Karlsson lab members

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Headshot of Elinor Karlsson
Associate Professor

Elinor K. Karlsson, PhD

Associate Professor at the UMass Chan Medical School and Director of Vertebrate Genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Elinor Karlsson, PhD, is associate professor in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology at the UMass Chan Medical School, and director of Vertebrate Genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her research combines new technology, community science and genomics to investigate diseases and discover the origins of exceptional mammalian traits. Dr. Karlsson’s research includes the Zoonomia project, an international effort to compare the genomes of over 240 mammals (from the African Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax to the Woodland Dormouse), to identify segments of DNA that are important for survival and health. Dr. Karlsson has a special interest in dog genetics, and her international Darwin’s Ark project invites all dog owners to enroll their dogs in an open data research project exploring the genetic basis of behavior, as well as diseases such as cancer.

Elinor received her B.A. in biochemistry/cell biology and her B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts) from Rice University, and earned her Ph.D. in bioinformatics from Boston University. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Pardis Sabeti at Harvard University before starting her research group at UMass Chan in 2014.

Executive Director

Charlie Lieu

Executive Director of Darwin's Ark Foundation

Passionate about driving positive changes in the world, Charlie’s body of work focuses on advancing scientific and social good. With more than two decades of experience in business, science, and engineering, she brings deep analytics to strategic planning and execution, as well as a long track record of successfully translating ambitious ideas into reality. A trained bioinformatician and an original member of the human genome project, Charlie is heading up Darwin’s Ark Foundation, the non-profit she co-founded to enable the scientific vision of the Darwin’s Ark Initiative.
Headshot of Kathryn Lord
Postdoctoral Fellow

Kathryn Lord, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow at the U Mass Chan Medical School and at the Broad Institute

Kathryn Lord received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Her general area of interest is the evolution and development of behavior. She is particularly interested in how complex behaviors that develop over the lifetime of an animal can evolve over generations. She uses dogs and wolves as her main system for investigating these questions. Kathryn has been a member of the Karlsson lab since 2016.
Head shot of Brittney
Data Research Specialist ll

Brittney Kenney, BS

Data Research Specialist ll at UMass Chan Medical School

Brittney’s goal is to help people live better lives with their four-legged friends. To do so, she studied animal behavior and worked with service dogs to arm herself with hands-on experience on advanced training methods. At Darwin’s Ark, Brittney manages logistics for Darwin’s Dogs and Working Dog projects, as well as support community science participants. She also assists with research in the Wolf Hybrid project and works related to critical periods of socialization between dogs and wolves.
Computational Scientist

Ross Swofford, BS

Computational Staff Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Former Lab Rat

Associate Computational Biologist

Jason Turner-Maier, MS

Computational Staff Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Graduate Student

Vista Sohrab, BS

Graduate student at UMass Chan Medical School

headshot of Diane Genereux
Research Scientist

Diane Genereux, PhD

Research Scientist II at Broad Institute

Advisor for Darwin's Ark Foundation

Marjie Alonso

A certified trainer and behavior consultant, Marjie is a leading voice in the animal behavior world and holds numerous professional designations including CDBC, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP. She is the Executive Director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants Foundation (IAABC Foundation), which provides behavior input and expertise to people all over the world. The organization is a strong proponent of scientific understanding and exploration of animal behavior, and of varied disciplines working together in furtherance of understanding and learning.
Assistant Professor

Frances Chen, DVM PhD

Assistant Professor at UMass Chan Medical School

Frances is a veterinary scientist and assistant professor in the Karlsson lab committed to the advancement of comparative and translational canine science. She joined the group in order to advance collaborations between the lab, industry, and nonprofit partners in canine genomics and veterinary research. Having raised 15 guide/service dog puppies, Frances has a special passion for working dogs and background in the working dog community. She has particular research interests in genetic and genomic studies in this population, not only to investigate molecular pathways relevant to canine and human disease, but also to directly improve the health, behavior, and success of working dogs.

Frances received her combined DVM/PhD degree from Cornell University, where she was awarded an NIH F30 fellowship for clinician-scientists. Prior to joining the Karlsson lab, Frances was Head of Veterinary Translational Medicine at Loyal, a translational canine aging startup, where she was recruited to the founding team and oversaw veterinary clinical studies investigating canine healthspan. Frances currently shares her life with Canine Companions future service dog “Noodles” and “Pandan,” a Doberman pup enrolled in the Doberman Diversity Project.

Program Director

Tera Bowers, BA

Visiting Researcher at Broad Institute

Tera has over 15 years experience in next-gen sequencing, life sciences, academia and pharmaceutical industry. Her strong relational and interpersonal communication skills have allowed her to create a network of KOLs within genetics, oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular and the CRISPR space. She joined the Karlsson lab with the desire to uncover new partnerships and collaborations to bring canine research awareness to the genomics industry. We have learned that by digging into the canine side of genomics, we can more quickly uncover new therapeutic targets for humans.
Research Associate III

Michele Koltookian, MS

Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts.

Graduate Student

Xue Li (Shirley), MS

Graduate student at UMass Chan Medical School

Shirley graduated with B.S. degree in biotechnology from Sun Yat-sen university in Guangzhou, China. Two years later, she got her M.S. degree in bioinformatics from Worcester Polygenic Institute in Worcester, MA. Shirley joined the Karlsson Lab in 2015 and since then has focused on Canine behavior and genetics. Her thesis project investigates the genetics of social behaviors in wolf-dog hybrids. She is also interested in comparative and evolutionary genomics and, as a member of the Zoonomia consortium, has been involved in multiple Zoonomia projects.
Graduate Student

Chris Husted, MS

Graduate student at UMass Chan Medical School

headshot of Kate Megquier
Postdoctoral fellow

Kate Megquier, DVM PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Broad Institute

Assistant Professor

Rachel Daniels, PhD

Assistant Professor at UMass Chan Medical School

Postdoctoral Associate

Lucas R. Moreira, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow at UMass Chan Medical School

Lucas R. Moreira is a NSF postodoctoral fellow studying the genomic and epigenomic basis of mammalian flexible homeostasis. He is leveraging multi-omics data to understand how the cell of many species are able to maintain homeostasis in face of adverse environmental conditions.
Research Scientist

Rachel Johnston, PhD

Visiting Researcher at Broad Institute, and Conservation Genomics Scientist at Zoo New England

Graduate Student

Gaurav Chauhan, MS

Graduate student at UMass Chan Medical School

Former Karlsson Lab Team Members

Kathleen Morrill, PhD

Jesse McClure, PhD

Hyun Ji Noh, PhD

Jessica Heckman, DVM PhD

Headshot of Michelle White

Michelle White, DVM PhD

Linda Boettger, PhD

Jeremy Johnson, PMP

Tanya M. Lama, PhD