- Associate Professor, Biology
- Hormonal control of development
- Ph.D. Insect Science, University of Arizona
- B.S. Biology, Cornell University
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.