2015-06-28 15.14.46Research in the Evans lab explores genome evolution, speciation, and biodiversity.  Our recent efforts have focused on the evolution of sex chromosomes and sex determination, and the role of social systems in genome evolution, and genome duplication.

We deploy a combination of approaches including field collection of genetic material, gene editing, and bioinformatics.  We tend to explore species in their natural habitat, and recent and previous projects have focused on amphibians such as African clawed frogs (Xenopus) and fanged frogs (Limnonectes), and macaque monkeys (Macaca).  We also perform simulations to mimic genomic phenomena in the real world.

Potential students:

We are actively looking for graduate students that are interested in studying sex chromosome evolution in amphibians to start in the Fall of 2020.  We hope to better understand genetic mechanisms of sex determination in African clawed frogs (Xenopus), including what genes trigger sexual differentiation, why these genes evolve rapidly and vary among species, and how these genes influence evolution of sex chromosomes and sex-related genetic pathways. A major effort in the lab is to use gene editing to test function of putative genetic triggers for sex determination, and transgenesis to insert a known genetic trigger for sex determination from one species into other species that lack this genetic trigger. In this way, our work aims to better understand “how important things evolve”. For additional information on our research, please check out some of our recent papers:


Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in science, math, or computer science before mid-2020. Applicants with a M.Sc. degree are generally eligible for entrance into our Ph.D. program.


Financial support is provided through a combination of teaching assistantships and existing research funds from the Evans lab. Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for provincial (Ontario Graduate Scholarships) and federal funds (Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada), and encouraged to do so.  Other opportunities are available as well for international students (e.g., Vanier Award)


The Biology Department at McMaster University is a wonderful intellectual environment with strengths in Evolutionary Biology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology. We have an excellent graduate program in the Biology Department with ~100 students.  The Evans lab holds joint lab meetings with the Golding lab, and we interact extensively with several other groups (Dworkin, Dushoff, Bolker, Poinar, Wilson). Geographically, we are situated within a network of vibrant urban centres (Hamilton, Toronto) and we have easy access by foot or bike to green spaces (Cootes Paradise, Dundas Valley Conservation Area, dozens of waterfalls) and a relatively easy commute to some of Canada’s most iconic wonders (Bruce Peninsula, Niagara Falls and the Niagara Escarpment).

The Evans lab is very strongly committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.

To apply:

Interested candidates should please email Ben Evans ( Please include “Graduate Work” in the subject line, a brief description of your research interests, a description of your experience (if any) with R, python, perl, or other computer languages, bioinformatics, and/or lab work, a curriculum vitae, and names and email addresses of 2-3 references.