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Erin Vaughn

PhD Candidate - entered Jan 2011

Genetics GIDP

B.S. University of New Mexico - 2008
Conservation Biology

Personal Website

Broadly, I am interested in population genetics and epigenetics. Currently, I am developing a suite of microsatellite markers derived from 454 pyrosequencing data for a threatened population of Florida crested caracara. I am interested in utilizing epigenetic marks, specifically DNA methylation, to study gene expression regulation as an adaptation to environmental stimuli. The epigenetic response is the means by which organisms alter their phenotype so as to adapt to environmental change. In the face of climate change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and pollution, species throughout the globe are struggling to persist. Yet, the study of population epigenetic diversity is largely restricted to model organisms. I am interested in expanding population epigenetic research to endangered and threatened species and in using epigenetic marks as indicators of environmental quality.

Before entering the Genetics program and joining the Culver lab I worked as a Research Technician under Dr. Matthew Cordes in UA's department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for a year and a half. I adapted a bacterial one-hybrid system to verify a putative “evolutionary code” behind direct interactions between nucleotides and amino acids. As an undergrad, I studied the role of the Prp5p protein in pre-mRNA splicing under the guidance of Dr. Stephanie Ruby in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the University of New Mexico.

I am a three-time recipient of the NSF IGERT Comparative Genomics fellowship. As an IGERT fellow, I collaborate with students from a diverse group of disciplines to study biological questions using genomic and bioinformatic tools.

When I am outside the lab I enjoy cycling the streets of Tucson, hiking, good wine, and traveling. As a New Jersey native, I am in constant awe of the summer heat in Tucson but I can't say I miss the NJ snow ... or the traffic.