2016 Graduate Researcher of the Year

2016 Graduate Researcher of the Year


In conservation, we can do a much better job of protecting species, if we had a little bit more information about the species biology.
And it can be really time consuming and expensive to go and do field studies, or we can take just a few drops of blood, take that back to the lab, and do some genetic
work, which can tell us all sorts of things about the past of the species, and information about the
future. So the focus of my research is using genetic information to design conservation
strategies for the Galapagos tortoises. One species that we’re looking at in particular is the Pinzon tortoise. And it’s one of the most endangered species of tortoise in the
world. Despite this, its manashuritane, or remarkable amount of genetic diversity,
and we’re trying to figure out how that is possible. One of the unique things about
using the Pinzon tortoises as a study system, is that, more than a hundred years ago 86 specimens were collected. And so now, using modern genetic techniques, we can collect genetic information from these museum specimens and compare that to the contemporary population which will help
us better understand the flow of genetic diversity through time. Evelyn really has
it all. She thinks about what she’s doing, and why she’s doing it. I think her
research really shows the importance of including genetic information, in informing conservation strategies. On one hand, we’re hoping to directly inform conservation
of the Galapagos tortoises. On the other hand, we’re trying to gain greater insights into how
genetic diversity moves through time. It’s really gratifying to be recognized for
all the research I’ve done. I’ve had a lot of wonderful collaborators with every
project I’ve done, and I’m surrounded by so much wonderful research here to be
recognized is, really nice!

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