Dr. Johanna Kowalko

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Adjunct Assistant Professor
Johanna Kowalko

I am interested in understanding the genetic basis of behavioral variation in natural populations.  I study behavior in two systems, the zebrafish, Danio rerio, as a model system for understanding the genetic basis of behavior, and the cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus, to study the evolution of behavior.  Astyanax mexicanus exists in two forms, a river-dwelling surface form and multiple, independently-evolved blind cave forms.  Surface and cavefish differ in a number of morphological and behavioral traits, but are interfertile, and can be bred together for genetic mapping of traits, making them an excellent system for the study of the genetic underpinnings of behavioral evolution.

Area of Expertise: 
behavioral genetics
zebrafish modeling
cavefish modeling
Education: 
B.A., Biology, Brown University, 2005
Ph.D., Harvard University, 2013
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