Daohan "Rex" Jiang. Image: Dale Austin

Congratulations to EEB graduate student Daohan (Rex) Jiang who was awarded the prestigious and competitive Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship from the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School.

Jiang studies the evolution of phenotypes (physical characteristics of an individual) including molecular phenotypes like gene expression levels or RNA editing, and more complex traits like the shape of cells or organs. His advisor is Professor Jianzhi (George) Zhang.

“In particular, I am interested in contributions of different evolutionary forces — such as mutation, genetic drift and selection — to the pattern of phenotypic evolution,” Jiang said. “These questions have been extensively studied at the level of DNA sequences, but yet remains much less explored for phenotypic traits. 

“I test hypotheses regarding the role of different forces in phenotypic evolution by analyzing large-scale phenotypic datasets as well as modeling. So far, I have worked on multiple types of traits in diverse taxa, shedding light on the importance of non-adaptive processes in shaping patterns of phenotypic variation. Next, I would like to investigate how interaction between different phenotypic traits has shaped the pattern of their evolution.”

The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowships support outstanding doctoral students who have achieved candidacy and are actively working on dissertation research and writing in support of students working on dissertations that are unusually creative, ambitious and impactful. The fellowship provides three terms of support including a stipend of over $33,000, candidacy tuition and required fees for 12 months and GradCare health and dental insurance during the fellowship period.

Compiled by Gail Kuhnlein