Claire T. O'Quin

Graduate Student, Department of Biology

MS Biological Sciences, The George Washington University, 2010

BS Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, 2006

Full CV here




My ultimate research interest is to understand the connections between genotype and phenotype. The cichlids of Lake Malawi are an excellent model in which to study this connection due the presence of hundreds of closely related species. This allows us to create viable hybrids in the lab in which to study the underlying genetic architecture of traits.


Studying pigmentation allows me to combine my interests of studying evolution, development, and genetics. My research focuses on studying the underlying genetic architecture of male pigmentation traits in two closely related species of cichlids, Metriaclima zebra and Metriclima mbenjii. Male Metriaclima zebra are characterized by a blue body with black bars, a dark interorbital bar, dark coloration on the cheeks, and blue fins. In contrast, a plain blue body and orange fins characterize male Metriaclima mbenjii. F1 males from a hybrid cross between a male Metriaclima mbenjii and female Metriaclima zebra possess a blue body with faded bars, a dark interorbital bar, and fins that grade from blue to yellow. F2 males display a range of phenotypes.

Presently, I’m using phenotypic assays I’ve developed to quantify these pigmentation traits so that I can estimate the number of genes underlying the male pigmentation traits. Eventually, I will perform a QTL analysis to determine regions of the genome associated with these pigmentation traits.

Personal Interests

When I’m not in the lab or teaching, I love spending time in the great outdoors. I’m an avid fan of our National Park System and love to hike and camp whenever possible. I also spend time on the weekends in the fall and spring playing soccer.

Me in Yellowstone National Park, Wyomingzebra male


Claire O'Quin

Metriaclima zebra malezebra male

Metriaclima mbenjii male mbenjii male

F1 hybrid male hybrid male

Above images by Claire O'Quin