I am a PhD candidate in the Field of Genetics, Genomics & Development in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University

As a geneticist, I am interested in sources of variation that lead to phenotypic differences within a population. These sources of variation may be genetic, environmental, or a combination of the two. Genetic variation plays a critical role in how one individual differs from another, and one’s biological characteristics are further influenced by environmental context. The unique interactions between our genome and the environment make up who we are.

My dissertation work at Cornell, supervised by Dr. Andrew G. Clark (National Academy of Sciences member), involves the use of quantitative and population genetics. Here, we are interested in predicting an individual's gene expression based on their genetic factors: A primer for precision medicine with the goal of understanding individual responses to pharmaceuticals.

Prior to starting my PhD, I spent four years researching associations between genetic factors and preterm birth; a common, complex disease that impacts 1 in every 8 babies born in the United States. Mentorship from Dr. Jeffrey C. Murray (University of Iowa, past president of ASHG, Gates Foundation), potential impact of research, and a love for problem solving, were strong reasons I developed a passion in the sciences.

I have a nontraditional background and graduated with a B.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. An educational foundation in the arts has provided a unique perspective to problem solving, and continues to foster curiosity and creativity in daily activities.

Keegan Kelsey
March 2014