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Tuesday, 22 March 2022, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Barnard's Inn Hall

How Genetic Adaptation Helped Humans Colonise the Globe

Dr Aida Andrés

Modern humans evolved in Africa and successfully colonised the globe only in the last 100,000 years or so, a feat made possible by cultural and genetic adaptation. Human habitats differ dramatically in climate, available foods or pathogens, and genetic adaptation was mediated both by mutation and by interbreeding with archaic humans such as Neanderthals and Denisovans. 

Besides representing a mark of our past, these adaptations contribute to diversity in living people in traits such as skin colour and immune function.


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Aida Andrés

Dr Aida Andrés obtained her PhD at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain) and performed postdoctoral work at Cornell University and the National Institutes of Health (USA) before moving, in 2010, to Leipzig (Germany) to launch a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. She moved to London in 2017 to join the UCL Genetics Institute, where she is Associate Professor in Evolutionary Genomics.

Dr Andrés is interested in how organisms adapt to their environment. In her work, this means analysing genomes, both modern and ancient, to infer how natural selection mediates genetic adaptations. Most of her work has been on humans, as they have an interesting history of fast colonization of diverse habitats, and in endangered primates, where the ability to adapt to quickly changing environments is crucial for survival. The group is particularly interested in the types of natural selection that maintain diversity within populations or that create differences among populations, as well as adaptive introgression. Her group has made major contributions to our current understanding of the genetics and evolution of modern humans, archaic humans and non-human primates.

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