Fisher, Heidi

Heidi Fisher
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Program in Neuroscience & Cognitive Science
College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences
2018 Bioscience Research Building
Phone: 
301-405-2005
General Research Interests: 
  • Evolution of sexually selected traits
  • Social interactions within and between levels of biological organization
  • Molecular mechanisms of sperm recognition and adhesion
  • Evolution of sperm shape and aggregate formation
Dr. Fisher’s lab investigates the evolution of sexually selected traits, and specifically how cooperation, competition and conflict influence the selective regime. The duel nature of sperm cells, as both an extension of the diploid male that produced the gametes and as a unique haploid individual, generates an exceptional research model to study the social interactions within and between levels of biological organization (from sperm to males to populations). Work in the lab on Peromyscus rodents takes advantage of the extreme divergence in mating strategy within the genus and the wide range of natural phenotypic diversity that results.
 
One current research focus is to understand the molecular and physical mechanisms underlying a unique cooperative behavior observed in sperm of some Peromyscus species. These temporary aggregates enable the cells to migrate to the fertilization site with greater velocity compared to individual sperm; even more remarkably, in a species with intense sperm competition (P. maniculatus), sperm are able to recognize the most closely related cells and selectively group with them. This research is necessarily integrative and spans the fields of reproductive biology, evolutionary genetics and genomics, behavioral ecology and applied mathematics.
Background: 
 
Education
 
Ph.D., Boston University, 2006 (PI: Gil Rosenthal)
Postdoctoral fellow, Harvard University/Howard Hughes Medical Institute (PI: Hopi Hoekstra)