Professor Hamish Spencer
- GENE 222 Genes, Chromosomes and Populations
- GENE 312 Evolutionary Genetics
- GENE 360 Special Topics in Genetics
- GENE 412 Current Topics in Genetics
- GENE 490 Dissertation
- The maintenance of genetic variation in populations
- The population genetics of genomic imprinting
- Population-genetic models of maternal selection
- New Zealand molluscs
- Population-genetic theory for frequency-dependent selection
- Phenotypic plasticity
- History of eugenics
- Applications of phylogenetics to NZ taxa
Possible PhD, MSc and BSc(Hons) Research Projects
Please contact me if you are interested in research projects in any of these areas.
- Population-Genetic Models for Genomically Imprinted Loci
Genomic imprinting describes the unequal expression of paternally and maternally inherited genes in mammals. We are interested in the population-level consequences of this form of non-Mendelian expression.
- Evolutionary Origin of Genomic Imprinting
There have been several hypotheses proposed for the evolution of the unequal expression of paternally and maternally inherited genes in mammals. We are interested in examining these hypotheses rigorously, using novel mathematical models.
- Phylogeography of Molluscs
Molluscs often provide ideal models to investigate questions in phylogeography, including questions about the importance of dispersal. New Zealand (and the South Pacific in general) has a diverse terrestrial and marine molluscan fauna that has already provided such model systems. We are interested in using novel DNA data sets in phylogeographic investigations.
- Testing the Power to Detect Neutral Polymorphisms
Many of the statistical tests of the neutral hypothesis of evolution do not detect non-neutral systems easily. This project involves examining the power of a number of these tests for polymorphisms constructed by mutation and selection.
- Frequency-Dependent Selection and Genetic Variation
In theory, frequency-dependent selection can maintain large numbers of alleles in a population. We are interested in quantifying this ability and seeing if, in fact, this form of selection might be responsible for the standing variation observed in natural populations.
- Evolutionary Genetics of Parental Effects
It is becoming increasingly clear that parents pass on more than just their genes to the offspring. For example, experiments with a species of weedy cress have shown that non-genetic factors inherited from grandparents can even alter the genetic constitution of individual plants. This project will construct mathematical models that show how various parental effects can have long-term evolutionary implications.
- Director of the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution
- Principal Investigator with the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution
- Principal Investigator with the National Research Centre for Growth and Development
- Honorary Academic with the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland
- Frequency-dependent selection theory
- Population-genetic models of maternal selection, especially with genomic imprinting
- Phylogenies of pelicans, shags, cormorants and their relatives (with Dr Martyn Kennedy)
- Models of the evolution of genomic imprinting (with Prof Marcus Feldman and Prof Andrew Clark)
- Phylogeny of molluscan genera Diloma, Austrocochlea, and Monodonta (Trochidae) and Cominella (Buccinidae) and their trematode parasites (with Dr Kirsten Donald; supported by the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution)
- Evolution and phylogeography of Australasian intertidal communities, especially those associated with the Bull Kelp Durvillaea (with Prof Jon Waters)
- Population genetic models with spatial structure (with Dr Peter Whigham and Dr Grant Dick)
- Modelling the Developmental Origins paradigm (with Prof Peter Gluckman)
- Phylogeny and biogeography of New Zealand landsnails (with Dr Martyn Kennedy and Dr Fred Brook)
- History of eugenics in New Zealand (with Assoc Prof John Stenhouse and Prof Diane Paul; supported by the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution)
Recent and Current Postdocs and Students
- Scott Davidson, PhD, An Experimental Test of the Robustness of Sensitivity Analysis
- Kirsten Donald, Post-doctoral Fellow, The Co-evolution of Topshells and Trematodes (supported by the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution)
- Crid Fraser, PhD, Phylogeography of Bull Kelp, Durvillaea spp.
- Jemma Geoghegan, PhD, Mathematical Population Epigenetics (supported by the National Research Centre for Growth and Development)
- Martyn Kennedy, Post-doctoral Fellow, The Behaviour and Phylogeny of the Pelecaniformes (supported by the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution)
- Anna Santure, PhD, Quantitative Genetic Models Incorporating Genomic Imprinting
- Renate Sponer, PhD, Molecular Evolution in the Cosmopolitan, Brooding Brittle Star
- Bastiaan Star, PhD, Population Structure and Genetic Variability
- Rick Stoffels, Post-doctoral Fellow, Population-genetic Theory of Frequency-dependent Selection (supported by the Marsden Fund )
- Meredith Trotter, PhD, Frequency-dependent Selection and the Maintenance of Genetic Variation
- Anton Weisstein, Post-doctoral Fellow, Population-genetic Models of the Evolution of Genomic Imprinting (supported by the Marsden Fund)
- David Winter, PhD, Phylogeography of Pacific Landsnails (See also David's blog) (supported by the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution)
- Alexey Yanchukov, Post-doctoral Fellow, Modelling the Evolutionary Genetics of Parental Effects (supported by the Marsden Fund )
- population-genetic theory, genomic imprinting, phylogenetics, plasticity, molluscs