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I am a postdoctoral scholar currently in Dr. Elizabeth G. King's Lab at the University of Missouri in the Division of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the genetic architectures of life history diversity and evolution in insect and fish models. I integrate genetic and genomic approaches to understand genomic level responses to selection, and how these changes link to organismal attributes, including reproduction and longevity. Prior to this position, I worked under Dr. Alessandro Cellerino at Fritz Lipmann Institute for Aging in Jena, Germany on genetic architectures of morphological and aging-related phenotypes in a new fish model where I also received my PhD from Friedrich-Schiller University - Jena. I earned my MSc. at University of Oslo Natural History Museum under the mentorship of Dr. Brita Stedje where I investigated genetic diversity in the African pencil cedar, Juniperus procera in east Africa. I am a citizen of Malawi where also I received my bachelor's degree in biological education.

Google Scholar Page


2015 - present
    Postdoctoral Scholar
    Division of Biological Sciences
    University of Missouri
    Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth King
2013 - 2014
2009 - 2013
2004 - 2005
1996 - 2000

Current Project

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Evolution of Resource Allocation Patterns

Presently, I am investigating the evolution of resource allocation patterns in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster in response to dietary quality. This work is conducted on a large set of recombinant inbred lines (DSPR) using experimental selection (on multiple dietary conditions) in the context of 'evolve-and-resequence' approaches. The aim is to track changes in genomic, gene expression and physiological changes over the selection period and relate these to higher-level traits including fecundity and lifespan. Results from this project are expected to shed light on the nature of environmental changes that select for evolution of known allocation strategies such as storage disorders and nutrient limitation.

Past Projects

Aging in Killifish

During my graduate studies, I contributed to the knowledge base required to establish a new fish model, Nothobranchius furzeri, the known shortest-living vertebrate that has gained traction in aging research. I used quantitative genetic and gene expression methods to study the genetic bases of age-associated metabolic traits including (hepatic) apoptosis and lipofuscin accumulation, as well as body pigmentation phenotypes. This work was done in a panel of interspecific hybrids of phylogenetically close species, and yielded significant insights into the aging phenotype of this annual killifish.
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Molecular ecology and evolution of east African killifish

Side projects for my graduate studies focused on spatial morphological and molecular variation in a greater number of Nothobranchius sp including N. furzeri in Mozambique and Malawi. One line of this work culminated in a new species description for Malawi based on morphology and molecular data putting to rest a long-standing aspect of evolutionary relationships. A second line investigated color polymorphisms and parallel evolution of senescence in response to extrinsic mortality in Mozambique. These data contribute to confirming that the very short lifespan and the aging phenotype in N. furzeri is natural, and not a mere artifact of laboratory domestication.
Genetic diversity in the African pencil cedar

The southern-most limit of Juniperus procera which ranges from Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula across east African mountain ranges, is a 20-hectare climax forest located in a protected area in northern Malawi but still threatened with logging and bushfires. This small population is isolated from the nearest population in Mbeya, Tanzania by about 500 km. This project aimed at comparing the genetic diversity of this small population with populations in optimal environments in Kenya and Ethiopia to inform conservation policy in Malawi.
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