Research Fellow, St John's College Cambridge (William Bateson Fellowship)
2014-Present: Research Fellow, St John's College, Cambridge
2011-2014: PhD, University of Cambridge
2008-2010: MSc Genetics, University of Pretoria, South Africa
2004-2007: BSc Genetics (Hons), University of Pretoria, South Africa
I am interested in how natural populations evolve and adapt at the genomic level. I am particularly interested in the somewhat mysterious process of speciation, through which distinct clusters of genotypes become established, and persist over time. This is the fundamental process that underlies the diversity of life.
What is the role of natural selection in shaping the diversity of nature? When sexual species hybridise and share genetic matarial, why don't they eventually collapse into a single species? What are the consequences of the exchange of genetic material between species, and how often is this process beneficial? These are some of the questions I think about and work on.
Most of my work focusses on the diverse and beautiful Heliconius butterflies, a group well known among biologists for their mimetic adaptations, geographic races with different wing patterns, and multiple species that hybridise in the wild.
I have also begun working on a second butterfly system, the Danaus chrysippus species complex, an African butterfly clade that consists of a number of "semi-species", which appear to be kept apart by geography, selection and a strange interaction between genome structure and male-killing bacteria. There are far more questions than answers in this system.
My overall goal is to better our understanding of speciation and adpatation by testing hypotheses about the mechanics of these processes. I use genome sequencing of natural populations combined with both descriptive and model-based computational approaches, most of which are rooted in population-genetic theory. I am interested in developing creative ways of working with genomic data, so that we can get the most out of this tremendous resource.
Martin S. H., Möst M., Palmer W. J., Salazar C., Mcmillan W. O., Jiggins F. M., Jiggins C. D., Martin S. H., 2016 Natural selection and genetic diversity in the butterfly Heliconius melpomene. Genetics: In Press.
Martin S. H., Davey J. W., Jiggins C. D., 2015 Evaluating the Use of ABBA-BABA Statistics to Locate Introgressed Loci. Molecular Biology & Evolution 32: 244–257.
Martin S. H., Dasmahapatra K. K., Nadeau N. J., Salazar C., Walters J. R., Simpson F., Blaxter M., Manica A., Mallet J., Jiggins C. D., 2013 Genome-wide evidence for speciation with gene flow in Heliconius butterflies. Genome Research 23: 1817–1828.