At Darwin’s Dogs we are following the pawprints of canine evolution in studying how the dog genome has changed between ancient wolves and our beloved companions and work partners or today. If we learn how genetics shapes behavior we will have new insight into psychiatric and neurological diseases in dogs and people.
We have already brought together experts in dog genetics and behavior, but we need your help too. There is no cost to participate, and any dog can join. We will ask about your dog’s behavior and personality using short questionnaires on our website. We’ll then mail you a kit to get a saliva sample to return to us.
Using saliva samples and behavioral data from many dogs, we can find differences in DNA connected to particular personality traits or behaviors. We'll analyze the results and let you know what we find.
Elinor K. Karlsson has contributed to numerous studies shaping our understanding of the genetics of diseases and behavioral disorders in dogs and humans. Elinor designed and launched the Darwin's Dogs project based on the realization that there are thousands of dogs living in homes with people who know all about their behavior. Combining her expertise in genomics with this detailed information on the behavior of large numbers of dogs could revolutionize our understanding of canine genetics.
Jesse McClure has a diverse background in animal behavior including experience as a military working dog handler, pet trainer, and a PhD in neuroscience & behavior. He has also long tinkered with computers and software development which makes him well suited to handle a majority of the day-to-day operations of the Darwin's Dogs project. Jesse created and manages our websites, assembles the surveys, analyzes the data, and responds to your emails.
Brittney Logan has a strong knowledge of animal behavior starting with a BS in animal behavior. Her previous work with service dogs has allowed her to also gain hands-on experience with advanced training methods. Helping people to live better lives with their four legged friends is a goal of hers. Brittney manages social media for the Darwin’s Dogs project, helping to answer and facilitate conversations on the main webpage, as well as assisting with research.
Michele Koltookian is coming to us from the Broad Institute where she has 10 years experience working on many dog disease projects from cancers, dropped ear, hairlessness in Chinese Crested, and FSF in Shar Pei's. Michele will be helping to answer questions and facilitate questions from the darwins dogs websites as well as helping to support many of the projects across the merging of Darwin's dogs and the Broad Institute.
Kathryn Lord is interested in how changes in developmental timing act as a mechanism for the evolution of adaptive behaviors in animals. She started working with dogs in an attempt to improve rearing practices for service dogs as an undergraduate and expanded her interests to the evolution and development of behavior using dogs and wolves as a model for her PhD in organismic and evolutionary biology. At Darwin’s Dogs Kathryn will be helping with the behavioral aspects of the project and investigations of the critical period of socialization in dog pups.
Diane P. Genereux is interested in how animals receive and store information about their environments. Since earning a PhD in biology, Diane has worked on the genetics, epigenetics, and molecular biology of developmental disorders of the human nervous system. Here at Darwin's Dogs, Diane's focus is on understanding the timing and features of the critical period of socialization, during which puppies readily form social bonds with humans.
Linda Boettger is interested in using dogs as a model to better understand and improve both animal and human health. She has an M.Phil in Computational Biology and a Ph.D. in Genetics. Linda loves mammalian genomics and has previously studied mice, chimpanzees, humans, and foxes. At Darwin’s Dogs, Linda analyzes genetic data to determine the breed ancestry of mixed-breed dogs.
Marjie Alonso, CDBC, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, is the Executive Director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). The IAABC is providing behavior input and expertise to the Darwin’s Dogs project. The organization is a strong proponent of wide-based understanding and exploration of animal behavior, and of varied disciplines working together in furtherance of understanding and learning.