Emmarie P. Alexander
Current Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Hometown: Belvidere, IL
Fields of Interest:
Bioinformatics and Genomics
Conservation & Population Genetics
When and how did you realize that you wanted to study Genetics?
When I started college, I thought I wanted to be a wildlife veterinarian. I had just spent the past summer working as a wildlife rehabilitator, and I figured that the only career that would allow me to help animals was a veterinarian. Once I got to school, I was eager to get more hands-on experience with wildlife, so I got in touch with Dr. Anna Kukekova, who studies red foxes. I failed to realize that Dr. Kukekova studies domesticated foxes, but it was okay! She recruited me to work as a laboratory technician on a project using Y-chromosome microsatellites to map the ancestry of both wild and domesticated foxes. That project made me realize that veterinary care is often applied at an individual level, whereas genetics allows us to study whole populations, helping more animals! That’s when I decided to pursue genetics.
Why did you choose the Genetics PhD program at A&M?
I chose the Genetic Ph.D. program at A&M because of its interdisciplinary nature, extensive resources, and supportive community! I couldn’t imagine a better program to grow as an interdisciplinary scientist.
If you were free to choose anything, what research question/topic would you like to address for your graduate studies?
I am broadly interested in the conservation, ecology, and evolution of mammals! I’d love to integrate field and molecular work to answer questions aimed at understanding the processes of adaptation and speciation and how these answers can better inform conservation efforts. I’d also love to translate my graduate studies into outreach activities, helping the public learn and appreciate these fields.
What would be your dream job after graduation from the program?
My dream is to be a curator of mammals / research scientist at a natural history museum! I imagine life as going on field expeditions, discovering new species and describing known ones, designing exhibits, and interacting with the public about science. Plus, I’d have access to tons of specimens to do research on!
Do you have any hidden talents? If so, what are they.
I am a classically trained multi-instrumentalist. I have played guitar for over 14 years and saxophone for eight, but I don’t really play too much these days!
Do you have any pets? If so, please tell us about them.
I have a 2-year-old, orange tabby named Cleopatra (Cleo is her nickname)! She does tricks, plays fetch, goes on walks, and is super friendly.
Fun genetics fact: the ginger gene in cats is X-linked, so a female cat needs two copies of the gene to have an orange coat.