Dr Sarah (Sally) P. Otto is a professor in the Department of Zoology and Director of the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia.
“Understanding how evolution has led to the remarkable diversity of life is the key motivating force behind my research. Mathematical models allow us to determine which evolutionary transitions are plausible, which are probable, and which are impossible.
“In addition to mathematical modeling, my research group carries out experimental evolution with plants and fungi, as well as synthetic data analysis, resulting in over 160 publications and a book. Current work focuses on the extent to which organisms can adapt to a changing world, and why they fail to do so.”
Sally helped establish the Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution and the Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellowship program in conservation biology. She has also served as Vice President of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Society of Naturalists, and the European Society of Evolutionary Biology, Council member for the Society for the Study of Evolution and the American Genetic Association, and member of several editorial boards.
A highly acclaimed scientist, Sarah received the coveted MacArthur Fellowship-popularly known as the Genius Award in 2011. Other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a McDowell Award for Excellence in Research (UBC), a Steacie Fellowship (Natural Sciences and Research Council; Canada), the Steacie Prize (National Research Council, Canada), and the Sewall Wright Award (American Society of Naturalists).