Mark Kirkpatrick is a theoretical population geneticist whose work has contributed to our understanding of sexual selection, quantitative genetics, and chromosome evolution. He was born in New York City, grew up in Summit, New Jersey, and graduated from Harvard University. While an undergraduate, he spent several months in the lab of Robert Selander, who interested him in population genetics. Mark went to the University of Washington for a Ph.D., where he was advised by Monty Slatkin and received much advice from Joe Felsenstein. He went to U.C. Berkeley as a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow, where David Wake sponsored him as the first theoretical biologist in the history of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. He then joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, Mark is the T.S. Painter Centennial Professor of Genetics in the Department of Integrative Biology. He is a fellow of both AAASs and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Mark Kirkpatrick's early work used classical population genetics models to study how female mating preferences evolve and how they contribute to speciation. His work on quantitative genetics developed statistical methods for predicting the response to selection of high dimensional traits such as growth curves. Later Mark became interested in how chromosomes evolve, studying how natural and sexual selection can drive the evolution of rearrangements such as inversions and fusions. Much current research focuses on the origin and evolution of sex chromosomes. The approaches include both classical (forward time) and coalescent (backward time) models to make quantitative hypotheses, and the development of statistical methods to test those hypotheses using genomic data.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics