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Congratulations to the winners of the SMBE 2020 annual Faculty Awards

2020 SMBE Allan Wilson Junior Award for Independent Research Winner: Iain Mathieson

Iain Mathieson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. His group studies the genetic architecture and evolution of complex traits in humans, with a particular focus on using ancient DNA to provide a direct window onto human history and evolution. He received a B.A. in Mathematics and an M.Phil. in Statistical Science from the University of Cambridge, and a D.Phil. in Genomic Medicine & Statistics from the University of Oxford advised by Gil McVean and Cecilia Lindgren and supported by the Wellcome Trust. He then completed a postdoc at Harvard Medical School with David Reich, supported by a fellowship from the Human Frontier Science Program. His lab is currently supported by a NIH NIGMS R35 Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award, a grant from the Charles E. Kaufman foundation and a Sloan Foundation research fellowship.

2020 Margaret Dayhoff Mid-Career Award Winner: Christian Landry

Christian Landry is Professor of Biology as well as Biochemistry, Microbiology and Bio-informatics at Université Laval. His research focuses on evolutionary systems biology and evolutionary genomics. He uses experimental, computational and theoretical approaches to study how natural selection, mutations and drift are shaping cellular systems. Christian received a BSc and a MSc working with Louis Bernatchez from Université Laval, a PhD from Harvard University working with Daniel L Hartl and did his postdoctoral work with Stephen W Michnick at Université de Montréal.  He has been holding the Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Cell and Systems Biology since 2015, was elected a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada in 2014 and was awarded the NSERC EWR Steacie Memorial Fellowships of Canada in 2018.  

2020 SMBE Motoo Kimura Lifetime Contribution Award Winner: Brian Charlesworth

Brian Charlesworth is a Senior Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. He was born in Brighton, England in 1945. He obtained his PhD in genetics from Cambridge University in 1969, and was a postdoctoral fellow with Richard Lewontin at the University of Chicago, 1969-1971. He subsequently worked at the Universities of Liverpool, Sussex and Chicago, moving from Chicago to Edinburgh as Royal Society Research Professor (1997-2007), and retired from his position as Professorial Fellow in 2010.

His research has focused on the application of population genetics to evolutionary biology, using both theoretical and empirical approaches, with an emphasis over the past 35 years on molecular evolution and variation. In collaboration with Deborah Charlesworth and Chuck Langley, he constructed theoretical models of the population dynamics of transposable elements (TEs), and applied them to the analysis of data on element frequencies in natural populations of Drosophila. The results supported the selfish DNA hypothesis for the maintenance of TEs by transpositional replication in the face of their deleterious effects on host fitness, which in part are caused by the generation of chromosome rearrangements by ectopic exchange. He helped to develop the theory of background selection, according to which the elimination of selectively deleterious mutations affects patterns of molecular variation and evolution at sites that are linked to the targets of selection. His theoretical work has shown that, when recombination rates are very low, selective interference between deleterious mutations significantly alters their effects on variability at linked neutral or nearly neutral sites, consistent with observations on genomic regions with low rates of recombination. He has also helped to develop and apply methods for estimating selection on both coding and non-coding sequence variants within populations, and has contributed to both theory and data on the evolution of sex chromosomes and recombination rates.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh, Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and International Member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has been awarded the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society in 2000, the Darwin-Wallace medal of the Linnean Society, and the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal of the Genetics Society of America. He has published over 250 research papers and three books (two co-authored with Deborah Charlesworth – Evolution: A Very Short Introduction and Elements of Evolutionary Genetics).

  • Monday, May 18, 2020
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The Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution is an international organization whose goals are to provide facilities for association and communication among molecular evolutionists and to further the goals of molecular evolution, as well as its practitioners and teachers. In order to accomplish these goals, the Society publishes two peer-reviewed journals, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Genome Biology and Evolution. The Society sponsors an annual meeting, as well as smaller satellite meetings or workshop on important, focused, and timely topics. It also confers honors and awards to students and researchers.


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