We study the evolutionary genetics of sexual selection and sexual conflict, primarily with the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and a combination of phenotypic and genomic approaches. A major aim is to better understand the ways sexual selection constrains and facilitates adaptation, in particular with respect to the evolution of differences between the sexes. A recurrent feature of our work is the use of experimental evolution, where replicated populations evolve in manipulated environments and are tracked in real time. Unlike research focused on past evolutionary change that relies largely on inference via correlation, experimental evolution allows us to directly test predictions of evolutionary theory and often leads to exciting and unexpected outcomes.
Check out the research tab for a description of the different projects in the lab.
5/2/23: The whole lab just finished a month-long outreach project at Meadow Glen Middle School where we taught all of the 8th grade science classes the fundamentals of Mendelian genetics using flies and classic fly phenotypes (a new part of the SC state curriculum for 8th graders).
4/21/23: Skylar received an honorable mention for her poster at Discover USC on reproductive isolation between laboratory Drosophila populations!
4/1/23: Claudia’s paper that manipulated sexual selection in evolving mosquito populations is out in Current Biology here. We found that removing sexual selection causes rapid genome-wide divergence and identified a chemosensory gene important for male mating success.
1/31/23: Samantha received a SPARC Graduate Research Grant that will allow her to extend her Ph.D. dissertation, congratulations Samantha!
8/4/22: Sakshi has successfully defended her dissertation! Sakshi dealt with a change of institutions and a global pandemic right in the middle of her Ph.D. and nevertheless put together a great dissertation focused on sexual selection and immunity. Congratulations, Dr. Sharda!
7/28/22: We received funding from the National Science Foundation that will support our experimental speciation project for the next several years!
6/26/22: Samantha and Claudia both did a great job presenting parts of their dissertation work at the Evolution 2022 meeting in Cleveland.
5/20/22: Congratulations to Graham, who received the Outstanding Biological Sciences Senior Award for the Department of Biological Sciences at USC!
4/22/22: Graham presented the early results from our reinforcement experimental evolution project at Discover USC, earning 2nd place in the poster competition.
3/27/22: At the SEPEEG meeting in Georgia, Samantha gave a talk about her work on the seminal fluid protein Acp29AB and Graham presented a poster on our experimental reinforcement project.
2/12/22: Sakshi’s paper testing for a role for sexual selection in fly adaptation to Pseudomonas entomophila infection is out here.
11/22/21: Claire successfully defended her Honors college thesis!
9/6/21: We have a new paper out in Evolution today (here) where we used a modeling approach to ask how the softness of selection (the scale at which competition takes place) influences the evolution of sexual dimorphism in different mating systems.