Dr Mary J. O'Connell


My PhD (2005) addressed the role of positive selection in molecular evolution and assessed rate heterogeneity in protein coding regions of mammals - primarily the human and mouse genomes. Following on from this I took a position as an SFI postdoctoral fellow in University College Cork working primarily on the evolution of genomic imprinting in mammals and plants from an analytical and quantitative perspective. Six Months later (2006) and following open competition, I moved to my first fully tenured academic post at Dublin City University. There I established my own independent research team and became deputy head of school in 2014.

I am a Fulbright Scholar and spent a year at the OEB in Harvard working with Scott Edwards group on comparative genomics. In 2015 I was awarded a 250 Great Minds Academic Fellowship at the University of Leeds which gave me the opportunity to focus a little more on research. Most recently I have moved to the University of Nottingham where I have been promoted to Associate Professor in Evolutionary Genomics, and I also retain a small portion of my time at the University of Leeds. 

I have continued to expand and develop my interests in both the analytical/empirical analyses of genomic data from a molecular evolutionary perspective and also in the more theoretical concepts around evolution of life on the planet. My research group (www.mol-evol.org) work on specific aspects of evolutionary genomics and we are primarily computational based with some wet bench collaborations/aspects to our work. We are currently 6 PhD students and 2 postdoctoral researchers, with 1 new PhD student starting in Sept 2018 and 2 new Postdocs to join us in late 2018 - early 2019.

Research interests

Understanding the patterns and processes of evolution, the relationship between species, and the relationship between genotype, phenotype and fitness. Please see my lab website for more details : www.mol-evol.org

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BSc (Hons) PhD

Professional memberships

  • Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution
  • International Society for Computational Biology
  • Society for the Study of Evolution
  • Society for Experimental Biology

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>