Sarah (Sally) Otto

Full Professor

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, as well as comparative data analyses, resulting in over 180 publications and a book.

Current work increasingly focuses on the extent to which organisms can adapt to a changing world and why they might fail to do so.

I serve as co-liaison of the Species at Risk Advisory Committee for Canada and am Director of the Liber Ero Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program, which supports exceptional post-doctoral researchers doing research on pressing conservation issues for Canada.

University Killam Professorship

2016
/
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.

Fellow

2016
/
For Research

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, USA

Weldon Prize

2016
/
For Research

Oxford University

Sewall Wright Award

2015
/
For Research

 American Society of Naturalists

MacArthur Fellowship

2011
/
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

Guggenheim Fellowship in Natural Sciences

2011
/
For Research

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

Steacie Prize

2007
/
For Research

Fellow

2006
/
For Research

Royal Society of Canada

Steacie Fellowship

2001

Natural Sciences and Research Council; Canada (2001-2003)

Conservation Champion Award

/
For Research

The Nature Trust of BC