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Rebecca Spokony
Position: Associate Professor
Campus Affiliation: Baruch College|Graduate Center
Phone: (646) 660-6239
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. Insect Science, University of Arizona; B.S. Biology, Cornell University
Subprogram: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Research Interests: Hormonal control of development
Research Focus: Evolution|Molecular Biology, Genomics And Biochemistry|Gene Expression/Regulation|Genetics/Development|Neuroscience

Social media: Twitter

Rebecca Spokony's research is focused on hormonal control of development. Many insects have an extreme version of plasticity called polyphenism, exhibiting new body parts in response to nutritional availability or crowding. These alternative morphologies are often controlled by a small molecule called juvenile hormone. Despite being a system-wide hormonal signal, only certain tissues respond to temporal and titer changes of juvenile hormone. Spokony's research aims to elucidate the genetic basis of juvenile hormone sensitivity in Drosophila melanogaster and use this as a model for the developmental control of polyphenisms in hexapoda. She is currently determining the range of natural variation in hormone sensitivity. Spokony plans to perform a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) to determine the genetic architecture of this phenotypic variation and establish the role of the genes targeted by the polymorphisms. Interpreting the functional importance of polymorphisms is greatly aided by the high quality annotations of the Drosophila melanogaster genome, in particular histone marks and transcription factor binding sites determined by the modENCODE project.