Rachel joined the Taylor Lab in May of 1999. During her tenure in the Taylor lab, she was a graduate student in the Microbiology Graduate Group interested in microbial population genetics and evolution. Rachel's independent research project extended the interests of the Taylor lab beyond fungi to the third domain of life, using multilocus sequence variation to explore the recent evolutionary past in populations of Sulfolobus islandicus. In collaboration with the Grogan lab at the University of Cincinnati, she has shown that isolates from geothermal hot springs in Yellowstone and Lassen National Parks and from the solfataric fields of the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia form two distinct geographically isolated populations. Her future work will include analysis of the patterns of nucleotide substitution and recombination in these hyperthermophilic archaeal populations.
Rachel graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2004, receiving her Ph.D. from the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. Rachel is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- Rachel J. Whitaker, Dennis W. Grogan and John W. Taylor. 2005. Recombination shapes the natural population structure of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus ‘islandicus’. Molecular Biology and Evolution 22(12): 2354-2361; doi:10.1093/molbev/msi233
- Rachel J. Whitaker, Dennis W. Grogan and John W. Taylor. 2003. Geographic Barriers Isolate Endemic Populations of Hyperthermophilic Archaea. Science Aug 15 2003: 976-978, published online July 24, 2003. (10.1126/science.1086909)
- Rachel Whitaker, Dennis Grogan and John Taylor. 2002. Biogeographic patters of Divergence between populations of Sulfolobus 'islandicus'. poster