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CCB Seminar: Genomic insights into primate evolution, behavior, and divergence
February 1, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Dr. Jenny Tung, Associate Professor, Departments Evolutionary Anthropolgy and Biology, Duke University
The goal of our work is to link fitness-related behavior, life history, and environmental variation with outcomes that are relevant on an evolutionary timescale, using tools from genomics and social mammals as our focal system. Here, I will discuss our work on the molecular mechanisms that connect social relationships—which are among the most robust predictors of Darwinian fitness in social mammals—to downstream outcomes for immune function and aging. I will also discuss our emerging understanding of the causes and consequences of hybridization in wild baboons, focusing on an intensively studied natural population in the Amboseli ecosystem of Kenya. Both areas of our work emphasize the value of genomic data for revealing patterns that cannot be captured using phenotypic analyses alone. At the same time, they stress the importance of interpreting genomic information through an organismal lens.
Jenny Tung is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology at Duke University and an affiliate of the Duke Population Research Institute, the Center for Genomic and Computational Biology, and the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Jenny joined the Duke faculty in 2012 after completing her post-doctoral training in the University of Chicago Department of Human Genetics and her PhD training in the Duke Biology department. Research in the Tung lab focuses on the intersection between behavior, social structure, and genes. The lab is particularly interested in how social environmental variables of known biodemographic importance, such as social status and social connectedness, feedback to influence gene regulation, population genetic structure, and health and survival across the life course. We primarily ask these questions in nonhuman primates and other social mammals, which are natural models for human social behavior, physiology, and aging. Currently, most of our work centers on a longitudinally studied population of wild baboons in Kenya (Tung co-directs the Amboseli Baboon Research Project) and captive rhesus macaques at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center.