Michael Nachman

Research Expertise and Interest

population genetics, evolution, genomics, mammalian evolution

Research Description

Michael Nachman is a professor of Integrative Biology and Director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.  He and the members of his lab study population, evolutionary, and ecological genetics and genomics. We are broadly interested in the genetic basis of evolutionary change, including the genetics of adaptation and the genetic basis of speciation. Most of our work is on mammals with a particular emphasis on humans and mice.  Major current projects include: (1) environmental adaptation in introduced populations of house mice across the Americas, (2) the genetic basis of reproductive isolation between closely related lineages, and (3) the genetic basis of color variation in desert rodents.  We use a variety of approaches including field work, controlled crosses in the laboratory, genomic tools, molecular biological approaches, and computational analysis of large datasets.


In the News

Eastern and Western house mice took parallel evolutionary paths

The European house mouse has invaded nearly every corner of the Americas since it was introduced by colonizers a few hundred years ago, and now lives practically everywhere humans store their food. Yet in that relatively short time span — 400 to 600 mouse generations — populations on the East and West Coasts have changed their body size and nest building behavior in nearly identical ways to adapt to similar environmental conditions, according to a new study by biologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

Human faces are so variable because we evolved to look unique

Why are human faces so variable compared to other animals? Berkeley biologists Michael Nachman & Michael Sheehan analyzed human faces and the genes that code for them and found a variability that could only be explained by selection for uniqueness, probably because of the importance of social interactions in human relationships and the need for all of us to be recognizable.

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