pox viruses, interact with the host, so we can better understand these human diseases.  Tom is also the recipient of an Austrian Federal Minister of Science, Research and Economy Award for Excellence 2016 for his doctoral dissertation entitled 'Hybrid dysgenesis in Drosophila simulans associated with a rapid global invasion of the P-element.”