Kimberly Julie Gilbert
Population genetics, theoretical population biolog...
Our research focuses on the impact that complex demographic histories have on evolutionary processes in populations through time and space. The interactions of mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection can be greatly altered in non-equilibrium scenarios. And the relative importance of genetic drift versus selection is highly debated in the field of evolutionary biology. We study these evolutionary processes in non-equilibrium scenarios through a combination of theoretical and empirical approaches to inform our understanding of local adaptation, mutation load, evolution of recombination modifiers, and the distribution of fitness effects for new mutations (DFE).
The current main focus is to investigate the interplay of species range expansions with adaptation and maladaptation across environments, as species move in response to global climate change. We are also interested in how evolutionary shifts in mating system interact with this demographic process, and when such shifts are evolutionarily advantageous or not. These questions are addressed both theoretically and using data collected across Europe from an alpine plant species, Arabis alpina.
A part of the group's research is devoted to methods testing, evaluating to a greater extent the biases that can arise when applying common evolutionary inference methods to complex natural settings. This is mainly done through simulation approaches, but also can include comparisons to analysis in genomic data collected from nature.
Smaller projects are always available and welcome for interested Masters or Bachelors students. Topics of interest span the spectrum of population genetics, with potential areas of study including the impact of recombination and/or genomic inversions on local adaptation or genetic load, the role of structural variation in adaptation, the impact of selfing on species range expansions, or many more possibilities. We are a new, young, and small group with lots of interactions, so please contact us if interested in learning more!