Nature Research Center

Genomics & Microbiology

The Genomics & Microbiology Research Laboratory investigates the connection between genotype (DNA sequence) and phenotype (traits and characteristics) that make flora and fauna unique. Research in the lab uses genetic and genomic techniques to address a wide variety of evolutionary and taxonomic topics that have relevance to health, disease, and conservation.

Dr. Julie Horvath’s research focuses on primate comparisons and currently includes studies of genes in the gray mouse lemur, DNA comparisons of different primate genes involved in tooth enamel formation and investigations of the microorganisms that live on humans and our close primate relatives.

Dr. Julie Urban’s research focuses on planthopper insects and this summer will involve collecting planthoppers in North and South Carolina to examine the unique microorganisms that live inside them and provision them with nutrients not available in their plant sap diet.

Other researchers in the lab are investigating the relationships of native North Carolina fishes as well as local and global populations of amphibians and reptiles. Some of this research is utilizing and adding to the extensive specimen collections currently owned by the Museum. Genetic studies focus primarily on one or a few genes or loci, while genomic studies compare and analyze all genes or sequences of organisms simultaneously. This offers many levels to engage the public and junior scientists and volunteers.

Director: Dr. Julie Horvath

Assistant Director: Dr. Julie Urban