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 with a designated emphasis in Computational Biology & Genomics at UC-Berkeley under Montgomery Slatkin, and did a short postdoc in Human Genetics at Chicago with Matthew Stephens. Previous to my faculty post at UChicago, I was faculty in the Ecology and Evolution Department at UCLA. Outside of my work I greatly enjoy travel, music, and outdoor adventures.

Daniel Rice

Postdoctoral Fellow

Daniel Rice is a postdoctoral fellow in the Chicago Fellows Program. He previously completed a PhD in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University where he studied with Michael Desai. He has worked on problems arising in the analysis of experimental evolution data as well as core issues in theoretical population genetics, such as evolution of the distribution of fitness effects and signatures of multi-merger coalescence.

Harald Ringbauer

Postdoctoral Fellow

Harald Ringbauer is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab. His work focuses on the development of methods to estimate current population structure from genetic data, especially using identity-by-descent tract data. Direct observations to infer demography are often very cumbersome, but the advent of population genomic datasets has opened a lot of new opportunities for this discipline, and Harald works on innovative ways to utilize these. Before joining the Novembre lab, he completed a PhD at IST Austria, supervised by Nick Barton .

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.

Arjun Biddanda

PhD Student

Arjun is a PhD student in the Department of Human Genetics. His work largely focuses on methods development for inference with both spatial and temporally structured genetic data, such as ancient DNA. Currently, his specific topics of interest are in the geographic distribution of functional genetic variants and multi-locus models with temporal structured samples. Prior to joining the lab, Arjun worked on the population genetics of Indian Jewish populations and methods for X-based GWAS

Joe Marcus

PhD Student

Joe is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and PhD student in the Department of Human Genetics. His primary interest is in developing and applying statistical methods with applications to genomic data. He first joined the lab as an intern and programmer where he worked extensively on the Geography of Genetic Variants Browser as well as our collaboration with the SardiNIA/Progenia project. Currently, Joe’s main projects include the analysis of a large-scale ancient DNA dataset from Sardinia and the development of a statistical method to visualize spatial heterogeneity.

Christian Porras

Undergraduate Researcher

Christian is an undergraduate student majoring in Biological Sciences with a specialization in Quantitative Biology. His work focuses on expanding population genetic theory, testing novel models for the evolution of the observed site frequency spectrum.


After 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, 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.

  • 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, 2013-2018. Academic postdoctoral position 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.
  • Mark Reppell: Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-2017. Senior scientist at Abbvie Genomics.
  • Diego Ortega Del Vecchyo: PhD student in Bioinformatics, 2016. Starting a group leader position, Institute for Human Genomics in Mexico.
  • Charleston Chiang: Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-2015. Tenure-track faculty at USC.
  • Alex Platt: Research Associate, 2011-2014. Research faculty at Temple.
  • Eunjung/Christine Han: PhD student in Biostatistics, 2014. Data science at Amazon.
  • Darren Kessner: PhD student in Bioinformatics, 2014. Computer science faculty at Marlborough School.
  • Adam Freedman: NSF Bioinformatics Postdoctoral Fellow, 2009-2012. Data scientist at Harvard.
  • 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. Tenure-track faculty at 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. Tenure-track faculty at Stony Brook University.