University of California Berkeley
I am a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Schlinger Chair in Systematics. I am married to George Roderick, who studies invasive insects, and have two sons, Will and Mel, who are now in college. I was born and educated in Scotland, and received a B.Sc. in Zoology from Edinburgh University in 1980. I came to the U.S. to conduct graduate work on the behavioral ecology of spiders at the University of Tennessee. After my PhD I spent several months at the University of South in Tennessee, and then started work at the University of Hawaii in 1987, initially as a postdoc, and then in 1992 as Assistant Professor in Zoology and Researcher in the Hawaiian Evolutionary Biology program. In Hawaii, I started working on happy face spiders, and also discovered an adaptive radiation of long-jawed (Tetragnatha) spiders. I joined the faculty at the University of California in Berkeley in 1999, where I continue to focus my research on the islands of the Pacific as microcosms for studying how biodiversity forms and goes extinct.
For the Hawaiian happy face spider, we have shown that the so-called “exuberant” color polymorphism is similar in all populations across the different islands where it occurs. Interestingly, the genetic basis for the color polymorphism has changed as they have established new populations on new islands, with selection acting to recover the diversity of color forms from the few individuals that colonized the new island. What is the molecular basis for this change? Our team has a system, as well as the tools and expertise, to answer this question, and hence resolve the age-old question: How is diversity recovered subsequent to a population bottleneck?