Sean Mullen

Assistant Professor, Boston University


Research in the Mullen lab is aimed at understanding the origin and maintenance of diversity at all levels of biological organization.  Within this broader context, we are particularly interested in the link between divergent natural and sexual selection of adaptive traits (e.g. - mimicry in butterflies) and the origins of barriers to gene exchange between closely-related populations (i.e. - speciation). Hybrid zones are ideal settings to address such questions because they present opportunities to study the effects of gene flow, selection, and recombination in nature and, thus, provide insights into the genetic, behavioral, and phenotypic changes that occur early in speciation.

Current research efforts in the lab are directed at characterizing the proximal genetic mechanisms underlying examples of mimetic wing pattern variation in butterflies within a comparative evolutionary framework. This work is part of an ongoing, NSF-funded, collaboration with Marcus Kronforst’s lab at Chicago, that will identify the genes responsible for color pattern mimicry across Heliconius, Limenitis, and Papilio butterflies using a combination of fine mapping, BAC contig sequencing, SNP genotyping via deep resequencing natural populations.

*NSF Dimensions:  The lab was recently awarded a new grant to examine the evolutionary mechanisms responsible for latitudinal gradients in species richness.  For more information about this award, please visit my lab news page.

Note that Inquiries from undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers interested in joining the lab to pursue independent or collaborative research are always welcome


Evolutionary Genetics,

   Population Genomics,

      Adaptation & Speciation

Contact Information:

Sean P. Mullen

Department of Biology

5 Cummington Street

Boston, MA 02215

Phone: 617.358.4589