Post Doctoral Researcher - University of Pittsburgh



I am a evolutionary geneticist that uses development to better understand how morphology has evolved. I have focused on sexually dimorphic traits, as they are some of the fastest evolving morphological features. For my graduate thesis, I worked in the lab of Dr. Artyom Kopp. I focused on the role of the expression patterns and enhancers of the transcription factor doublesex on the size of the sex comb, thickened bristles present on male forelegs. For my postdoc, I am working on the evolution of the genitalia in the lab of Dr. Mark Rebeiz. Differences in genital morphology are often the only reliable characters to differentiate closely related species. I am working with Dr. Rebeiz to increase the genetic and developmental tools available this system as well as generate independent projects that are focused on the role of Gene Regulatory Networks in the divergence of phallic morphology.


D. immigrans sex brush

We find that the number of Velcro like bristles of the male forelegs (sex brush) of Drosophila immigrans species group correlates with the expression of the key sex differentiation factor doublesex.

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Standardized terminology of terminalia

The terminalia (genitalia and analia) are one of the fastest evolving structures in animals, however the terminology used to describe them has become far too complex. We as a consortium of 13 research laboratories have proposed a standardized set of terms to facilitate interdisciplinary communication and help newcomers in this field.

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D. eugracilis phallic trichomes

The the phallic sheath of Drosophila eugracilis is covered by small spike shaped structures, while in other species such as Drosophila melanogaster this the phallic sheath is composed of smooth cuticle. We have shown that these large projections are produced by the single cells and are investigating the genes and cellular mechanisms that establish these novel structures.

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Sex comb enhancers of doublesex

We find that the sex combs(blunt and darkly pigmented) and chemosensory bristles (tasting bristles) of the male foreleg of Drosophila melanogaster are controlled by gene regulatory regions (enhancers) of the gene doublesex.

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Homology of Drosophila phallic projections

The Drosophila phallus of closely related species show dramatic differences in their spike like projections. However, the homology of these structures in Drosophila has been highly debated. We clarify the homology of these structures by determining if they develop from the same or different tissues.

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Atlas of genital transcription factors

The genitalia are compose of set of complex tissue types, yet we lack extensive knowledge on how it’s structures are designated. We have developed an database showing the expression patterns of 100 highly expressed Transcription Factors in the developing genitalia.

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