Brian Charlesworth is a Senior Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests are in theoretical and experimental population genetics, molecular and genome evolution, and life-history evolution. He was born in Brighton, England in 1945. He obtained his PhD in genetics from Cambridge University in 1969, and was a postdoctoral fellow with Richard Lewontin at the University of Chicago, 1969-1971. He worked at the Universities of Liverpool, Sussex and Chicago, moving to Edinburgh as a Royal Society Research Professor (1997-2007), retiring in 2010. He is a Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh, Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and International Member of the National Academy of Sciences. He received the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society in 2000, the Darwin-Wallace medal of the Linnean Society in 2010, the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal of the Genetics Society of America in 2015, and the Motoo Kimura award of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. He has been President of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the UK Genetics Society, and the European Society for Evolutionary Biology. He has published over 300 research papers and three books (two with Deborah Charlesworth).

Research Interests

My current research focusses on the application of population genetics theory to the analysis and interpretation of data on molecular variation and evolution. I have been particularly interested in the consequences of differences in rates of genetic recombination across the genome on the efficacy of natural selection and on levels of genetic variation. This involves modeling of both selective sweeps (in which new favorable mutations affect allele frequencies at linked sites) and background selection (in which selection against rare deleterious mutations reduces variants at linked sites). Recently, my coworkers and I have shown that the neglected process of associative overdominance forms part of a continuum with background selection, and may be influencing patterns of genetic variation in low recombination genomic regions. Currently, my collaborators and I are investigating how interactions between selection at linked sites, recombination rate and population size changes may influence patterns of genetic variation within populations.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics