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Current Research Interests

As a Ph.D. student and member of the Primate Genetics & Molecular Ecology lab at Washington University in Saint Louis and under the advisory of Dr. Emily Wroblewski, I have developed my dissertation research to focus on rapidly evolving immunogenomics and how it relates to patterns of disease in wild populations, and how natural selection influences the co-evolution between primates and microbes, particularly among hybridizing species.

Contact Information

Primate Immunity & Microbiome

Studying primate immune systems through an evolutionary lens allows us to observe how these species have been shaped by their interactions with pathogenic, mutualistic, and commensal microbes.

*Microbiome icons Created with BioRender.com

*Primate sketches created by Elijah Klauder

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The Gastrointestinal Tract Ecosystem

There are two components of the gastrointestinal microbiome that are of personal interest. The gastrointestinal Virome and the Bacteriome have been shown to influence and be influenced by the immune system. Therefore, studying their composition under natural selection together with hybridization can help our understanding of modern humans’ susceptibility to disease and their co-evolution with microorganisms, and modern human immunogenomics are influenced by their ancient hybridization with and genomic introgression from other archaic hominins.

*Biological figures Created with BioRender.com

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Naturally Occurring Hybridization

I am particularly interested in how naturally-occurring hybridization in primates drives genomic variation and how genomic variation influences the microbiome within the gastrointestinal tract.

*Primate Sketches created by Anya Mears

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HIV and SIV

In addition, I am particularly interested in how human and non-human (simian) immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV). Unlike humans infected with HIV, many natural primate hosts of SIV do not develop AIDS-like symptoms despite high viral loads. These particular species are referred to as “non-progressors”. Understanding how these non-progressor species are able to co-exist with SIV is a long-term research interest of mine.

*Virus icons Created with BioRender.com

*Primate sketches created by Elijah Klauder

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