About Me

I'm an evolutionary biologist, passionate about building theoretical models and applying them empirically to understand the evolution and structuring of population diversities in spacetime. Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Mercedes Pascual at the University of Chicago. I did my Ph.D. with Prof. L. Lacey Knowles at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Starting from Jan. 2021, I will be an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology, Purdue University. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in joining my group.


Genetic Similarity Networks Reveal Strain Structure in Malaria:

In the malaria parasite, its major blood-stage antigen, var genes, have 50-60 variants per parasite genome, and more than 10,000 variants in West Africa. How do pathogens evade immune responses through "smart strategies" of organizing the diversity of var genes within the genome and across the population? We present theory to identify signatures of immune selection using networks of genetic similarity that reveal non-neutral structures of var gene strains in an extensively sampled population in Bongo District (BD), Ghana. 


It is now published in Nature Communications. Check out this blog for "Behind the Paper" story~

X-Origin pipeline: Inferring Geographic Origin of Expansion

Climatic or environmental change is not only driving distributional shifts in species today, but it has also caused distributions to expand and contract in the past. Inferences about the geographic locations of past populations, especially regions that served as refugia (i.e., source populations) and migratory routes are a challenging endeavor. Here we present a pipeline we developed (called X-Origin) for statistically inferring the geographic origin of range expansion based on Ψ-statistics, a spatially explicit coalescent model, and an Approximate Bayesian Computation testing framework.

View Article at Molecular Ecology.

Check out the pipeline and tutorial.


Department of Biology

Purdue University


Email: heqixin(at)purdue(dot)edu

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