George Gaylord Simpson Postdoctoral Fellowship

The George Gaylord Simpson postdoctoral fellowship was established in 2007 in honor of G.G. Simpson's long tenure at the University of Arizona.
The G.G. Simpson posdoctoral fellowship creates an active research program that is facilitated and complimented by the Departments extensive natural history collections in ichthyology, herpetology, ornithology, and mammalogy.  The EEB collections have a strong taxanomic focus on the fauna of the southwest United States, northwest Mexico, the Gulf of California and the Eastern Pacific.  The fellowships are part of a renewed commitment to natural history collection on the University of Arizona campus and a ne initiative in biodiversity informatics.
Recent Fellows:
Rebecca Rundell (2011-2012)

I came to EEB with a broad interest in apparently sudden bursts of diversification. One of our best explanations for these patterns is adaptive radiation. However some organisms, such as land snails and some plants show evidence for nonadaptive radiation. Still other groups may show a proliferation of species that might result from whole genome duplication, or polyploidy. I worked with Mike Barker to better understand the impact of this latter process on evolutionary pattern, using bioinformatics tools and animal genomic data. My invertebrate research was facilitated by the Museum of Natural History, which carries the legacy of UA’s important research on desert land snails.


Current work summary:

My current research focuses on understanding the diversification of land snails among and within the islands of the western Pacific archipelago of Belau (Republic of Palau, Oceania) and throughout Micronesia. I am particularly interested in how communities of land snails on individual islands developed over time, particularly with respect to co-occurring rock-dwelling and leaf litter-dwelling snail species. Because Pacific island land snails are also some of the most threatened animals on Earth, I am also actively involved with conservation in Belau. Most recently I have worked with local conservation managers and the IUCN to assess the conservation status of described species, and better understand how to protect forest while leaving room for activities such as land-based tourism. Many species remain to be described in Belau, and I aim to train the next generation of experts in non-insect invertebrates. For example, students in my lab also work on the evolution, morphology and ecology of interstitial aquatic invertebrates, which might be even more unknown than land snails.

Lab website:

Polly Campbell (2011-2013)

As a George Gaylord Simpson Postdoctoral Fellow, I was able to pursue my longstanding fascination with the process of speciation while gaining valuable teaching experience.  Under the mentorship of Michael Nachman, my work on speciation genetics in house mice contributed to understanding of the large role of the sex chromosomes in the origin of intrinsic reproductive isolation. I demonstrated that X chromosome over-expression in sterile hybrid male testes is caused by disruption of meiotic sex chromosome inactivation, a process essential for male fertility in mammals. I was also able to show, for the first time, that genetic incompatibilities involving the Y chromosome contribute to hybrid male sterility. As a teaching fellow, I had the great pleasure of teaching Mammalogy, a course that truly brought the topic to life through the combined resources of the extensive Museum of Natural History Mammal Collections at the University of Arizona, and the exceptional mammalian diversity of the surrounding Sonoran Desert. 

I joined the faculty in the Department of Zoology at Oklahoma State University in the fall of 2013. Research in my lab comprises two major themes: speciation genetics and behavioral evolution. Current work uses house mice and their wild relatives to address questions at the intersection of these two topics. For example, do the same genes that mediate mating decisions within species underlie premating barriers between species? What are the effects of hybridization on neural gene expression and behavior?  For more information please see: Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact me.