Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Mammals in the Museum of Comparative Zoology
Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Professor of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology

Email: hoekstra@oeb.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-496-9040

Mail: MCZ Labs 206
MCZ Labs
52 Oxford St
Northwest Building
Cambridge, MA  02138

Lab Website
Members of the Hoekstra Lab


LIFESCI 1b. An Integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Genetics, Genomics, and Evolution
Catalog Number: 2159  View Course Website
Term: Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructors: Kevin Eggan, Hopi Hoekstra, Maryellen Ruvolo, Pardis Sabeti
Course Level: Primarily for Undergraduates
Description: How are observable characteristics of organisms influenced by genetics? How do genomes change over time to produce the differences we see among species? This course takes an integrated approach, showing how genetics and evolution are intimately related, together explaining the patterns of genetic variation we see in nature, and how genomics can be used to analyze variation. In covering Mendelian genetics, quantitative genetics, and population genetics, this course will emphasize developments involving our own species.
Note: This course, in combination with Life Sciences 1a, constitutes an integrated introduction to the Life Sciences. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement in Science of Living Systems or the Core area requirement for Science B.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 1-2:30, and three hours of laboratory/discussion weekly.
OEB 231. Adaptation
Catalog Number: 95671  View Course Website
Term: [Spring Term 2014-2015.]   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Hopi Hoekstra
Course Level: Primarily for Graduates
Description: This discussion-based course covers the latest advances in the study of adaptation with a focus on controversial issues and integrative approaches. The course combines readings from recent primary literature with discussion with experts via video conferencing.
Meetings: M., 2-4
OEB 370. Mammalian Evolutionary Genetics
Catalog Number: 3072  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term; Repeated Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Hopi Hoekstra
Course Level: Graduate Course
(View all MCB Courses)


Our research focuses on understanding how variation is generated and maintained in natural populations. In particular, we are interested in understanding both the proximate (i.e., molecular, genetic and developmental mechanisms) and ultimate (i.e., timing, strength and agent of selection) causes of evolutionary change. Thus, much of our research focuses on identifying and characterizing the molecular changes responsible for traits that affect fitness of organisms in the wild. To this end, we use an interdisciplinary approach combining molecular techniques (ranging from next-gen sequencing and transcriptomics to cell-based pharmacological assays and in vivo viral vectors), population-genetic tests, classical genetic crosses, lab-based behavioral assays and field-based experiments. We focus primarily on natural populations of mammals in which ecological, developmental and genomic information can be combined to address questions about the evolution of morphological, behavioral and reproductive diversity.


Manceau, M., V.S. Domingues, R. Mallarino and H.E. Hoekstra. 2011. The developmental role of Agouti in color pattern evolution. Science 331:1062-1065.

Fisher, H.S. and H.E. Hoekstra. 2010. Competition drives cooperation among closely-related sperm of deer mice. Nature 463:801-803.

Rosenblum, E.B., H. Römpler, T. Schöneberg and H.E. Hoekstra. 2010. The molecular and functional basis of phenotypic convergence in white lizards at White Sands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107:2113-2117.

Aminetzach, Y.T, J.R. Srouji, C.Y. Kong and H.E. Hoekstra. 2009. Convergent evolution of novel protein function in shrew and lizard venom. Current Biology 19:1925-1931.

Linnen, C.R., E.P. Kingsley, J.D. Jensen and H.E. Hoekstra. 2009. On the origin and spread of an adaptive allele in deer mice. Science 325:1095-1098.

Weber, J.N. and H.E. Hoekstra. 2009. The evolution of burrowing behavior in deer mice. Animal Behavior 77:603-609.

Steiner, C.C., J.N. Weber and H.E. Hoekstra. 2007. Adaptive variation in beach mice caused by two interacting pigmentation genes. PLoS Biology 5:1880-1889.

Hoekstra, H.E. and J.A. Coyne. 2007. The locus of evolution: evo devo and the genetics of adaptation. Evolution 61:995-1016.

Hoekstra, H.E., R.J. Hirschmann, R.A. Bundey, P. Insel and J.P. Crossland. 2006. A single amino acid mutation contributes to adaptive color pattern in beach mice. Science 313:101-104.

See full publications list on Hoekstra lab website.

updated: 04/15/2014