“Is he a postdoc or a PhD student?”

“Is he a postdoc or a PhD student?”: Ben Van Doren, who graduated from Cornell just this past May and who is shortly off to Oxford as a Marshall Scholar, gave an in-depth presentation at the NAOC on his comparative genomic study of stonechats from populations across Eurasia and Africa. Ben’s talk covered both the theoretical background for how genomes become differentiated and his empirical findings on demographic effects, and on conserved genomics islands of differentiation that are likely mediated by variation across the genome in recombination rates. The computational and analytical approaches required to investigate these patters are very sophisticated, and it was abundantly clear — both in his talk and in the question period afterwards — that Ben really, really knows his stuff. I really did get the headline question from a colleague afterwards, and I had to stifle a grin when I responded that no, Ben is just a Cornell undergrad… 🙂

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