People

Matthew W. Mitchell

Postdoctoral FellowDrexel University, Department of Biology

Senior Research FellowUCLA Center for Tropical Research

Drexel University
Department of Biology

3245 Chestnut St.
PISB, Rm. 503
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests

I am an evolutionary biologist and primatologist who is focused on chimpanzee population genomics, socio-ecology and conservation. My research is based in central Africa, primarily in Cameroon and Gabon, and is focused on understanding spatial patterns of chimpanzee genetic diversity and their relevant associations with environmental variation. I am also involved in wildlife conservation, especially in central Africa, including education and policy development.

The chimpanzee is a flagship conservation species. Across the chimpanzee’s entire distribution, the county of Cameroon is exceptional because two of the four recognized chimpanzee subspecies are found there: Pan troglodytes troglodytes and P. t. ellioti. Genetic data from recent studies have shown that these subspecies are significantly different from each other and separated roughly 200-350 thousand years ago. The ranges of P. t. ellioti and P. t. troglodytes also presumably converge at the Sanaga River in central Cameroon, but this separation persists despite ongoing gene flow, and may also be governed by regional variation in habitat.

The location of this research in Cameroon, and now Gabon, constitutes a ‘natural laboratory’ for studying factors that create and maintain the genetic structure of chimpanzees. The mechanisms of that drive speciation in tropical taxa are varied, and still not well understood especially for primates. I am able to utilize numerous available resources for chimpanzees, including a comprehensive collection of geo-referenced DNA samples, a library of microsatellite markers, and genome sequences of 10 chimpanzees from this region, which will inform SNP selection.

I am also a member of the Central African Biodiversity Alliance (CABAlliance). The CABAlliance is an international partnership that seeks to develop an integrated framework for conserving central African biodiversity under climate change that is both evolutionary-informed and grounded in the socioeconomic constraints of the region.

Education

University at Albany – State University of New York, Albany, NY
Ph.D., Biology, 2014

University at Albany – State University of New York, Albany, NY
Graduate Certificate, GIS and Spatial Analysis, 2013

Colby College, Waterville, ME
B.A., Biology, 2006
B.A., Music, 2006

Publications

M.W. Mitchell and M.K. Gonder (2014). “Genetic Differences Between Chimpanzee Populations.” In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester. LINK

M.W. Mitchell , B.P. Rowe, P.R. Sesink Clee and M.K. Gonder. (2013) “TESS Ad-Mixer: A novel program for visualizing TESS Q matrices.”Conservation Genetics Resources, 5(4): 1075-1078. LINK.

M.W. Mitchell and M.K. Gonder. (2013) “Primate speciation: A case study of African apes.” Nature Education Knowledge, 4(2): 1. LINK.

M.K. Gonder, S. Locatelli, L. Ghobrial, M.W. Mitchell, J.T. Kujawski, F. Lankester C.B. Stewart and S.A. Tishkoff. (2011) “Evidence from Cameroon reveals differences in the genetic structure and history of chimpanzee populations.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,108(12): 4766-4771, Featured Cover Article. LINK.

P.B. Kang, H.G.W. Lidov, A.J. White, M.W. Mitchell, A. Balasubramanian, E. Estrella, R.R. Bennett, B.T. Darras, F.D. Shapiro, B.J. Bambach, J. Kurtzberg, E. Gussoni, and L.M. Kunkel. (2010) “Inefficient dystrophin expression after cord blood transplantation in DMD.” Muscle and Nerve, 41(6): 746-750.

R.L. Sohn, P. Huang, G. Kawahara, M.W. Mitchell, J. Guyon, R. Kalluri, L.M. Kunkel, and E. Gussoni. (2009) “A role for nephrin, a renal protein, in vertebrate skeletal muscle cell fusion.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(23): 9274-9279.

Photo Gallery

Cameroon highlands, habitat of P. t. ellioti. (Photo courtesy of Katy Gonder)

Cameroon highlands, habitat of P. t. ellioti. (Photo courtesy of Katy Gonder)

Ngambe, a juvenile P. t. ellioti chimpanzee rescued from central Cameroon, at the Limbe Wildlife Center.

Ngambe, a juvenile P. t. ellioti chimpanzee rescued from central Cameroon, at the Limbe Wildlife Center. (Photo courtesy of Paul Sesink Clee)


CTR Bird

Center for Tropical Research | UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
La Kretz Hall, Suite 300 | 619 Charles E. Young Dr. East | Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

The Center for Tropical Research, located on the third floor of La Kretz Hall, is part of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. For general inquiries, contact Christa Gomez, CTR Office Manager, at 310-206-6234, or by email at cgomez@lifesci.ucla.edu. Visitors are always welcome.

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