AGA Elections October, 2023                 

Presidential Candidate Biographies:

Sudhir Kumar
Education: Dual degrees in B.E. (electrical and electronics engineering) and M.S. (biological sciences), Birla Institute of Tech. & Sci. (India, 1990); Ph.D. ﴾genetics﴿, Penn State Univ. (1996); Postdoctoral Fellow, Penn State Univ. (1996‐1998). Appointments: Assistant Professor (1998–2002), Associate Professor (2002–2006), Director, Center for Evolutionary Functional Genomics (2002–2010), Professor (2006–2012), Foundation Professor (2011–2014), and Regents’ Professor (2012–2014), Arizona State Univ.; Laura H. Carnell Professor of Biology; Director, Institute for Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine, Temple Univ. (2014–). Service: President, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE, 2013﴿; councilor SMBE (2012–2014); Secretary, SMBE (2004–2006); Webmaster, American Genetic Association (1999–2007); chair and member of numerous NIH and NSF grant review panels. Editorial: Editor-in-Chief, Molecular Biology and Evolution (2012–2022); Specialty Chief Editor, Frontiers in Bioinformatics (2023–); Associate Editor, Journal of Heredity (1999–2005); Editorial Board, Genome Research (2005–2009). Awards: Innovation Award in Functional Genomics, Burroughs-Wellcome Fund (2000); Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2009); Outstanding Alumni Science Award, Penn State Univ. (2015); Community Service Award, SMBE (2017); Visiting Fellowship Award, Japanese Society for Promotion of Science (2020 & 2008); Dean’s Distinguished Excellence in Research Award, Temple Univ. (2021). Citations: Top-100 Most Cited Article of All Time (see Nature, 09/29/2014); Highly Cited Researcher, Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch (2021–2022);  Top-100 Scientist by Platinum H-Index (see Arch. Env./Occupational Health, 2015, 70:69-67); multiple Citation Classics (e.g.,  PNAS 101:11030-11035) and multiple Hot Papers (e.g., Nature 392:917-920). Research interests: Genomic Evolutionary Medicine, Molecular Phylogenetics, Computational Biology, Bioinformatics resources (MEGA software at; TimeTree database at


Michael W. Nachman
Academic Appointments: Professor, Department of Integrative Biology and Director, Museum
of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley (2013-present); Professor (2003-
2013), Associate Professor (2000-2003), Assistant Professor (1996-1999), Department of
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Program in Genetics, University of Arizona; Research
Associate, Section of Genetics and Development, Cornell University (1994-1995), NIH
Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University (1991-1994), NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Oxford
University (1990). Education: PhD (1990), MS (1987) Department of Biology, University of
Michigan; BA (1983), with honors, Department of Zoology, UC Berkeley. Awards: Fellow,
California Academy of Sciences (elected 2014); Fellow, AAAS (elected 2005); Fellow, Galileo
Circle Faculty, University of Arizona (elected 2009); University of Arizona Early Career
Teaching Award (2005), NIH-NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow (1991-1994); NSF-NATO
Postdoctoral Fellow (1990). Service: Associate Editor, GENETICS (2008-present); Senior Editor
for Empirical Population Genetics, GENETICS (2014-2017); Associate Editor, PLOS Genetics
(2008-2017); Associate Editor, Molecular Biology and Evolution (2003-2016); Section Editor
for Evolution, PLOS Genetics (2008-2012); Guest Editor, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution,
and Systematics (2008-2009); Associate Editor, Evolution (2003-2006); Associate Editor,
American Naturalist (2002-2005); Editorial Board, Systematic Biology (1998-2000); Director,
University of Arizona NSF-IGERT Program in Comparative Genomics, 2002 -2013; American
Genetic Association Council Member (2007-2010); AAAS Electorate Nominating Committee
Section of Biological Sciences (2009-2012); Academy of Finland Scientific Advisory Board
(2006-2011); Gordon Research Conferences Council Member (2006-2009); NIH study sections
(2003, 2005, 2010, 2012; 2018, 2020); NSF panels (1999-2001, 2004, 2005). Research
interests: population genetics, genetics of adaptation and speciation, conservation genetics.
Current research includes studies on the genetic basis of adaptation involving complex traits in
mice that have recently colonized new environments, and population genomic studies of birds
and mammals of conservation concern.


Councilor Candidate Biographies:

Melanie Culver

I have been a practicing geneticist for almost 40 years, first working on the Human Genome project at Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Utah under Dr. Ray White, and now with my own Conservation Genomics lab at the University of Arizona for the past 20 years. My career shift from human genetics to wildlife conservation genetics allowed me to combine my genetic career with my passion for wildlife conservation. My lab has always focused on molecular taxonomy, population genetics, kinship, molecular ecology, and ancient DNA. Over time we have expanded into whole genome sequencing; eDNA metagenomics for biodiversity monitoring of marine, freshwater, and sediment sampling; and most recently into whole virome sequencing for wildlife health and OneHealth. I believe in giving back where I can, such as by providing service to professional and societal organizations. I would be delighted to serve on the AGA council to devote my expertise and time to a genetic-focused organization that I know, and because my roots have always been in genetics. I first joined the AGA in the early 1990s, and have been a member for over 30 years, with some unintended lapses. I attended the AGA meetings yearly during the 1990s, and more recently I prefer to send my Ph.D. students to AGA symposia so they can benefit from the networking opportunities and job-finding potential. My students and I have published 10 papers in the Journal of Heredity. I have also served as President of my local chapter of The Wildlife Society, Secretary for the Southwest Chapter of The Wildlife Society, a Council member for the Wild Felid Research and Management Association, and a founding member for 2 organizations: University of Arizona Wild Cat Center; the Virginia Tech Conservation Biology Institute.


Alfred Roca

Dr. Alfred Luis Roca Romero is tenured Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where his laboratory conducts genomic, phylogenetic, and population and conservation genetic research on wild and domesticated animals. Roca earned his PhD at Harvard University, and conducted postdoctoral research at the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity of the NIH on mammalian genetics and on endogenous retroviruses. Roca has authored more than 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented invited lectures at 60 venues. He was selected as a Fulbright American Scholar to Denmark, and recently honored by his college as recipient of the Paul A. Funk Recognition Faculty Award for Global Impact. Roca’s research on elephant genetics was cited by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as critical for their recent recognition that African forest and savanna elephants comprise distinct species requiring separate conservation strategies. He is currently working closely with Indonesian colleagues on genetic analyses of two highly endangered species of rhinoceros, and serves as genetics advisor to the Rhinoceros Research Council. Roca is deeply connected to the American Genetic Association (AGA) and the Journal of Heredity (JOH). Roca was the lead organizer for several conferences, including an AGA Conservation Genetics Conference. He served as an instructor at ten of the AGA-sponsored courses on Recent Advances in Conservation Genetics. These enroll several dozen students, including a substantial proportion from the Global South. Roca independently sponsored students from Indonesia and Nepal to attend these AGA courses. He has contributed a dozen papers to the JOH, one of which received an AGA award for best paper by a graduate student. Roca has for over two decades peer-reviewed manuscripts submitted to the JOH, and currently serves as an Academic Editor for the journal. If selected for Council, he would seek to enhance the impact of the AGA and JOH in advancing science, ensuring quality and rapid peer review, and promoting positive change while nurturing the next generation of scientists.


Oliver Ryder

Dr. Oliver Ryder is the Kleberg Endowed Director of Conservation Genetics at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. His current work focuses on biobanking, molecular genetics, genomics, and genetic rescue efforts, including stem cell applications, all focused on reducing extinction risk and contributing to species recovery and sustainable populations. He guides strategic efforts to foster and expand a global network of cryobanking facilities, especially for viable cell cultures, as Chair of the newly-formed Animal Biobanking for Conservation Specialist Group of SSC-IUCN. Oliver has a long history of involvement with AGA. He has served multiple terms on Council, been Secretary, Executive Vice-President and President, when he organized the Presidential Symposium on Primate Genetics. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Heredity and published repeatedly in it over the years. Oliver’s publications include key studies relevant to conservation management efforts for gorillas, California condors, African rhinos, Przewalski’s horses, Pacific pocket mouse, bighorn sheep, and other species. He was a co-organizer of the Genome 10K, is a Steering Committee member of the Vertebrate Genome Project, and a member of the Earth Biogenome Project. An AAAS fellow, recognized for contributions to understanding and conserving genetic diversity, Oliver’s scientific achievements in animal health and species conservation  have been recognized by the Explorer’s Club, American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He received a PhD in Biology from the University of California, San Diego, where he is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Evolution, Behavior and Ecology.


Ana Paula A. Assis

I was recently hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, one of the leading research institutions in Latin America. My research explores how ecological and evolutionary processes interact to determine populations’ responses to environmental changes. Adaptive responses to selection are shaped not only by the magnitude and direction of selection, but also by patterns of genetic variation and covariation among traits. Throughout my career I have been studying how these two components interact to determine the direction and rate of multivariate adaptive evolution using a combination of empirical and theoretical approaches grounded in quantitative genetics and ecological theory. In addition, a core value to me is working towards increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM through different initiatives, such as serving as a member at the diversity committee of SSE (society for the study of evolution) from 2020-2022. During this time, I helped create and implement a system to offer free English revision for manuscripts submitted to Evolution by English as a Second Language authors (the Evo English Language Support initiative, EELS). I believe that science thrives in diversity-rich environments, and as an AGA council member I will work to promote and pursue ways to widen representation.


W. Chris Funk
Chris Funk is a Professor of Conservation Genomics and Evolutionary Ecology in the Biology
Department and Director of the Global Biodiversity Center at Colorado State University.
Research themes in the Funk Lab include application of population genetic theory and genomic
tools to conservation problems; interactions between gene flow, adaptation, and fitness; and
climate change vulnerability and adaptive capacity. His group studies amphibians, reptiles, fish,
mammals, birds, and insects, with a focus in western North American and the South American
tropics. Funk received his PhD under Fred Allendorf and Andy Sheldon at the University of
Montana. He is devoted to improving the integration of genetic concepts and genomic tools into
national (U.S. Endangered Species Act) and international (Convention on Biological Diversity)
conservation policy. As part of this effort, he serves as a member of the IUCN Conservation
Genetics Specialist Group, GEO BON Genetic Composition Working Group, and Coalition for
Conservation Genetics. He has authored over130 publications including recent papers in PNAS,
TREE, Nature Ecology & Evolution, Current Biology, Molecular Ecology, and the Journal of
Heredity, and is coauthor of Conservation and the Genomics of Populations (Oxford University
Press, 2022). Funk is a Leopold Leadership Fellow, and was elected a Fellow of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science. As an AGA council member, Funk is excited to
bring his experience in conservation genomics and the science-policy space to advance AGA’s
mission “to encourage the study of comparative genetics and genomics, in order to document,
conserve, and manage organismal diversity”.


Early Career Councilor Candidate Biography:

Brendan J. Pinto
Brendan Pinto received his PhD in 2020 under the guidance of Tony Gamble. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ USA under the supervision of Melissa A. Wilson. His research focuses on genome evolution with a focus on sex chromosomes in lizards and has published broadly on the subject. He was appointed as the inaugural Early Career Researcher position for the American Genetic Association (AGA) in January 2023 and as an Associate Editor for its flagship the Journal of Heredity in September 2023. He has held elected governance positions at the university level since 2011 and is excited to bring new energy to the AGA council. Since its inception 120 years ago, the AGA has continually strived for self-improvement. As a member of council and ex officio member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, Brendan looks forward to working with the AGA broadly to continue improving its service to both its members and to society more broadly.



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Diversity of mitochondrial DNA in 3 species of great whales before and after modern whaling

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