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PI: Andrea Betancourt

Current affiliation: University of Liverpool, Institute of Integrative Biology

Ph.D., supervised by Allen Orr at the University of Rochester

Former affiliations: University of Edinburgh, Vetmeduni Vienna

I am an evolutionary geneticist, working to answer questions about adaptation such as: Do sex and recombination allow rapid adaptation?  Does sex-linkage promote adaptation?   How do organisms adapt so rapidly to transposable element invasions? 

To address these questions, I mainly use flies from the genus Drosophila as a model, and apply genomics, population genetics, and Drosophila genetics, with an occasional foray into modelling.

Official University website

Google Scholar profile

Marie Curie Fellow: Valeria Romero Soriano

Valèria studied for her B. Sc. in Biotechnology and M. Sc. in Advanced Genetics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She then got a fellowship to start a PhD in Genetics in the Evolutionary Biology Group of the same university, under supervision of Dr. Pilar García Guerreiro. During her PhD, she assessed the impact of interspecific hybridization on the expression and regulation of transposable elements, using two Drosophila closely-related species -Drosophila buzzatii and D. koepferae- as a model. She came to Liverpool to work on selection on transposable elements in Drosophila melanogaster, but has now won an EC Marie Curie fellowship to work on transposon silencing in Drosophila males.

Postdoctoral Researcher: Ewan Harney

Ewan obtained his MBiolSci in Biology from the University of Sheffield and carried out his PhD at the University of Liverpool, studying developmental plasticity in the water flea Daphnia. Following his PhD he worked at the European Institute for Marine Studies (IUEM) in France. Subsequently he was awarded a LabexMer fellowship to work at the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer), where he investigated acclimation of great scallop populations to climate stress.  In his current project he is investigating the selective impact of transposable element variation in Drosophila melanogaster.

Postdoctoral Researcher: Jo Griffin

Jo studied for her B. Sc in Biological Sciences with Study in Continental Europe at the University of Birmingham, UK and University of Montpellier II, France before attaining a PhD in Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Liverpool, under the supervision of Prof Greg Hurst. During her PhD she investigated host factors that determine compatibility to novel endosymbiont infections, following a host-shift. Jo used the Spiroplasma/ Drosophila/ parasitoid wasp and the Arsenophonus/ Nasonia systems to address the tempo of evolution of compatibility and the role of gut microbiota and the immune system in determining compatibility. As a PDRA, she will  investigate host-transposable element relationships and transposable element invasions.

Research Technician: Rowan Connell

Rowan attained her B.Sc in Zoology and Genetics at the University of Liverpool and remained at the same institution to obtain an M.Res in Evolutionary Ecology.  She is now working on the fitness consequences of transposable elements.

MSc student: Flora Todd

Flora achieved their BSc in Zoology at the University of Liverpool before continuing to study there for their MSc in Evolution and Ecology. Their masters research involves investigating mating preference within Drosophila simulans as a source of reproductive isolation, potentially signifying the early stages of reproductive isolation. 

Summer intern: Rui Jia Wong

Rui is an undergraduate at the University of Liverpool. She is currently evaluating the impact of hybrid dysgenesis in the germline of D. simulans males and females, under a studentship awarded by the Genetics Society.

    Former members:

Tom Hill, Ph.D. 2016,  Vetmeduni Vienna

Currently a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Rob Unckless

working on host-parasite co-evolution in the Drosophila quinaria and testacea groups and the evolution of nucleopolyhedroviruses.  

Tom's Google Scholar profile

Awarded a Staatspreis für die besten Dissertationen

from the Austrian Ministry of Science

and a Max Kade Fellowship

from the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Olga Pawlowska, Ph.D. 2019, University of Liverpool

Olga got her B.Sc. at the University of Warsaw, then continued to get her M.Sc. in medical biotechnology at the same university, working on identifying genetic mutations in patients with mitochondrial disorders. For her PhD, she worked on adaptation to the P-element in Drosophila simulans, which is a sister species of the genetic model, and defended in May 2019-- congratulations Olga!

Erasmus Visitor: Claudia Rámirez

Claudia got her B. Sc. In Biology at the University of Granada, then attained her M. Sc. In Advanced Genetics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, working on polymorphic inversions in the human genome. She studied the effect of transposable elements on the fitness of Drosophila simulans. She returned to Spain in the summer of 2019.

Research Technician: Meg Kelly

Megan attained her MSci in Zoology at the University of Manchester. During her Integrated Masters she investigated the function of Notch3 in vascular smooth muscle cells and the role it played in vascular tone for CADASIL research.

She studied genetic variation in Drosophila simulans and transposable element suppression.

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