Group Members

John Novembre


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.

Mashaal Sohail

Postdoctoral Fellow

Mashaal is a postdoctoral fellow in the Chicago Fellows Program. She is currently jointly advised by John Novembre and Andres Moreno-Estrada for her post-doctoral work. She is the lead population genetics analyst of the Mexican Biobank Project, and is focused on the genetic architecture and evolution of complex traits, and fine-scale human population structure during her post-doc. Previously, she was in graduate school at Harvard University where she completed a PhD in Systems Biology working with Shamil Sunyaev, and a Masters of Arts in History of Science. Her projects during graduate school focused on natural selection covering topics in allelic age, balancing selection, purifying selection and polygenic adaptation, as well as the history and epistemology of these concepts. She is deeply interested in the intersection of genetics, anthropology and history, and evolutionary thought as it applies to how we view the world and ourselves.

Xinyi Li

PhD Student in the Genetics, Genomics and Systems Biology Program

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.

Chi-Chun Liu

MS Student in the Human Genetics program

His interests are in statistical methodology for analyzing genetic data, especially with regards to population structure. Most recently he has worked on analyses of ancient DNA from Tibetan populations, a book chapter on methods for analyzing population structure in genetic data, and a project on infering thg strength of negative selection in the presence of linked selection. Chi-Chun has a master’s in statistics from the University of Chicago, and earlier training in financial mathematics.

Heather Skeen

PhD Student in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology program

Heather’s research focuses on understanding variation in the microbiomes of migratory birds across the annual cycle and how prevalence of avian malaria changes over time. She is a research affiliate with the Field Museum of Natural History.


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.

  • Arjun Biddanda : PhD in Human Genetics, 2020. Postdoctoral fellow in Pier Palamara Group (Oxford).
  • Dan Rice: Chicago Fellow, 2017-2020. Data Scientist Outreach Coordinator at NCBI.
  • Joe Marcus: PhD in Human Genetics, 2020. Bioinformatic Scientists at Grail, Inc.
  • Harald Ringbauer: Postdoctoral fellow, 2018-2019. Group leader at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  • Christian Porras : Undergraduate researcher. Now an MD/PhD student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
  • Hussein Al-asadi: PhD student in Committee of Evolutionary Biology, Masters in Statistcs, 2018. Data scientist at Adaptive biotech.
  • Evan Koch: PhD student in Ecology & Evolution, 2018. Postdoctoral fellow with Shamil Sunyaev at Harvard.
  • Joel Smith: PhD student in Ecology & Evolution, 2018. Scientist at Zymeworks.
  • Ben Peter: Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-2017. Group leader at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  • Mark Reppell: Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-2017. Senior scientist at Abbvie Genomics.
  • Diego Ortega Del Vecchyo: PhD student in Bioinformatics, 2016. Group leader, Institute for Human Genomics in Mexico.
  • Charleston Chiang: Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-2015. Assistant Professor, Center for Genetic Epidemiology, Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California.
  • Alex Platt: Research Associate, 2011-2014. Research Assistant Professor, Center for Computational Genetics and Genomics at Temple University.
  • Eunjung/Christine Han: PhD student in Biostatistics, 2014. Research Scientist at Amazon Alexa Machine Learning.
  • Darren Kessner: PhD student in Bioinformatics, 2014. Computer science faculty at Marlborough School.
  • Adam Freedman: NSF Bioinformatics Postdoctoral Fellow, 2009-2012. Data Scientist in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Informatics Group at Harvard University.
  • Colin Rundel: PhD student in Statistics, Joint advised with Jan de Leeuw, 2012. ‘Professor of the practice’ at Duke.
  • Daniel Wegmann: Postdoctoral fellow, 2009-2011. Professor in Computational Biology, University of Fribourg.
  • David Alexander: PhD student in Biomathematics and Collaborator advised by Ken Lange. 2011. Bioinformatics at Google.
  • Krishna Veeramah: Center for Society and Genetics Postdoctoral fellow, 2008-2010. Associate Professor, Department of Ecology & Evolution, Stony Brook University.

Photo Gallery

A small sampling from over the ages…

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