Christian Gagnon

Department of Anthropology Hunter College City University of New York

me.jpg

Present

I am a masters student in the Anthropology Department at the City University of New York's Hunter College. My research interests include; bioinformatics, molecular ecology, comparative genomics, nutrigenomics and behavior genetics. My research uses bioinformatic tools along with various laboratory techniques to explore a number of evolutionary questions. I have done fieldwork in Uganda at both Kibale National Park and Semliki Wildlife Reserve, where I am studying the regulation mechanisms of genes associated with dietary adaptations in Papio anubis populations living in vastly different habitats. The purpose of this research is to explore the ways in which climate and the environment drive the evolution of nutritional adaptations. In the first step for this ongoing project, I am conducting a phylogenetic analysis of the amylase gene cluster in Catarrhines for my master's thesis. My mentors are Professor Michael Steiper, founder of the Anthropological Genetics Lab and the Inaugural Director of the Human Biology Program at Hunter College, Professor Jessica Rothman, director of the Nutritional Ecology lab at Hunter College and Professor Andrea Baden, head of the Molecular Ecology lab at Hunter College. I also act as an adjunct professor teaching undergraduate introductory course in human evolution at Hunter College. My goal after completing the Master's program at Hunter is to become a PhD candidate where I can work with like minded academics so that I may continue to build on the foundation I have obtained during my time in New York and Uganda. I then hope to follow in the footsteps of my mentors by joining the world of academia and research as a professor where I can continue to contribute to our collective knowledge about evolution. 

Past

Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, I grew up in Tampa, Florida, and started my college career as a computer engineering major at the University of South Florida from 2001 to 2002. In 2009 decided to pursue an opportunity to become a firefighter and emergency medical technician. I later returned to school to obtain a degree in emergency preparedness technology. I continued my education as a pre-med student to further my career in emergency medicine. After a two year stint at Forsyth Community College I was admitted to CUNY Hunter College  where I was exposed to Biological Anthropology in a course taught by Dr. Michael Steiper. Soon after, I was recommended for an undergraduate research fellowship working in the Hunter Anthropological Genetics Lab. I worked alongside Dr. Steiper on a project exploring the selective pressures at work on a number of genes using various bioinformatic tools. Shortly after, I attended a field course in Uganda taught by Dr. Jessica Rothman. This experience solidified my desire and ability to pursue a career in biological anthropology. I excelled as a anthropology major accruing a 3.7 GPA in my discipline. I knew that after graduation I would want to remain at Hunter College to continue to learn from my mentors so I applied to the master's program in anthropology. The summer after graduation I was offered a conservation education fellowship with the Wildlife Conservation Society where received training in science education. During my time with WCS I participated and led educational programs teaching young people of different age groups ranging from kindergarden to high school about natural sciences and the importance of maintaining biodiversity. 

UPCOMING PUBLICATIONS:

  • Body Mass Index varies with event distances among elite runners but not swimmers. CM Gagnon, ME Steiper, H Pontzer. (In Review)

  • Evidence for elevated diversity in genes linked to facial diversity in apes supports the hypothesis that individual facial recognition is important across hominoids. ME Steiper, NT Grube, CM Gagnon. (In Prep)