Bryan Atkinson

Bryan Atkinson
Mentor: Dr. Michael Miyamoto
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
 
"As a child, I was always the inquisitive sort with an outgoing personality. I wanted to learn more and more so that I could understand the world around me at a heightened conceptual level. During college, with the help of a few phenomenal professors, I found a deep self-rooted interest within mathematics and genomics/informatics. I began taking master’s level graduate courses my sophomore year (academically a senior) and was introduced to how fluid and interesting research can be. Now, coming up with various long term experimental ideas myself, I eventually want to lead my own research lab to contribute toward multidisciplinary projects previously impossible before big data."

Major

Mathematics

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Gene Regulation
  • Computational Biology

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program
  • Florida College System All-Florida Academic Team
  • President's Honor Roll
  • Summa Cum Laude, Saint Petersburg College

Organizations

  • UF Virology Club
  • Gainesville Cycling Club
  • Golden Key International Honour Society

Volunteer

  • Gainesville Equal Access Clinic
  • Relay for Life
  • Kiwanis Horses for Handicapped

Hobbies and Interests

  • Road Biking
  • Recreational Competitive Computer Games
  • Academically Assisting Classmates
  • Cycling

Research Description

Life History Covariates of Sex-biased Dispersal in Placental Mammals

The dispersal of animals from their birthplace to other sites for breeding and feeding purposes constitutes one of the most important set of events in the life history of a species. These dispersals are almost always sex-biased such that one sex of a species will disperse to a higher frequency or greater extent than the other. Furthermore, animal dispersal is a largely interdisciplinary subject by nature as one’s movements derive from or contribute to the behavior, sociology, evolution, ecology, genetics, and conservation of a species. Recently, Mabry et al. reported on a phylogenetic comparative study spanning 48 placental mammal species and discussed whether their variation in sex-biased dispersal was associated with a chosen mating system (i.e., monogamy versus non-monogamy). While generating significant acclaim, the authors failed to find any consistently significant association -- thereby leaving open the question of what life history trait(s) drive the variation in sex-biased dispersal. Attempting to resolve this question, I shall extend Mabry et al.’s analysis of 48 placental mammal species via the PanTHERIA database to include 7 additional life history traits across 58/79 total species, for maximum and median natal dispersal distance, respectively. The importance of these seven characters has been previously shown through the work of Witmee and Omee in 2012. More specifically, my independent analysis will involve the single, multiple and possibly multivariate regression of these seven characters onto dispersal distance after correcting for phylogenetic covariation via Felsenstein's method of independent contrasts. The reference phylogeny used for these corrections will be derivative of the supertree and its ultrametric branch lengths developed by Bininda-Emonds et al. for placental mammals. Furthermore, additional challenges arising from the need to test for phylogenetic signature prior to implementing Felsenstein’s methodology and the need to potentially work with biased missing data (i.e., not missing at random) will be addressed via this project, time permitting.