Balfour Lecture 2019 – Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh. Her research integrates quantitative genetics with genomics to understand evolutionary trade-offs in wild populations. She did her PhD in evolutionary genetics at the University of Sheffield with Prof Jon Slate, before taking up postdoctoral positions at the University of Turku, Finland with Prof Craig Primmer and the University of Edinburgh with Prof Josephine Pemberton. She started her current position as a Research Fellow in October 2016.

Her PhD and postdoctoral research focussed on understanding why genetic variation is maintained in traits under sexual selection, investigating genetic architecture and fitness trade-offs in sexual weaponry in Soay sheep and age at maturity in Atlantic salmon. She then shifted her research to investigating the genetic architecture and evolution of individual recombination rate variation in wild populations of sheep, deer and house sparrows.

Her current work investigates the causes and consequences of recombination rate variation within and between chromosomes, individuals, sexes, populations and species, to understand why recombination is so pervasive yet variable and how it is evolving across a wide range of taxa. Her group also investigates the role of sexual selection and indirect genetic effects, such as maternal effects, on trait evolution. She is keen to promote and encourage women and under-represented minorities into scientific careers, and has a young child born in 2018.

Susan will present the 2019 Balfour Lecture at the Genetics Society 2109 meeting “A Century of Genetics”, to be held in Edinburgh.