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Noor has a BS from the College of William and Mary (1992) and a PhD from University of Chicago (1996), together with a postdoctoral residency at Cornell University (1996–1998). He specializes in Drosophila evolution. His team's research approaches have included both classical genetic mapping, as well as analyses of whole genome sequences.
Likewise, Noor was one of the first scientists to demonstrate by experiment speciation by "reinforcement", that is, as a result of natural selection mating preferences diverge against deleterious hybridization and reduce gene flow between species. He is also known for developing (along with others) a model wherein regions of restricted recombination, as by chromosomal inversions, facilitate the persistence of hybridizing species.
More recently, his research team has focused on understanding variation in recombination rate within and between species, and its impact on DNA sequence variation.
In 2008 he was awarded the Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean Society of London.
He was editor for the international journal Evolution, is or was associate editor for several other journals, and the author of over 100 publications. He has served as president of the American Genetic Association and Society for the Study of Evolution and as a board member for the Genetics Society of America.
Noor has been active in education and outreach, receiving numerous teaching and mentoring awards from his institution, and more recently teaching an online course in genetics and evolution. He and his group have also developed laboratory activities for implementation in high schools and colleges, including a commercial kit for observing natural selection in Drosophila.
- McGaugh, S. E., C. S. S. Heil, B. Manzano-Winkler, L. Loewe, S. Goldstein, T. L. Himmel, M. A. F. Noor. 2012. Recombination modulates how selection affects linked sites in Drosophila. PLoS Biology, 10: e1001423. abs.
- Smukowski, C. S., and M. A. F. Noor. 2011. Recombination rate variation in closely related species. Heredity, 107: 496-508. abs.