Contributor since Fall 2018

John Swenson

PhD Student in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

John Swenson


Research area: Molecular Ecology and Population Genomics

My background is in Environmental Science (undergraduate) and Marine Biology/Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Masters). For my Masters research, I used RNA-Sequencing to describe the evolution and development of an incredible group of stingrays (Family Myliobatidae: manta rays, devil rays, cownose rays - see doi: 10.3389/fevo.2018.00181 for associated publication). The specific research subjects of my Masters research were cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus), and while collecting samples for this project, I learned that a group of these animals along the US East Coast are facing various conservation concerns, particularly from recreational fisheries and bowhunting tournaments. Despite being listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, we do not know how many cownose rays there are in the population, nor do we understand patterns of genetic connectivity. Therefore, as a PhD student, I am using advanced genomic techniques to better understand the genetic connectivity and size of this cownose ray population to help inform fisheries management and ensure their persistence.