UCL Genetics Institute
- Tel: 020 7679 7268
- Ext: 37268
- 108B Darwin Building, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT
Human Evolution Interest
Aida is fundamentally interested in how populations adapt to their environment. This is a fascinating question in humans, who colonized a wide diversity of habitats in a short evolutionary time. Her team analyses genomes, both modern and ancient, to infer how natural selection mediates adaptation to the environment. She uses genomic approaches to study the processes of adaptation, population genetic techniques to make detailed inferences on the history of selected alleles, and functional information to infer the effect of these selected alleles in present-day phenotypes. She is particularly interested in selection that maintains diversity within populations (e.g. balancing selection), selection that creates differences among human groups (e.g. local adaptation), and adaptive introgression.
Her group also works on the evolution of our closest living relatives, the great apes. This is for three main reasons. First, by studying primates we can put human adaptation in its evolutionary context. Second, all the great apes are endangered, in large part to quick environmental habitat changes, which makes their genetic adaptations critical. Third, their many differences (in habitat, social structure or physiology) coupled with their genetic similarity makes them a useful model of adaptation in primates.