About Me

Kevin Bird

I am interested in studying the evolutionary impact of structural variation in plant genomes, with particular focus on gene presence/ absence variation and genome duplications. My work is broadly motivated by an interest in understanding the combination of neutral and adaptive features that maintain duplicate genes, the role of whole-genome duplication and gene content variation in evolutionary novelty, and using genomics to dissect complex traits and understand the evolutionary history of crop plants.

I am currently an NSF Plant Genome Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UC Davis working with Dan Kliebenstein and Grey Monroe. My project focuses on how gene network topology relates to epistasis. Specifically, I am using natural loss-of-function alleles in Arabidopsis thaliana to explore how gene networks may constrain and structure genetic variation to maintain mutational robustness while permitting, and even facilitating, adaptive evolution. Additionally, I am also working on pangenome projects and genome evolution across the Brassicaceae.

Kevin Bird

I completed my PhD in Horticulture and Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at Michigan State University with Pat Edger and Bob Van Buren. My dissertation work focused on the genomics and genome evolution of allopolyploids with special attention paid to the causes and consequences of subgenome dominance, gene dosage constraints on genome duplications and homoeologous exchanges, and the use phylogenomics to understand the evolution and origin of complex polyploid species.

Prior to my PhD work, I received a BS in Biological Sciences and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Missouri-Columbia where I was advised by J. Chris Pires. There, I collaborated with the USDA and Michael Gore to sequence a diverse panel of Brassica rapa (e.g. turnip, pak choi, chinese cabbage, etc) and learn about population structure and evolutionary relationships of different cultivars (see publications). Afterwards, I was a Fulbright fellow at the VIB/Ugent under Steven Maere where I assisted on a project investigating the evolution of gene regulatory networks using a novel mechanistic modeling framework and a project using single-plant omics to investigate the wiring of plant traits directly in the field.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.