430 Clinical Research Building | 415 Curie Blvd. | University of Pennsylvania | Philadelphia PA 19104-6145

Felicia Gomez

Graduate Student

2114 G. Street NW
Washington, DC 20052


Research Interests


Research Experience

Professional Experience

Teaching Experience

Publications, Posters, and Invited Talks


2004 - Present: Doctoral student, Human Evolutionary Biology Doctoral Program, The George Washington University,  Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sarah Tishkoff - University of Pennsylvania 

2004: Graduate Teaching Assistant Certification, The George Washington University

2002: B.A., Magna Cum Laude, Skidmore College, Biology and Anthropology

Research Interests

I am interested in human evolution, adaptation, and genetic variation. More specifically, I am interested in understanding how malaria, and infectious disease in general, has played a role in shaping patterns of human genetic variation through natural selection. To this end, my dissertation research will look at genetic variation at genes that are thought to play a role in malaria resistance. We will characterize nucleotide variation and screen for signatures of natural selection at these genes to better understand the evolutionary history of genes that play a role in malarial resistance and to identify functionally significant variants. 

Academic Awards & Funding

  • Burroughs Wellcome Ecology and Evolution Travel Scholarship, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD (2007)

  • Ford Foundation Predoctoral Diversity Fellowship. The National Research Council of the National Academies, Washington DC. (2007-2010)

  • Sigma Xi Student Research Grant. The George Washington University Chapter of Sigma Xi, The George Washington University, Washington, DC (2007)

  • Student Poster Honorable Mention Award. The American Institute of Biological Sciences, Washington, DC (2007)

  • NSF IGERT Predoctoral Traineeship. The George Washington University, Washington, DC (2004 - present)

  • University Fellowship & Graduate Teaching Assistantship.  The George Washington University, Washington, DC (2004)

  • Phi Beta Kappa - Phi of New York Chapter.  Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2002)

  • Periclean Honors Society.  Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2000 - 2002)

  • Departmental Honors in Biology.  Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2002)

Research Experience:

Laboratory Rotation, The Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto – Porto, Portugal. During the summer of 2007, I completed a laboratory rotation under the supervision of Dr. Jorge Rocha.  During this laboratory rotation I worked with Dr. Rocha on research design for our collaboration.  Dr. Rocha also spent several days discussing with me various methodologies in population genetics. 7/07

Laboratory Rotation, The University of Maryland – College Park, MD. During the summer of 2006, I completed a laboratory rotation under the supervision of Dr. Sarah Tishkoff.  I took part in a study that seeks to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the gene that codes for ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule –1).  This gene is one of several candidate genes that is thought to play a role in malarial resistance.  I am currently extending this project as part of my Ph.D. thesis work in Dr. Tishkoff’s lab.  6/06-8/06

Student Assistant, The George Washington University – Washington, DC & The National Museums of Kenya – Nairobi, Kenya.  During the summer of 2005, I assisted Dr. Alison Brooks with the organization of The Middle Stone Age of East Africa and Modern Human Origins Conference.  While in Washington DC I, along with two other students, collected reference material and wrote archaeological site reports about Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites in East and South Africa for the conference publication.  While in Nairobi, I created representative exhibits of MSA artifacts from archaeological sites East Africa.  I also helped to facilitate the day-to-day functioning of the conference.  7/05 – 8/05

Field School Student, University of New Mexico Field School (UNMFS) - Kampsville IL.  I participated in UNMFS human osteology field program.  The osetology program consisted of daily human osteology lectures, weekly lab assignments (i.e. sexing and aging exercises), and bone quizzes.  I analyzed the remains of an individual and completed a report detailing age, sex, and stature estimations.  The report also included a pathology report and a skeletal inventory.  6/02-8/02

Senior Thesis, Skidmore College Anthropology Department - Saratoga Springs, NY.  My senior thesis reviewed current models of modern human evolution.  I examined the current fossil and genetic data used to discuss modern human origins.  9/01-5/02

Research Student, Skidmore College Biology Department - Saratoga Springs, NY.  I worked with Dr. Bernard Possidente whose research focuses on the genetics of circadian rhythms.  We used eight inbred strains of mice to observe biological clock variation between the inbred strains.  We completed statistical analyses to determine the level of heritability for each variable used to describe biological clock variation. We also examined the potential for artificial selection within the eight inbred strains.  We completed a poster presentation of our findings to the Skidmore College community.  My advisor presented our initial findings at the 31st Annual Behavior Genetics Association meeting and is currently preparing a manuscript for submission to Behavior Genetics.  1/00–5/02

Research Student, Skidmore College Educational Leadership Program (ELC) - Saratoga Springs, NY.  I applied and was accepted to a program designed to initiate students of color into academia.  I completed a research project on the archaeological and faunal evidence of slave subsistence.  I presented my findings to my colleagues and their advisors.  I also led a small evolution lab seminar on creating phylogenies using genetic sequence data.  9/01 -5/02

Research Student, University of South Carolina (USC) - Columbia, South Carolina- I participated in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program (REU).  As an REU student I worked in Dr. Bert Ely’s laboratory on a project looking for a genetic connection between the males of the Gullah community in South Carolina and present day West African males.  We used PCR assays for Y-chromosome DNA markers to test the proposed connection.  I presented my results to the USC Biology Department.  6/01-8/01

Professional Experience:

Intern, The American Anthropological Association (AAA) – Arlington, VA To fulfill the requirements for our Public Understanding of Science internship, I worked with Dr. Mary Margaret Overbey, of the AAA, on an NSF and Ford Foundation funded project called RACE.  The RACE project is collaborative effort between a number of scholars from diverse fields of study, to develop an interactive science museum exhibit, website, and educational materials that deal with the idea of race, and racism in the United States.  The project will promote a broad understanding of race and human variation that explains how human biological variation differs from race, where the idea of race originated, and how race and racism affect everyday life.   While working on this project I assisted with research and organization, and during the summer of 2006 I drafted a family guide that provides advice for parents and caregivers who would like to engage their children in family discussions about race.  1/06 –  8/06

Senior Laboratory Technician, New York State (NYS) Department of Health - Albany, NY  I worked in a Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) laboratory housed in the bacteriology department of the NYS Dept of Health.  I was principally responsible for the generation of data and initial analysis of PFGE DNA patterns.  Through a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control our laboratory identified PFGE patterns to track food borne illness.  Our lab is part of a national PFGE community responsible for monitoring food borne illness. 1/03 – 7/04

Lab Assistant, Skidmore College Biology Department- Saratoga Springs NY.  I completed weekly PCR and gel electrophoresis assays.  I also assisted beginning research students and maintained a field study site during the early fall.  9/01 - 5/02

Lab Assistant, Skidmore College Anthropology Department - Saratoga Springs, NY.  I identified, catalogued, and re-bagged various artifacts in Skidmore’s archaeological collections.  I also maintained and organized the archaeology lab.  9/00 –5/02

Intern, The Nature ConservancyWilton, NY I completed daily monitoring and population counts of 43 Karner Blue Butterfly habitats.  I also compiled an extensive report detailing data collected, habitat information, management suggestions, and photo documentation.  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation used my data for state records and funding initiatives.  5/00 -8/00 

Teaching Experience

Teaching Assistant, Biological Anthropology, The George Washington University Anthropology DepartmentWashington, DC.  I taught two undergraduate biological anthropology laboratory sections.  I was responsible for grading laboratory assignments, term research papers, and assisting undergraduate students during office hours.  I also assisted in grading class examinations.  8/06 – 12/06; 8/04 – 5/05

Publications, Poster Presentations and Invited Talks


Gomez, Felicia, I., Gil Tomas, Floyd A. Reed, Jorge Rocha, and Sarah A. Tishkoff, Patterns Nucleotide Diversity and Potential Signatures of Natural Selection at Intercellular Adhesion Molecule–1 in Global Human Populations. Talk given at NIGMS/NSF Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease PI Meeting. December 2-5, 2007

Gomez, Felicia, I., Gil Tomas, Floyd A. Reed, Sarah A. Tishkoff, and Jorge Rocha. Patterns Nucleotide Diversity and Potential Signatures of Natural Selection in Intercellular Adhesion Molecule–1. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. October 23-28, 2007

Gomez, Felicia, I., Gil Tomas, Floyd A. Reed, Sarah A. Tishkoff, and Jorge Rocha.  Patterns Nucleotide Diversity and Signatures of Natural Selection in ICAM-1.  Talk given at Annual Conference of Ford Foundation Fellows October 4-6, 2007 

Gomez, Felicia, I., Gil Tomas, Floyd A. Reed, Sarah A. Tishkoff, and Jorge Rocha.  Nucleotide Diversity and Signatures of Natural Selection in Intercellular Adhesion Molecule–1 (ICAM-1).  Poster presented at the Annual Meeting for the American Institute of Biological Sciences May 14  –15, 2007

Gomez, F. Overbey, M. M., Jones, J. Beckrich, A.  A Family Guide to Talking About Race.  A Project of the American Anthropological Association.  Funded by Ford Foundation and National Science Foundation. http://www.understandingrace.org/home.html


Ambrose, S., Brant, S. Brooks, A. Gomez, F. Haradon, C. Henry, A. McBrearty, S. Pearson, O. Pleurdeau, D. Shea, J., Tryon, C. Waweru, V. & Yellen, J.  Conference Guide to MSA Collections in the National Museums of Kenya and Ethiopia.  The Middle Stone Age of East Africa and Modern Human Origins Conference.  Nairobi, Kenya. July 17-23, 2005

Dianna Bopp, Kimberlee Musser, Donna Kohlerschmidt, Marilyn Kacica, Alicia Bebout, Felicia Gomez, Sherly Jose, Andrea Carpenter, Carolyn Scott, Amy Woron and Jill Thompson.  Multiple Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) Types in Sequential Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Isolates from a NY State Patient. In the Proceedings of the 9th Annual PulseNet Update Meeting.  Westin, Seattle. May 9 -11, 2005 (Poster presentation)


Possidente, B. P.,  Wishnow, J., Gomez, F., & Kur, S.  Genetic variation for circadian activity rhythm period among eight inbred mouse strains (2001). Behavior Genetics 31:5 465.

References are available upon request.