Brian Leander

Full Professor

Evolutionary morphology; marine protozoology and invertebrate zoology; molecular phylogenetics; high resolution microscopy; macroevolution; systematics.

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  • Research area
    Evolution
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  • History

    Hakai Research Affiliate (2018 - present); Tula Investigator (2006 - 2017), Center for Microbial Diversity & Evolution; Senior Fellow (2013 - 2018), Fellow (2008-2013), Scholar (2003 - 2008), Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Programs in Evolution and Integrated Microbial Biodiversity; NSF Postdoctoral Fellow (2001-2003), UBC; Ph.D. (2001), Comparative Biology, University of Georgia; M.A. & B.Sc. (1996), Zoology, Humboldt State University, California; B.Sc. (1993), Engineering Science, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Our research concentrates on the discovery and characterization of marine organismal diversity and comparative studies of novel morphological systems in predatory eukaryotes (i.e., marine invertebrate zoology & protistology). We are fundamentally interested in the diversity and evolution of organisms, particularly traits associated with feeding, locomotion and symbiotic interactions. By addressing specific hypotheses about character evolution using molecular phylogenetic methods, we study the innovations and transformations associated with broad patterns of morphological change (e.g., convergent evolution over vast phylogenetic distances). This exploratory approach is motivated by the thrill of discovery, the beautiful and the bizarre, and the yearning to build a more comprehensive framework for understanding the interrelationships of life on Earth. The marine lineages we work on tend to be drop-dead gorgeous and reflect spectacular morphological diversity, such as meiofaunal & planktonic animals, euglenozoans, dinoflagellates and apicomplexans.

Killam Teaching Prize

2014
/
For Teaching

The UBC Killam Teaching Prize recognizes all aspects of outstanding teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Each award has a value of $5000.

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To see an updated list of publications
2018
How exaptations facilitated photosensory evolution: Seeing the light by accident
BioEssays. 39: doi:10.1002/bies.201600266
Gavelis, G., Keeling P. and Leander, B.S
2017
Major transitions in dinoflagellate evolution unveiled by phylotranscriptomics
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 114:E171-E180
Janouskovec, J., Gavelis, G., Burki, F., Dinh, D., Bachvaroff, T., Gornik, S., Bright, K., Imanian, B., Strom, S., Delwiche, C., Waller, R., Fensome, R., Leander, B.S., Rohwer, F. and Saldarriaga, J
2017
Microbial arms race: Ballistic “nematocysts” in dinoflagellates represent a new extreme in organelle complexity
Science Advances 3:e1602552 (7 pages)
Gavelis, G., Wakeman, K., Tillman, U., Ripken, C., Mitarai, S., Herranz, M., Ozebek, S., Holstein, T., Keeling P. and Leander, B.S
2017
Molecular phylogeny of trigonostomine turbellarians (Platyhelminthes: Rhabdocoela: Trigonostomidae), including four new species from the Northeast Pacific Ocean Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Van Steenkiste, N. and Leander, B.S
2017
Redescription of Echinoderes ohtsukai (Yamasaki and Kajihara, 2012) and E
kozloffi (Higgins, 1977) from the northeastern Paci
Herranz, M. and Leander, B.S
2016
Eye-like ocelloids are built from different endosymbiotically acquired components
Nature. 523:204-207
Gavelis, G.S., Hayakawa, S., White III, R.A., Gojobori, T., Suttle, C.A., Keeling, P.J. and Leander, B.S
2015
Molecular contributions to species boundaries in dicyemid parasites from eastern Pacific cephalopods
Marine Biology Research. 11:414-422
Eshragh, R. and Leander, B.S
2015
Evolution of microtubule organizing centers across the tree of eukaryotes
The Plant Journal. 75:230-244. (PDF)
Yubuki, N. and Leander, B.S
2013
Holarctic phylogeography of the testate amoeba Hyalosphenia papilio (Amoebozoa: Arcellinida) reveals extensive genetic diversity explained more by environment than dispersal limitation
Molecular Ecology. 22:5172-5184
Heger, T.J., Mitchell, E.A.D. and Leander, B.S
2013