I apply molecular genetic techniques and statistical population genetics to a variety of basic and applied problems. I use evolutionary approaches to study the genetics of complex diseases, such as autism and COVID-19. This work also involves the development of new bioinformatic tools at the single-gene to genomic levels. I also apply evolutionary genetics to conservation biology, with my main current efforts being the impact of managed forest fires at the landscape level upon the genetic population structure of species inhabiting that landscape, and the impact of human activities upon dispersal in endangered species. Finally, I am interested in basic questions about evolution, such as the meaning of “species”, the mechanisms by which new species evolve, coadapted gene complexes, the evolutionary impact of non-random mutagenesis at the molecular level upon adaptive evolution in humans, the biological signficance of race in humans, and human evolution over the last two million years.

Some Current Research Projects

  • Co-expression of genes in Alzheimer’s disease
  • The role of deletions and co-expression in autism
  • The conservation biology of the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly in North America
  • The landscape genetics of collared lizards in the Ozarks
  • The conservation biology of the endangered salamander Salamandra infraimaculata in Northern Israel
  • Gene expression in diverse habitats in the genus Salamandra
  • The landscape genetics and conservation biology of the endangered wild ass in the Negev Desert of Israel
  • The evolutionary impact of non-random mutagenesis
  • An evolutionary perspective on race in humans

Collaborators and Colleagues:

Charles Sing (University of Michigan) – Human genetics of complex diseases

Sharlee Climer (University of Missouri at St. Louis) – Bioinformatics

Dan Jacobson and Michael R. Garvin (Oakridge National Laboratory) – Genetics of autism, multiomics of symptom heterogeneity in COVID-19

Arne Nolte (University of Oldenberg) – Salamander gene expression

Shirli Bar-David and Amos Bouskila (Ben Gurion University) – Wild ass of the Negev

Daniel Rubenstein (Princeton University) – Wild ass of the Negev

Jennifer Neuwald (Colorado State University) and Amy Conley (New York Natural Heritage Program, Albany, New York) – Collared lizard landscape genetics

Adi Livnant (University of Haifa) – Non-random mutagenesis