Abigail Hummel

 
Mentor: Dr. Stuart McDaniel
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
 
"The opportunity to be on the forefront of relevant and important scientific inquiry has always appealed to me. When I came to the University of Florida, I had the chance to be a part of the inaugural class of X-Lab, the cross-disciplinary laboratory that combined biology, chemistry, and physics into integrated research projects that were both challenging and engaging. X-Lab opened my eyes to the breadth and depth of research going on at UF, and it inspired me to explore and discover all of the opportunities that the incredible Biology Department has to offer. I am extremely lucky to have found a lab that supports and encourages my personal research endeavors as well as my growth as a scientist."

Major

Biology

Minor

English, Linguistics

Research Interests

  • Evolutionary Genetics
  • Botany
  • Marine Science

Academic Awards

  • National Merit Scholarship (2012 - present)
  • NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship (2014 - present)

Organizations

  • Shakespeare in the Park
  • GROW Botany
  • PRISM Honors Program Magazine

Volunteer

  • PRISM Honors Program Magazine

Hobbies and Interests

  • Theatre
  • Travel
  • Cooking
  • Writing

Research Description

Chromosomal inversion in Ceratodon purpureus causes local variation

A central problem in evolutionary genetics is to understand what forces maintain genetic variation for fitness in natural populations. One example of such a force is spatially variable selection, whereby natural selection favors different allele frequencies in different populations of the same species. A classic example of a polymorphism that is maintained in natural populations despite theoretically strong selection against it is the case of chromosomal inversions. Chromosomal inversions are formed when part of a chromosome breaks off, reverses direction, and then reattaches to the rest of the chromosome. The effect of this mutation on individual gene expression is negligible; however, chromosomal inversions often have lethal impacts on the offspring of heterozygotes, as crossover events between chromosomes of different inversion types during meiosis lead to incomplete chromosomes segregating in gametes. The McDaniel lab now has evidence that a putative chromosomal inversion is present at the adk locus in eastern North American populations of the moss Ceratodon purpureus. My research project aims to characterize the putative adk inversion in order to draw conclusions about why chromosomal inversions are often maintained in natural populations despite being highly evolutionarily disadvantageous.