My name is Joaquin Nunez and my pronouns are He/Him (Spanish: El). I am an evolutionary biologist working to understand the genetic basis of adaptation. Over the past seven years of my career, I have been fascinated by an old question in evolutionary biology: can populations elicit rapid adaptive responses to maximize their fitness in highly fluctuating environments? My current research investigates patterns of genetic variation in natural and semi-natural lines of D. melanogaster exposed to seasonally varying selection. Orchard flies are a premier system to tackle this issue since, they must adapt quickly to track the seasonally changing fitness landscape. For example, flies living in temperate regions experience strong temporal variation due to seasonality. My research provides insights of whether rapid evolution undermines or synergizes with the current zeitgeist of population genetics. This project is part of the larger research program led by Dr. Alan Bergland at UVA.

My doctoral and master's thesis research studied patterns of genetic variation in natural populations of the circumboreal barnacle Semibalanus balanoides. I characterized what loci are under selection at different scales of environmental heterogeneity in intertidal habitats, i.e. upper/lower intertidal, estuaries, etc. My primary goal was to determine the identity of these ecologically important loci (i.e., whether selection is more pervasive in regulatory regions vs. protein coding regions), as well as the mechanisms that underlie their maintenance of genetic variation. As an inhabitant of a boundary ecosystem between areal and marine habitats, genomic studies on S. balanoides provide an invaluable opportunity to gain novel insights into micro-evolutionary responses to climate change. I conducted my research under the mentorship of David M. Rand at Brown University. I also did extensive collaborative work with members of the The Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology: Kerstin JohannessonAnders Blomberg, and Magnus Rosenblad, working in different aspects of barnacle genomics and ecology. Part of this work was done at Tjärnö Lovéncentret in Sweden. 


My undergraduate studies were conducted on the mitochondrial genomics of the marine teleost Fundulus heteroclitus with Margie F. Oleksiak and Doug L. Crawford at the University of Miami



2020 - Ph.D.

Brown University

Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

2018 - Sc.M.

Brown University

Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology


2015 - Sc.B.

University of Miami (summa cum laude)

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

APPOINTMENTS (Recent & Current )



Research Associate

University of Virginia

Dept. of Biology




Brown University

Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology


I currently serve in the lesson design team, and co-instructor, for the upcoming UVA's leadership essentials seminar: The Biological Myth of Race (with Prof. Alan O. Bergland; 2021-present). Prior to this position, I served as an Advisor and Member Emeritus of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion university-wide task force “Diversity Influencers” of the University of Virginia, (2021 – 2022). I served in the inaugural board in the 2020-2021 academic year. During that tenure I helped organize events such as the winter diversity retreat and the multidisciplinary panel "COVID in contex", where various experts from education, history, data science, and medicine discussed challenges and opportunities to address equity and justice emerging from the 2020 pandemic.  I also serve as a member of the Postdoctoral Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. University of Virginia, Charlottesville (VA, 2020 – 2022)

I have conducted various educational outreach projects. During my time at Brown I worked with the team from the Brown Junior researchers program. This outreach program with the boys and girls club of Rhode Island that helps students from grades 1 – 5 conduct basic scientific experiments. Our goal is to bring science to the community and get little kids exited about the natural world. Prior to that, I worked with  STEM FYE program at Miami Dade College in Miami, FL. The main goal of these endeavors is to expose high school students, mostly of underrepresented backgrounds in science, to scientific research.