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Jenny Tung, Associate Professor of Biology, Duke University
The goal of our work is to link fitness-related behavior, life history, and environmental variation with outcomes that are relevant on an evolutionary timescale, using tools from genomics and social mammals as our focal system. Here, I will discuss our work on the molecular mechanisms that connect social relationships—which are among the most robust predictors of Darwinian fitness in social mammals—to downstream outcomes for immune function and aging. I will also discuss our emerging understanding of the causes and consequences of hybridization in wild baboons, focusing on an intensively studied natural population in the Amboseli ecosystem of Kenya. Both areas of our work emphasize the value of genomic data for revealing patterns that cannot be captured using phenotypic analyses alone. At the same time, they stress the importance of interpreting genomic information through an organismal lens.