Our NIH MIRA (Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award) has been funded by the National Institute for General Medical Sciences! Using a combination of controlled-laboratory and semi-wild field studies, our research will exploit natural variation in populations of the North American Deer Mouse as a means to dissect the genetic and molecular mechanisms by which natural selection reshapes physiology in the process of adaptation to high altitude. Stay tuned for research highlights!
New Paper in Nat Comm!
Check out our latest paper from a collaboration with Shane Campbell-Staton and Kirsten Winchell where we explore natural selection on gene expression plasticity in urban anoles!
Peter Nimlos, our newest student, officially starts his masters degree! We are excited to welcome Peter, who has been working hard in the field this summer. Peter will be studying convergent adaptations to high-altitude across species of Peromyscus.
We’re thrilled to have arrived to the mile high city! Check back soon for updates. And if you are a student at any level, or postdoc, who is interested in our work, please contact me! We are recruiting for fall 2021!
University of Denver
I am incredibly excited to be starting as an Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Denver (https://science.du.edu/biology), starting September 2020! I am so excited to join an amazing biology department, and most especially this dynamic group of eco-evo biologist (https://dueeb.weebly.com/).
We are recruiting! Do you want to work at the interface of physiology and evolutionary biology? Do you have an interest in vertebrates? Are you curious about how animals adapt to extreme environments, such as the highest places in Colorado? If you are a prospective student looking for MS or PhD programs for Fall 2021, and these topics interest you, get in touch with me! See the Contact Me page
New website is up!
Well, an updated version anyhow! And now at http://jvelotta.com. Check out my most up-to-date CV and research highlights
Evolution talk online
I had the pleasure of speaking at a symposium on the role of phenotypic plasticity in evolution at the Evolution 2018 in Montpellier France recently. My talk on the role of maladaptive plasticity in adaptation to high-altitude can be viewed below. It features new unpublished work from an experiment using 6 species of Peromyscus as well data from my recent papers in Evolution and Integrative and Comparative Biology.
As of April 2017, I’ve been accepted as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Montana! My project will explore the physiological and fitness consequences of selection on Epas1, a master regulator of the body’s response to hypoxia. This gene is under strong natural selection in highland populations of deer mice, as well as humans, wolves, and many other mammals native to high-elevations.
Here is how this project is relevant to the NIHs goals:
The disruption of oxygen homeostasis is a crucial feature in the pathophysiology of many common and devastating diseases, including heart disease, chronic lung disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Populations (e.g., highland Tibetan humans) that have adapted to high-altitude environments are protected from the negative effects of extremely low oxygen availability (hypoxia), in part because they have modified a key hypoxia-signaling pathway known as the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) cascade. I propose to use deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), which have naturally adapted to high-altitude, as a model to determine the molecular and genetic mechanisms by which heart, lung, and blood responses to hypoxia benefit from Darwinian selection on the HIF cascade. A mechanistic understanding of adaptation to hypoxia will yield insight into novel therapies in the treatment of diseases related to the loss of oxygen homeostasis.
Successful field season!
Team deer mouse just finished up a successful field season at Mt. Evans CO testing for the effects of variation in the epas1 gene on metabolic performance and breathing under hypoxia. Check the Projects tab soon for more exciting details!
New publication exploring the evolution of non-shivering thermogenesis in high-altitude mice. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mec.13661/full