Research/Areas of Interest:

Evolution and Genetics of Natural Populations


  • PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, United States, 2005
  • BS, Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States, 1998


A fundamental problem for biology is to understand phenotypic and species diversity. Ernst Mayr wrote that two distinct disciplines provide a conceptual framework for tackling this issue: functional biology and evolutionary biology. Mayr argued that while the functional biologist might be interested in how genetic and phenotypic variation arises, the evolutionary biologist is preoccupied by why it occurs in the first place. That is, in the factors promoting and maintaining variation. The Dopman lab applies a unified framework and seeks both functional and evolutionary explanations for diversity in nature. Our studies draw on approaches from numerous disciplines (ecology, genomics, physiology, molecular genetics), often in the context of adaptive evolution and the origin of species.

Current interests include: "speciation genes" and reproductive isolating barriers; reproductive protein evolution; sex bias and sex chromosome evolution; dormancy and seasonality; and organismal resilience to climate change.

Undergraduate students

Research can be an important part of the undergraduate student experience and can lead to new and unexpected career opportunities. Undergraduate students who are highly motivated and are interested in doing evolutionary genetics research should contact Dr. Dopman. Students who wish to receive course credit or working in the lab during the summer should contact Dr. Dopman well in advance of the semester/summer when they would like to work on their projects.

Graduate students

Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact Dr. Dopman and to apply to the Tufts Biology Department Ph.D. program. Information about how to apply and financial aid is available at the department website. As a graduate student, you should develop your own questions and dissertation projects under my guidance. My role is to guide you through the intellectual journey you will be undertaking by placing your work in a broader context. Your job is to work hard and keep the lines of communication open. Graduate students should participate in activities such as the departmental seminar series and lab meetings. I would also encourage students to develop collaborations and side projects with other faculty and students with whom they share research interests.

Postdoctoral researchers

Prospective postdoctoral applicants should send a CV and summary of graduate research to Dr. Dopman. Please include contact information for three references. We can then discuss our interests, potential projects that we could develop, and avenues of funding. Tufts University has internal funds for postdocs through the Training in Education and Critical Research Skills (TEACRS) Program. This NIGMS-funded IRACDA program is designed to prepare talented young scientists for the multiple demands of an academic career in biomedical research.