Today is the first day of my postdoc with Jason Munshi-South at Fordham University! I’m super excited about starting this position and not just because I get to go to work everyday in a mansion (see below). The Munshi-South Lab focuses on adaptation to the urban environment. I think this is a really unique way to think about the forces that shape selection particularly rapid adaptation on shorter time scales. In 2009 the United Nations estimated half the world’s human population lived in urban areas and that the percentage will continue to rise. By studying species with both shorter generation times and closer contact with the urban environment (ex- pollutants, artificial lighting, linearized environments), we hope to gain an understanding of how selection responds to urbanization. This may provide insight into how humans are also adapting to urbanization.
The project that I will work on focuses on brown rats (Rattus norvegicus). Brown rats are not native to North America and were introduced via ships coming from Europe in the 1700-1800s. So before we can understand how selection has acted upon their genomes, we must first understand where their genomes came from as we hypothesize substantial admixture in North American populations. (Hmm, phylogeography and admixture, that sounds like something I know about.)
Beyond the project, I’m excited to work with new lab mates, always a fun part of science!