Anna Vickrey works in Dr. Michael Shapiro’s lab at the University of Utah. She is interested in understanding the genetic, developmental, and evolutionary basis of variation. Birds in particular display an enormous amount of variation that has evolved under natural, sexual, and artificial selection. Relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms that produce this variation. In order to identify genes, mutations, and developmental pathways that produce particular traits in birds, her lab studies the rock pigeon. Rock pigeons are an ideal species in which to study variation because of the tremendous phenotypic diversity present among over 350 breeds.
The lab is currently investigating a variety of traits in rock pigeons, including colors and color patterns, feather ornaments, and flying behaviors. Similar traits are present in wild species of birds, and learning about the molecular and evolutionary basis of these traits in pigeons helps her learn about the same traits in wild species.
Anna has about 40 pet pigeons, and loves birding, bird banding, road biking, trail running, and cooking in her free time.