Melissa T. Roberts
- Phone: (202)633-1266
- Fax: (202)633-0182
- E-mail: robertsmt[at]si.edu
- Mailing Address:
PO Box 37012, MRC 108
Washington, DC 20013-7012
- Shipping Address:
National Museum of Natural History
1000 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
M.S. (Biology): Western Illinois University, 2009
B.S. (Zoology): Western Illinois University, 2007
My interests are primarily molecular phylogenetics, biogeography, conservation genetics, and evolutionary genomics. I am currently working on my dissertation research incorporating multiple bureaus of the Smithsonian Institution as well as George Mason University and the Doñana Research Station in Sevilla, Spain. I am using ancient DNA techniques in conjunction with next-generation sequencing technologies to create a subfamily phylogeny for a group of Southeast Asian tree squirrels from sequences of the entire mitochondrial genome. I am hoping to clarify the relationships both between and within species, as the group is highly polymorphic and astonishingly understudied. I am also hoping to compare the diverse group of tree squirrels with the unrelated treeshrews to evaluate the evolutionary pressures leading to convergence. In addition, I will travel to Southeast Asia to capture and sample squirrels across altitudinal gradients, for which we will test hypotheses related to island biogeography, and specifically patterns of colonization and speciation in a geologically dynamic archipelago. We will also make direct comparisons between modern samples collected on expeditions, to those currently stored at the National Museum of Natural History to evaluate potential changes over time, due to both human occurrence and potentially alterations in climate. The results of this research could have far reaching implications for biogeography, evolutionary genomics and will likely revise the taxonomy of this polymorphic group of squirrels.
Ahlering, M. A., L. S. Eggert, D. Western, A. Estes, L. Munishi, R. Fleischer, M. T. Roberts, and J. E. Maldonado. 2012. Identifying source populations and genetic structure for savannah elephants in human-dominated landscapes and protected areas in the Kenya-Tanzania borderlands. PLoS ONE, 7(12): e52288. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052288
Ahlering, M. A., Hailer, F., Roberts, M. T., and Foley, C. 2011. A simple and accurate method to sex savanna, forest and Asian elephants using non-invasive sampling techniques. Molecular Ecology Resources, 11: 831-834.