Sarah Otto

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Sarah (Sally) Otto is a theoretical biologist, author, and the director of the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia. She was named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow.[1] In 2015 the American Society of Naturalists gave her the Sewall Wright Award for fundamental contributions to the unification of biology.


Otto received her B.Sc. in 1988 and her Ph.D. in 1992 from Stanford University. She did post-doctoral research with Nick Barton at the University of Edinburgh.

Research Focus[edit]

Otto's research focus is on population-genetic modeling to understand how evolutionary processes generate diverse biological features.[2] According to Otto, her research uses "mathematical models to clarify how features of an organism affect its potential for and rate of adaptation. I also step back to address why such features vary in the first place. Why is it that some species produce offspring primarily by cloning themselves, whereas others never do? Why do some species have large genomes with many chromosomes, while others are streamlined?”[3] Otto's recent work has investigated the genomic changes that underlie adaptation by yeast to harsh environmental conditions.[4]


  • A Biologist's Guide to Mathematical Modeling in Ecology and Evolution, Sarah P. Otto & Troy Day, 2007, 752 pages, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-12344-8


  1. ^ "MacArthur Fellows Program: Meet the 2011 Fellows". September 20, 2011. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Sarah P. Otto". Retrieved 2016-09-21. 
  3. ^ "Council of Canadian Academies | CCA | Fellow in Focus: Sarah P. Otto, FRSC". Retrieved 2016-09-21. 
  4. ^ "Sarah Otto — MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved 2016-09-21. 

External links[edit]