IEEE Winnipeg Section


EMBS Chapter Seminar



Computational Biology on the Wings of Butterflies/p


Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 3:00 PM


E2 – 320 EITC, Fort Garry Campus, University of Manitoba


Dr. Jeffrey Marcus
Associate Professor Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Phylogenomics
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Manitoba


The colour patterns on the wings of butterflies are some of the most striking patterns in nature. These colour patterns play important roles in the reproductive, thermoregulatory, and predator avoidance strategies of butterflies, yet are only 2 cells thick. Due to their structural simplicity, these patterns offer a tractable biological system in which to use computational tools. I use the tools of comparative genomics, phylogenetic systematics, computational biology, classical and molecular genetics, and population genetics to understand the gene expression and developmental mechanisms underlying the generation and evolution of colour patterns. My seminar will focus on developmental genetics and computational modeling of eyespots in buckeye butterflies (genus Junonia). This system is a useful model for understanding how organisms construct tissues because it permits the integrated study of phenotypic traits at many levels of organization from genetics and cell biology to ecology and evolutionary biology.

Speaker Bio:

Jeffrey Marcus has been an Associate Professor and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Phylogenomics at the University of Manitoba since June 2009. His undergraduate degree is from Cornell University. He was then selected as one of only 10 US students to receive the prestigious Churchill Scholarship to study at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Once there, he earned a Master of Philosophy degree in Genetics in only 11 months. He was then awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowship to continue his studies at Duke University where he began his work with butterflies, earning his PhD in Zoology in 2002. In 2003, Dr. Marcus attended the Complex Systems Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico where he worked on the evolution of genomic complexity. He then joined the faculty of Western Kentucky University as an Assistant Professor before coming to Canada.

Dr. Marcus’ research program spans the disciplines of phylogenetics, computational and developmental biology, and genomics, using methods from each field to study the origins, organization, and evolution of butterfly color patterns. He is an innovator, developing new methods for mapping and manipulating genomes, including the creation of the world’s first genetically modified butterflies. When not at work, Dr. Marcus is a recreational plumber, and an avid gardener and photographer. His photographs of fiber arts, sheep, llamas, and yaks illustrate the book, Fiber Gathering, which was published by John Wiley in March 2009. In his spare time, he enjoys scrutinizing seed catalogs, outdoor activities, and taking walks with his wife Joanne and their dogs, Harry and Sally.


Free, All are welcome.


For questions or more information contact Sherif Sherif at 474-6893.

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