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P.I. Joaquin C.B. Nunez


I am an evolutionary biologist and population geneticist working to understand the genetic basis of adaptation. I am also a Henderson-Harris Fellow, an incoming Assistant Professor of Biology (starting 08/2024), and a Principal Investigator at The University of Vermont.


My post-doctoral research (2020-2023) investigated 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 post-doc research provided insights into the evolutionary dynamics of rapid adaptation and the role of chromosomal inversions in seasonal adaptive tracking. This work was done under the guidance of Prof. Alan Bergland at the University of Virginia.

For my graduate thesis (2015-2020), I 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 Prof. David M. Rand at Brown University. I also did extensive collaborative work with members of the Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology: Prof. Kerstin Johannesson, Prof. Anders Blomberg (now retired), and Dr. 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 (2013-2015) were conducted on the mitochondrial genomics of the marine teleost Fundulus heteroclitus with Profs. Margie F. Oleksiak and Doug L. Crawford in the Marine Genomics lab at the University of Miami.

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