I got my start in this field through a combination of enjoying computer programming as a hobby and thinking about evolution as one of the world’s most fascinating natural processes. Now, my main research tackles statistical and theoretical problems to help enable discoveries about evolutionary processes and the nature of disease variation. Much of that work is in the context of human genetic variation, which is doubly fascinating because of the connections to fields like linguistics, archaeology, and history. For my training, I earned my undergrad degree in biochemistry at the Colorado College, studied for my PhD in Integrative Biology (with a designated emphasis in Computational Biology & Genomics) at UC-Berkeley under Montgomery Slatkin, and did a postdoc in Human Genetics at Chicago with Matthew Stephens. My first faculty position was in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at UCLA and then I returned to the University of Chicago in 2013. Outside of my work I enjoy travel, music, and a variety of different outdoor sports.
Xinyi is interested in studying natural selection and the evolution of complex traits to increase our understanding on disease mechanism, especially immune traits. Prior to joining the lab, Xinyi worked on statistical method development for estimating disease heritability in admixed populations.
Ahmed is broadly interested in utilizing methods from physics and probabilistic modeling to understand evolving populations, especially scale-dependent processes. Prior to joining the lab, he worked on the ecology and evolution of microbial metabolic networks.
Maggie is interested in studying spatial processes in evolution and impacts on human disease traits. Her current research focuses on the impact of geographic sampling and dispersal on rare variant ascertainment and models for the spatial spread of adaptive alleles. Prior to joining the lab, she graduated from George Washington University with a BS in Mathematics and studied evolutionary genomics in retroviruses.
Marida is interested in studying how genetics and the environment interact to create geographic patterns of variation in complex traits - and the implications of this on GWAS. Before coming to Chicago, she earned an MSc in Bioinformatics from the University of Copenhagen, where she was exploring the genetics of dietary adaptation in the Stone Age, in the Racimo lab. (When not at her desk, Marida can be found painting portraits and learning to dance the Electric Boogaloo.)
Sherif is broadly interested in evolutionary and population genetics. His current research focuses on the interaction between long distance dispersal and local adaptation, as well as the evolution of quantitative traits under stabilizing selection. Prior to joining the lab, he graduated from University of Rochester with a BS computational biology and BA data science, where he studied population genetics and evolution of tandem repeats in fruit flies in larracuente lab. Outside of work, Sherif enjoys playing chess and skateboarding.
Hannah’s PhD training was in archaeology and genetics, specializing in questions of connectivity in the Mediterranean. For her postdoctoral fellowship, she is leading interdiscplinary projects with continued emphasis on themes of temporal changes in connectivity.
Hao’s expertise is in theoretical population genetics and statistical genetics. His PhD work included an analysis of causal inference in the presence of direct and indirect genetics effects. For his postdoctoral research, he will be investigating models of time-varying migration rate in spatial population genetics.
Luke is interested in visualizing the spatial distribution of genetic variation. His PhD work included the analysis of genetic, genealogical and geographic data from Quebec.
After more than ten years now as a lab, we have an even spread of alumni that have gone into academics and industry. Thus far, geographically our alumni can be found in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, and Germany. While we work in a university setting and train ourselves in the practice of research and teaching, this prepares our alumni for a broad set of careers.
A small sampling from over the ages…
Lab trip to the Field Museum to see Heather’s samples and the broader bird collection, Spring 2022
Celebrating Xinyi’s prelims on John’s boat and with friends of the lab, Summer 2021
Lab photo, Fall 2019
Lab and friends’ send-off for Jonatas, Summer 2019
Lab dinner showing Harald Chicago BBQ, Fall 2017
Lab dinner and dessert, 2016
Lab skating at the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon with Jeremy and Meredith, Winter 2016
Novembre Lab and friends, Spring 2012