Whitehead, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, is a comparative genome biologist and molecular ecotoxicologist. He completed his Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, and joined CA&ES in 2012 from the faculty of Louisiana State University.
Fish and aquatic ecosystems, pollutants, environmental, ecological, and evolutionary genomics, population genomics, conservation genetics, stress physiology, and ecotoxicology.
We want to understand how genomes (the complete set of genes in an organism) evolve and adapt to changing environmental conditions such as temperature, salinity, pollutants. We also want to know what genetic differences facilitate the resilience of some organisms to environmental stress. We use minnows called killifish as our model organism and are examining their rapid evolution to survive in highly polluted areas. One application of our research is to diagnose the impacts of environmental pollutants such as contaminating oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill on local aquatic life.
- Killifish genomics
- Ecotoxicogenomics of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
- Comparative genomics of osmotic stress tolerance
- Genomics of adaptation to polluted environments