Skip to content

Welcome to the webpage of the Sztepanacz Lab of Evolutionary Genetics in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto

Our overarching goal is to understand the evolutionary limits of populations. Many factors contribute to these evolutionary limits, and these are what we study. Research in the lab focuses on studies of natural and sexual selection, sexual conflict, the evolution and maintenance of genetic variation, and the genetic architecture of traits such as patterns of pleiotropy. We take many approaches to address our overarching goal, both empirical and computational. Empirical research in the lab uses the mighty workhorse of genetics- the endearing Drosophila.

We do behavioural experiments, quantitative genetics and genomics, comparative analyses, and develop new approaches for the analysis of multivariate data. We use Drosophila as a model organism, and most of what we do involves whole-organism assays of fitness, morphology, behaviour, and pheromones. We are particularly interested in the contact pheromones of insects, which are used for species recognition, desiccation resistance, and sexual selection. We are also interested in fly-wings which have high genetic variation, yet perplexingly low rates of evolution. To generate the big datasets needed to answer our questions, we use a high-throughput gas chromatography system to quantify pheromones, and a high-throughput system called the ‘wingmachine’ to characterize wing morphology.

To learn more about our research and ongoing projects check out the research page. If you are interested in joining the lab check out the join page for information on how to join the lab.

Lab news

May 2022: Kevin successfully defends his MSc!! Congratulations Kevin! 🎉

September 2021: Welcome to Alex, Kieran, Gary, and Alice!

May 2020: Hana starts her NSERC-USRA project looking at phenotypic plasticity in pheromones and Daniel starts his Northrop Frye Research Scholarship to learn all about flies and how to study genetic variation

November 2020: Jacqueline presents some of her new work on the evolution of sexual dimorphism at ICQG6 “in Brisbane” (she wishes!)

September 2020: Kevin Doheny joins the lab as a new graduate student. Welcome Kevin!

April 2020: Jacqueline is awarded the 2020 Dobzhansky Prize from the SSE.

January 2020: Jacqueline starts her Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Oslo, Norway. She is part of the project Evolvability: A new and unifying concept in evolutionary biology? led by Thomas Hansen (UiO) and Christophe Pelabon (NTNU).

July 2019: The Sztepanacz lab is established in the EEB Department at the University of Toronto!