Scott Edwards is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He came to Harvard in December 2003 after serving as a faculty for 9 years in the Zoology Department and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Seattle. He served as Council member and as President of the Society of Systematic Biologists (2006), the American Genetic Association (2011), and the Society for the Study of Evolution (2012). He has served on the National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration and on the Advisory Boards of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian. In 2009 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science. From June 2013 to June 2015 he served as Division Director of the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the US National Science Foundation. At Harvard he teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and is passionate about helping increase the participation of underrepresented students, postdocs and faculty in the environmental sciences.

Research Interests

Scott Edwards' research focuses on diverse aspects of the evolutionary biology of birds, including evolutionary history and biogeography, disease ecology, population genetics and comparative genomics. To study avian phylogeography he conducted extensive fieldwork in Australia and produced some of the first continent-wide phylogeographic analyses based on DNA sequencing. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in immunogenetics at the University of Florida to study the evolution of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of birds, an important multigene family encoding receptors that mediate pathogen recognition and surveillance, as well as mate choice. He helped develop the House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) as an emerging model system for studying the evolutionary consequences of pathogens on animal hosts, focusing on genome-wide effects on sequence change and gene expression of the bacterial pathogen Mycoplasma gallisepticum. His work on the MHC led him to study the large-scale structure and dinosaurian origins of the avian genome. In the last 10 years Dr. Edwards has helped develop novel methods for estimating phylogenetic trees from multilocus DNA sequence data using coalescent theory. His recent work uses comparative genomics in diverse contexts to study macroevolutionary patterns in birds, including the origin of feathers and the evolution of flightlessness.

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Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology

Secondary Section

Section 61: Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences