Harvard professor’s talk at Pitt to explore the genetic roots of parenting

Hopi HoekstraHopi Hoekstra, Harvard zoology professor and curator of mammals at the Museum of Comparative Zoology on the grounds of Harvard, will deliver discuss the “The Genetic Basics of Parental Care” for the next installment of the Laureate Lecture Series, sponsored by the senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences.

The year-long series, featuring talks from several biomedical researchers in various fields, is open to the public. Hoekstra’s talk will be at 4 p.m. Sept. 27 in Scaife Hall, Lecture Room 6.

The talk will be based on findings in a study Hoekstra and her colleagues published in April 2017, which examined the genetics behind parental care behaviors in closely related species of rodents.

Hoekstra, according to a news release, is known for studies in evolutionary science, especially as it relates to the genetics of specific behaviors. One of her notable works includes a 2013 article in Nature about the differences in burrowing behavior between two sister species of mice.

One of the species builds a complex burrow while the other builds a simple one. Hoekstra and her team were able to identify regions of DNA that determine the length of the tunnels that the mice dig, and they worked to discover specific genes that control that behavior.

Hoekstra earned her bachelor’s in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley and her doctorate in zoology from the University of Washington.

Upcoming Laureate Lecture talks include:

“Why Do Viruses Cause Cancer?”: Nov. 8 with Dr. Yaun Chang, Pitt professor of pathology, and Dr. Patrick Moore, Pitt professor of microbiology and molecular genetics.

“The Molecular Mechanism of Scanning and Start Codon Selection in Translation Initiation”: Dec. 5 with Alan Hinnebusch of the National Institutes of Health.