Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize 2013/14 – Tom Booker


Tom Booker (University of Edinburgh)

I am very grateful to have been awarded the Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize and would like to thank The Genetics Society for the honour and Professor Andrew Leigh-Brown for the nomination. I would also like to thank my supervisors Deborah Charlesworth and Rob Ness for their guidance during the project.

My MSc thesis was titled “Searching for Balancing Selection on a Mimicry Supergene in the Batesian Mimic Papilio polytes”. Theory predicts that natural selection maintaining variation in a population will leave footprints in the genome. Using a variety of population genetic techniques I found evidence consistent with balancing selection having acted to maintain multiple colour patterns within the butterfly species Papilio polytes. However, further study is required to fully understand this system.

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Stirling, where I received a BSc in ecology. My undergraduate thesis was on the ecology of a newly evolved plant species. That work got me interested in doing an MSc in evolutionary genetics at the University of Edinburgh. I am now a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Peter Keightley in Edinburgh, currently working on understanding the contribution of background selection to patterns of genetic diversity in murid rodents.