Molly Przeworski

Columbia University

Primary Section: 27, Evolutionary Biology
Secondary Section: 26, Genetics
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2020)


Molly Przeworski is an evolutionary biologist and geneticist whose research focuses on the population dynamics of natural selection and the evolution of mutation and recombination. She was born in the United States and grew up in France. After a B.A. in Mathematics from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, Przeworski held a postdoctoral position in the Mathematical Genetics group of the University of Oxford and a research position at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Before moving to Columbia University in 2014, she was a faculty member at Brown University and the University of Chicago. More recently, she held a visiting Chair at the Collège de France. She has been an editor for the Annual Reviews of Human Genetics and Genomics, eLife, and PLoS Genetics, and served on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science.

Research Interests

The heritable differences within and between species stem from accidental changes to the genome that arose in an individual, were shuffled into new combinations by recombination, and persisted in the population, whether by chance or because they were beneficial. Molly Przeworski is interested in modeling how genetic and evolutionary mechanisms give rise to and maintain heritable variation, and in inferring properties of the underlying mechanisms from patterns of genetic variation. Work in her group has revealed the fine-scale recombination landscape to be rapidly evolving in primates and elucidated the causes and consequences of its evolution in vertebrates. Their research has also clarified how natural selection operates in human populations: notably, they demonstrated that few recent human adaptations involved new, single changes of large effect and characterized the footprints of other forms of adaptation in genetic variation data.  More recent work seeks to understand sources of variation in mutation rates within and between species.

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software