College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology
Alex Aitken Contact Information

Alex Aitken 

Graduate Program: M.S. Thesis

Major Professor: Dr. Duane McKenna

Research Interest

Alex Aitken is a Master candidate pursuing a Masters degree in the Biological Sciences at the University of Memphis in the lab of Dr. Duane McKenna. He received his B.S. at the University of Memphis in 2011 where he had the privilege of doing undergraduate research (i.e. DNA extraction, PCR, DNA sequencing and editing of sequence data) on a number of incredible groups of taxa (i.e. Chrysomelidae- leaf and tortoise beetles with ~35,000 species;  Bostrichidae-auger beetles with ~700 species). His experiences as an undergraduate researcher propelled him to pursue an advanced degree. His research interests have become increasingly fascinated in understanding the diversity of life and evolution with a focus primarily on beetles. With insects making up over 20% of all living things on Earth, insects tend to be a natural outlet for fueling his passion for understanding the unknown. His other research interest includes being able to get outdoors and enjoy the natural environment, which by the nature of collecting insects also provides this opportunity.

He is currently in the process of using a potentially revolutionary technique that could bridge the gap between the traditional DNA capture methods (Sanger's method) and next generation sequencing of entire genomes. This process has been entitled anchored enrichment or phylogenomics (Lemmon et al. 2012). It is with this approach that he and outside collaborators are looking to provide strong nodal support for a phylogenetic tree for the superfamily of weevils Curculionoidea (>61,800 described species in ~5,800 genera) with a focus on the major subfamilies within the family Curculionidae (>51,000 extant species in ~4,600 genera).






Office Location: Ellington Hall 322

Spring 2015 Office Hours

Tuesday - 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Thursday - 12:00pm - 1:00pm

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Last Updated: 1/22/15