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Sarah (Sally) Otto

Full Professor, Zoology and Biodiversity Research Centre; Director, Liber Ero Fellowship Program

Office phone: 604-822-2778
Web page: Home page
Research area: Evolution
Lab Members: F. De Haas, E. Kleynhans, A. MacPherson, M. Osmond, L. Sandell, S. Watt, S. Zareyan
History: B.Sc. Stanford 1988; Ph.D. Stanford 1992

Understanding how evolution has led to the remarkable diversity of life is the key motivating force behind my research. Mathematical models allow us to determine which evolutionary transitions are plausible, which are probable, and which are impossible. In particular, we have been using models to investigate the evolution of:
  • Genomic architectures - How do recombination rates/mutation rates evolve? How do chromosomes evolve?
  • Ploidy levels - When are haploid or diploid life cycles favored by evolution?
  • Mating systems - How does the mode of reproduction evolve?
In addition to mathematical modeling, my research group carries out experimental evolution with yeast and plants, as well as comparative data analysis, resulting in over 170 publications and a book. Current work focuses on the extent to which organisms can adapt to a changing world, and why they fail to do so.

I am also Director of the Liber Ero Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program (please see liberero.ca).



University Killam Professorship

For Research

A University Killam Professorship is the highest honour UBC can confer on a faculty member and recognizes exceptional teachers and researchers who are leaders in their fields. Read more »


MacArthur Fellowship

For Research

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work Read more »


Guggenheim Fellowship in Natural Sciences

For Research

Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability. Read more »


Steacie Prize

For Research


Elected Fellow, Royal Society of Canada

Last updated 21 April 2018