Michael J Stanhope

I am an evolutionary biologist with approximately 30 years of experience studying a wide range of organisms and topics in evolutionary biology. During my Ph.D. research at Simon Fraser University I became interested in applying molecular biology techniques to the evolutionary ecology questions I was studying in an estuarine gammarid amphipod, and in the process became one of a few people at the time forging a new discipline, today regarded as Molecular Ecology.

My post-doctoral work was conducted with Professor Morris Goodman at Wayne State University where I studied various aspects of molecular evolution and phylogenetics of mammals. It was during this period that I developed a pronounced interest in higher-level mammalian systematics and was one of the first to pioneer the use of nuclear genes for molecular systematic study of the interordinal relationships of eutherian mammals.

My first faculty appointment was at Queen’s University of Belfast, where I remained for 6 years, leaving in 1999 as Reader of Molecular Systematics. At Queen’s my lab studied molecular evolution and phylogenetics of organisms ranging from algae to sharks to mammals, but with the primary focus being the evolutionary history of the orders of eutherian mammals. We made a number of important discoveries in this line of research including the discovery of a new order of eutherian mammal (Afrosoricida) as well as a superordinal clade of African mammals (Afrotheria).

In 1999 I took a position as a Research Scientist in the bioinformatics department of the pharmaceutical company SmithKline Beecham (SKB). In 2000 Glaxo Welcome merged with SKB to form Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) and I was appointed as head of Evolutionary Biology in the GSK bioinformatics department. Our role was to provide an evolutionary biology perspective to problems of interest and concern to GSK, and since my group was well integrated with the company’s microbiologists, our activities fell predominately within the realm of viral and bacterial molecular evolution. It was this work at GSK that created my fascination (and respect) with bacterial molecular evolution.

I joined Cornell University in 2005, as Professor of Evolutionary Genomics in the department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, in the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. My lab here at Cornell studies comparative and population genomics of animal and human pathogenic bacteria.

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