Dr. Wexler’s doctorate in Population Biology is from the University of California, Davis. For the paper which contained the majority of her thesis work, she led an international team that included members of four different research groups on three different campuses. Their expertise ranged from evolutionary genetics to cockroach behavior to oligosaccharide chemistry.
In the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at Hebrew University, Dr. Wexler will be investigating the most successful animals on land — holometabolous insects. They have three distinct life-history stages — larval, pupal, and adult. For hundreds of years, natural historians have wondered how holometabolous insects evolved from ancestors with simpler life cycles. Using gene expression data to establish homology between the different life-history stages of holometabolous insects on the one hand, and the other two classes, ametabolous and hemimetabolous, on the other, Dr. Wexler hopes to shed light on one of the most spectacular examples of an animal evolving into a wide variety of types.
Dr. Wexler plans to use RNA sequencing technologies to integrate gene expression data from multiple tissues and time points in species across the insect tree of life. This will help to probe the origins of the dramatic morphological changes observed in these insects.