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Jeff Good featured in Research View

Making New Species

Researcher studies evolution using mice, apes and Neanderthals

Jeff Good holding a mouseJeffrey Good, the newest addition to UM’s biology department, might be one of those rare professors who becomes as animated about house mice as he does his more charismatic subjects, the great apes and the Neanderthals.

All three star in his work to understand the evolution of reproduction at the molecular level. Basically, he studies how sex has shaped the breathtaking array of species on earth, including us. Good’s findings are part of recent breakthroughs in how and when species diverge from one another. In the last year, the 33-year-old’s research has appeared in the prestigious journal Science three times and in Nature.

Good came to Montana in January from a two-year National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. There, he joined a team reconstructing the genome of Neanderthals under the direction of Svante Pääbo, one of the first scientists to study ancient DNA. Their findings splashed headlines across major newspapers in May: “Signs of Neanderthals Mating With Humans” (The New York Times) and “A Little Neanderthal May Lurk in all of Us” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).