Dr. Rachel Prunier
Science Building 206
I am an evolutionary biologist who studies plants. I did my undergraduate work at the University of Viriginia where I earned a BA in biology. I continued my education at the University of Connecticut where I studied the evolution and genetics of a hyper-diverse group of plants in South Africa. I then completed a post-doctoral position at the University of Michigan in plant ecology before coming to WCSU in 2012.
I am continuing my work understanding the genetics and evolution that underlie the diversification of plants in South Africa. This work is comprised of two main projects. One project is the assembly and annotation of the genome of Protea repens, a strangely widespread plant species from South Africa. Together with Dr. Jill Wegrzyn at UConn and Dr. Andrew Latimer at UC Davis I hope to understand the genes that have allowed it to take advantage of the challenging environment in which it lives. This project is entirely on the computer, using python and shell scripting to coordinate the complex computational challenges of assembling the genome and identifying the genes. The second project is more lab based. In collaboration with Dr. Sandy-Lynn Steenhuisen at the University of the Free State and Dr. Jeremy Midgely at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and their students, I am investigating the genetic diversity of species with different pollinators. We are also investigating the extent to which individuals in these species mate with themselves or mate with other individuals. Both of these factors: genetic diversity and inbreeding have consequences for the evolution of species.
SURF PRIMARY SETTING
SKILLS TO BE ACQUIRED DURING FELLOWSHIP
Genomics Project: experience working with genomic data; experience assembling a genome; machine learning techniques for genome annotation; practice with python; shell scripting; specialized genome assembly and annotation software. Outcrossing Project: basic molecular genetic lab experience (DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis); fragment analysis; genetic data analysis.
SKILLS REQUIRED TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR A FELLOWSHIP WITH DR. PRUNIER
Genomics Project: experience with UNIX command line; familiarity with Python. Outcrossing project: some experience with chemistry; basic use of pipettors; familiarity with molecular genetic techniques.
Contact faculty member for availability.