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Geoff Findlay

Associate Professor of Biology
Office: O'Neil 107, phone: 508-793-2655
Lab: O'Neil 105

B.A. in biology, Carleton College, 2005
Ph.D. in genome sciences, University of Washington, 2009
postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology and genetics, Wolfner Lab, Cornell University, 2010-2013

Research interests:

I have been interested in the function and evolution of reproductive proteins ever since I did undergraduate research in this area during my summer vacations from college.  This topic is fascinating to me because of a fundamental paradox: reproductive proteins must function properly in order for an organism to enjoy maximal fitness, yet many such proteins evolve remarkably rapidly between even the most closely related of species.  In fact, reproductive proteins are among the fastest evolving in the genome -- just like proteins involved in immune recognition.  How can certain reproductive proteins change so quickly and maintain their essential functions?  Why do other reproductive proteins evolve more typically (i.e., slowly)?

I have been investigating these question in a variety of systems, including the abalone, the house mouse and the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.  My current work focuses on Drosophila, and my students and I are investigating two questions at opposite ends of the evolutionary timescale.  First, we are interested in how brand new genes that evolved recently from non-protein-coding DNA sequences become essential for male reproduction.  Such "de novo" evolved genes are often expressed in the testes, and we are determining which genes have major impacts on male fertility and the specific functional roles these genes play in spermatogenesis.  This work is funded by an NSF CAREER award, and we also collaborate on these questions with Dr. Erich Bornberg-Bauer's lab at the University of Münster.  Second, we are studying an anciently conserved gene that is important for sperm motility.  We are developing Drosophila as a model system in which we can learn about how this gene works, in hopes of applying these findings to mammalian reproduction.  This work is in collaboration with Dr. Harvey Florman at UMass Medical School in Worcester.  For more information about these projects, please see our Research page.


I am currently on sabbatical for the 2019-20 academic year.  At other times, I teach courses in Genetics (with and without lab), Intro to Cell and Molecular Biology, an upper-level seminar on Genomics, and a class for non-science majors called Human Genetics.


Our lab is currently funded by an NSF CAREER award, "Functional and evolutionary analysis of de novo evolved genes in Drosophila male reproduction" (award #1652013).  Amount: $780,902 over five years (2017-2021).

Previous External Funding:

Subcontractor for NIH R01, “Actions of seminal proteins in mated Drosophila females” (2R01HD038921-15), awarded to M. Wolfner; amount of subcontract: $25,734.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, 2011-2013

3CPG Postdoc Fellowship, Cornell University, 2010-2011

For a list of my previous papers, please see the Publications page.


You can download my full CV by clicking the link below (last updated: 2/2109).
Geoffrey Findlay,
Feb 16, 2019, 8:15 PM