Portrait of Sarah Lower

Sarah Lower

Assistant Professor of Biology
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About Sarah Lower

Educational Background

  • NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University
  • Ph.D., University of Georgia
  • B.A., Amherst College

Teaching Interests

  • Evolutionary Genomics (BIOL 325)

Research Interests

I am interested in how (genetic underpinnings) and why (evolutionary reasons) animals are so diverse. To examine these questions, I integrate data from different scales, from molecules to organismal traits, and approaches, from field studies to large-scale genome sequencing analysis. Though I have worked in a variety of animal systems, from hummingbirds to fruit flies, fireflies, and the origins and evolution of their intriguing flash signals, are the system that has captured my scientific imagination.

  • Evolution of firefly flash signals and the genes underlying signal production and reception
  • Repetitive DNA evolution
  • Origin and evolution of bioluminescence in beetles

Lab website

Selected Publications

(published as S. E. Sander or S. E. Lower)

1 denotes co-first authorship

Flynn, J. M.1, Lower, S. E.1, Barbash, D. A., Clark, A. (2018) Rates and patterns of mutation in tandem repetitive DNA in six independent lineages of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Genome Biology and Evolution, 10, 1673-1686.

Lower, S., McGurk, M., Clark, A., Barbash, D. (2018) Satellite DNA: old ideas, new approaches. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development, 49, 70-78.

Wei, K. H-C., Lower, S., Caldas, I. V., Sless, T. J., Barbash D. A., Clark, A. G. (2018) Variable rates of simple satellite gains across the Drosophila phylogeny. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35(4), 925-941.

Fallon, T. R.1, Lower, S. E.1, Chang C., Bessho-Uehara, M., Martin, G. J., Bewick, A. J., Behringer M., Debat, H. J., Wong, I., Day, J. C., Suvorov, A., Silva, C. J., Hall, D. W., Schmitz, R. J., Nelson, D. R., Lewis, S., Shigenobu, S., Bybee, S. M., Larracuente, A. M., Oba, Y., Weng, J. (2017). Firefly genomes illuminate the origin and evolution of bioluminescence. Biorxiv: 10.1101/237586.

Lower, S., Johnston, J., Stanger-Hall, K. F., Hjelmen, C. E., Hanrahan, S. J., Korunes, K., & Hall, D. (2017) Genome size in North American fireflies: Substantial variation likely driven by neutral processes. Genome Biology and Evolution, 9(6), 1499-1512.

Sander, S.E. & Hall D.W. (2015) Variation in opsin genes correlates with signaling ecology in North American fireflies. Molecular Ecology, 24(18), 4679-4696.

Sander, S. E., Altizer, S., de Roode, J. C., & Davis, A. K. (2013). Genetic factors and host traits predict spore morphology for a butterfly pathogen. Insects, 4(3), 447-462.

Further Information

Contact Details