Alison Cloutier

Alison Cloutier

Postdoctoral Fellow
Alison Cloutier


Before coming to Harvard in 2015, I did a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Allan J. Baker at the University of Toronto/Royal Ontario Museum.  I received my PhD from the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto in 2012. I received my Master's Degree in 2001 from the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, Canada. For my BScH I was a joint major in Biology and Environmental & Resource Science at Trent University in Peterborough ON, Canada.

Research Interests

Broadly defined, my current research activities span the fields of molecular ecology and phylogenomics in birds.  For my PhD, I characterized the genomic context and sequence evolution of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in the red-billed gull (Larus scopulinus), and investigated the role played by individual MHC class I variation in mate choice decisions and reproductive success within this long-lived monogamous species.  As a postdoc in the Edwards lab, my taxonomic focus has shifted to the palaeognaths, which includes the flightless ratites (ostrich, emu, cassowary, rhea, and kiwi) in addition to the volant tinamous.  I am using genome-scale data to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of this group with both sequence-based approaches and presence/absence characters such as retroelement insertions, in addition to pursuing my fascination with MHC gene family evolution within this avian lineage.



Baker AJ, Haddrath O, McPherson JD, Cloutier A 2014. Genomic support for a moa–tinamou clade and adaptive morphological convergence in flightless ratites. Molecular Biology and Evolution 31(7): 1686–1696.

Kerr KCR, Cloutier A, Baker AJ 2014. One hundred new universal exonic markers for birds developed from a genomic pipeline. Journal of Ornithology 155(2): 561–569.

Cloutier A, Mills JA, Yarrall JW, Baker AJ 2011. Plasmodium infections of red-billed gulls (Larus scopulinus) show associations with host condition but not reproductive performance. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 41(4): 261–277.

Cloutier A, Mills JA, Baker AJ 2011. Characterization and locus-specific typing of MHC class I genes in the red-billed gull (Larus scopulinus) provides evidence for major, minor, and nonclassical loci. Immunogenetics 63(6): 377–394.

Kelleher CT, Chiu R, Shin H et al. 2007. A physical map of the highly heterozygous Populus genome: integration with the genome sequence and genetic map and analysis of haplotypic variation. Plant Journal 50(6): 1063–1078.

Krzywinski M, Bosdet I, Smailus D, et al. 2004. A set of BAC clones spanning the human genome. Nucleic Acids Research 32(12): 3651–3660.

Krzywinski M, Wallis J, Gosele C, et al. 2004. Integrated and sequence-ordered BAC- and YAC-based physical maps for the rat genome. Genome Research 14(4): 766–779.

Nebel SA, Cloutier A, Thompson GJ 2004. Molecular sexing of prey remains permits a test of sex-biased predation in a wintering population of western sandpipers. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 271(Suppl. 5): S321–S323.

Marra MA, Jones SJM, Astell CR, et al. 2003. The genome sequence of the SARS-associated coronavirus. Science 300(5624): 1399–1404.


Contact Information

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology & Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: 617-496-8387

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