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Windsor AguirreSUNY AGEP W. Burghardt Turner Faculty Traineeship Fellowship
State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook
I am a city boy; I was born in Queens, NY and attended grade school in Manhattan. I moved around quite a bit between the U.S. and Ecuador when I was a kid, which played an important role in expanding my views on global issues. Despite the change in settings, I always wanted to be a biologist.
My training in biology is quite diverse. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador where my education was strong in organismal biology. I moved back to the United States for graduate school and got my M.S. at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, University of Southern Mississippi. I worked with Stuart Poss studying inner ear structure and evolution in an economically important estuarine group of fishes, the Sciaenidae. From there, I went on to get my Ph.D. at Stony Brook University working with Michael A. Bell studying the evolutionary biology of the threespine stickleback fish, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Stickleback are one of the hottest systems in evolutionary biology at the moment so I was fortunate to work with them. My dissertation addressed contemporary evolution and the interaction between gene flow and natural selection in Alaskan stickleback. Among other things, I found that major morphological changes, similar to the differences that we see among species or even genera, can evolve in a matter of decades given the right ecological conditions and sufficient genetic variation. I also found that even over very small geographic distances, local environmental conditions can select for adaptively important genes in the stickleback system despite genetic exchange from divergent neighboring populations.
I'm presently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stony Brook sponsored by the W. Burghardt Fellowship Program. I teach (a lab course in Molecular Diversity and Chordate Zoology) and study the factors regulating evolutionary diversification and speciation. I am continuing with my research on evolution using stickleback, but I am also developing research on the evolution of freshwater fishes in northwestern South America. At the moment, I am particularly interested in niche evolution in characiform fishes.
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