Justin L. Conover, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher, Iowa State University
Hello! I am an evolutionary biologist interested in how plant genomes change over both long (species-level and above) and short (population-level) periods of time. My work entails a mix of empirical and computational approaches in comparative genomics, population genetics, and phylogenomics.
Plant genome evolution is a fascinating process with a number of fundamental questions that remain unanswered. My research focuses on one universal aspect of plant genome evolution -- deciphering the evolutionary mysteries of whole genome duplication events (polyploidy). Specifically, I focus on how natural selection may act differently in polyploids versus diploids at various timescales, ranging from the population level to comparisons between species within an order or family. My dissertation primarily used cotton as a model system, although I have branched out into other polyploid plant systems, including peanut, wheat, and quinoa. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Jonathan Wendel at Iowa State University, where I am working closely with the labs of Drs. Dan Sloan (Colorado State University), Joel Sharbrough (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology) and Dan Peterson (Mississippi State University) to better understand various aspects of genome evolution following polyploidy, including genome reorganization, gene conversion and genome-wide patterns of gene loss, and the scale, scope, and functional consequences of the accumulation and purging of genetic load.
**NEWS** I was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (PRFB) to work with Dr. Michael Barker and Dr. Ryan Gutenkunst at the University of Arizona! Starting March 2023, my work will focus on understanding the role that ancient and recent polyploidy plays in shaping the Distribution of Fitness Effects (DFE) of new mutations in plant genomes, using diploid and polyploid Brassica crops as model systems.