Ben Sandkam

Integrating genetics, behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology to study the genetic causes and consequences of reproductive behaviour.

I am a Banting Post Doctoral Fellow in Prof. Judith Mank's lab at the University of British Columbia. I am currently working to understand how supergenes (co-adapted genes that are inherited together) arise and evolve in the face of recombination loss.

In my PhD I found that colour-based mate choice is influenced by visual tuning through expression of opsin genes, and yet sequence evolution of these opsin genes is constrained by genomic processes arising from their orientation to one another.

During my first post doc I investigated what leads to species level differences in opsin gene expression, with Prof. Karen Carleton at the University of Maryland, and working closely with Dr. Anand Swaroop's lab at the National Institutes of Health. I found that changes in opsin gene expression can be the result of shared transcription factors and that differences in visual tuning across species is due to transposable elements moving throughout the genome.