David Tian


evolution, genomics, conservation








Photo: Katheryn McGinnis

About Me

Hi! I'm a second year PhD student working with Chris Martin at UC Berkeley in the Department of Integrative Biology and the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. I am broadly interested in understanding how evolutionary forces shape the genetic variation underlying adaptation over time and space and how information is encoded in the genome to program the development and function of organismal diversity and complexity. To answer these questions, I apply functional genetic approaches to non-model organism systems in an effort to comprehensively link genotype, phenotype, performance, and fitness.

Photo: Katheryn McGinnis

Devils Hole Pupfish persistence

The Devils Hole Pupfish is a critically endangered species that lives in the smallest known habitat for a vertebrate in the world in Death Valley. Using genomics, I am investigating how isolation and small population size have shaped its genetic diversity over time as well as how unique deleterious variants may have influenced its recent decline. This work will better inform our understanding of the risks that isolated and endangered populations face.

Photo: NPS

Mosquito host preference behavior

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are potent disease vectors that have evolved a robust preference for humans as hosts. Thanks to advances in CRISPR transgenics, we are able to investigate the genetic and neural basis of this fascinating behavior and what makes human odor so attractive. Hopefully, this work will lead to novel techniques and strategies for disease control and public health.

Zhao, Z., Tian, D., and C. S. McBride. Development of a pan-neuronal driver in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. bioRxiv.

Photo: Zhilei Zhao

Butterfly wing pattern coloration

Heliconius butterflies exhibit striking diversity in wing patterns and have served as an excellent system for studying how morphology evolves and develops. Repeated Müllerian mimicry across different species allows us to investigate whether identical phenotypes arise from similar or novel developmental pathways.

Concha, C., Wallbank, W. R., Hanly, J., Fenner, J., Livraghi, L., Santiago, E., Paulo, D., Arias, C., Vargas, M., Sanjeev, M., Morrison, C., Tian, D., Massardo, D., Counterman, A. B., Scott, M., Jiggins, C., Papa, R., Martin, A. and W. O. McMillan. 2019. Interplay between developmental flexibility and determinism in the evolution of mimetic Heliconius wing patterns. Current Biology.

CV

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Education

University of California, Berkeley2019 - Present
PhD Student in Integrative Biology | Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
Advisor: Christopher Martin

Swarthmore College2013 - 2017
B.A. in Biology | Minor in History
Semester in Environmental Science at Marine Biological Laboratory (2015)
Advisor: Vince Formica

Teaching

Ecological Genetics (IB 162), UC BerkeleySpring 2020
- Graduate Student Instructor

Biology 1B, UC BerkeleyFall 2019
- Graduate Student Instructor

Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics in Microbial Communities, Kavli Institute for Theoretical PhysicsSummer 2017
- Teaching Assistant

Organismal and Population Biology, Swarthmore CollegeSpring 2017
- Science Associate

Social Engagement

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Marrakech, MoroccoFall 2016
- Student Delegate

Swarthmore Journal of Science, Swarthmore College2016 - 2017
- Biology Editor

Science for Kids Program, Swarthmore CollegeSummer 2015
- Student Mentor

Swarthmore Journal of Science, Swarthmore College2015-2016
- Biology Contributor

Presentations

Talks

Formica, V., Tian, D., and E. D. Brodie III. Social network position shapes nonlinear selection on weaponry. Evolution 2017, Portland, OR.2017

Tian, D., Concha, C., and W.O. McMillan. Linking genotype to phenotype: Using CRISPR/Cas9 to alter the wing pattern coloration of Heliconius butterflies. REU Research Symposium, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 2016

Tian, D. & C. Neill. Influence of soil characteristics on spatial distribution of Japanese Knotweed. SES Research Symposium, Marine Biological Laboratory.2015

Posters

Tian, D., Concha, C., & W.O. McMillan. Linking genotype to phenotype: Using CRISPR/Cas9 to alter the wing pattern coloration of Heliconius butterflies. Evolution 2017, Portland, OR.2017

Tian, D., Morrell, K., & A. Kessler. Protease inhibitors are induced by herbivore suites as a defense response in tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima). Sigma Xi Student Research Poster Session, Swarthmore College. 2014

Grants & Awards

NSF Graduate Research Fellow ($138,000)2020 - 2023

Wilhelm L. F. Martens Fund ($2,000)2020

REU Summer Research Grant ($6,000)2016

HHMI Summer Research Grant ($4,350)2015

S. Theodore Lande Research Fellowship ($4,350)2014

Workshops & Courses

Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics in Nature and the Lab, KITP2017

Publications

Link to Google Scholar

2020

Zhao, Z., Tian, D., and C. S. McBride. 2020. Development of a pan-neuronal driver in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. bioRxiv.

2019

Concha, C., Wallbank, W. R., Hanly, J., Fenner, J., Livraghi, L., Santiago, E., Paulo, D., Arias, C., Vargas, M., Sanjeev, M., Morrison, C., Tian, D., Massardo, D., Counterman, A. B., Scott, M., Jiggins, C., Papa, R., Martin, A. and W. O. McMillan. 2019. Interplay between developmental flexibility and determinism in the evolution of mimetic Heliconius wing patterns. Current Biology.

Science Journalism

2016

D. Tian. 2016. Ecosystem Engineers: Modifying our Surrounding Environments. Swarthmore Journal of Science.

2015

D. Tian. 2015. Unraveling the Links Between Ecosystems and Public Health. Swarthmore Journal of Science.

Get in touch