My name is Nicholas (Nick) Crawford. I am a PhD student at Boston University working with Dr. Christopher Schneider. I’m also part of a larger collaboration with the Hoekstra and Losos labs at Harvard University.
My PhD dissertation work involves the genetics of speciation and adaptation in Anolis lizards. Anoles represent one of the largest adaptive radiations of any vertebrate taxa.  In the Caribbean alone there are at least 150 different species.  Anoles are unusual in that they have a specialized gular fold, called a dewlap, that they use to signal to conspecifics.  These dewlaps come in a multitude of colors: red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, blue — you name it some species probably has it!  Many of these colors, yellow and orange in particular, appear to have evolved independently in multiple lineages.  Thus, anoles are an ideal model to study convergent evolution of pigmentation.
As such, I’m am using the anole genome, from A. carolinensis, in combination with next generation sequencing and other methods, to identify pigmentation genes that are differentially expressed in differently colored anole skin.
Although you might say that anoles ‘rule my world’ at the moment, this was not always the case.  Previously, I have worked at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) in Aiken South Carolina. There I was technician in Dr. Travis Glenn’s molecular ecology laboratory. Working for Dr. Glenn, my primary duty was to assist with the development and screening of microsatellite loci.  Prior to my time at SREL, I completed a masters at San Diego State University with Dr. Tod Reeder.  My MS thesis project investigated population structure and genetic variation within a genus of asexual whiptail lizards (=Aspidoscelis velox).

My Scientific Background:

My name is Nick Crawford, I’m both an author and a computational biologist. I have a PhD from Boston University, and I did Postdocs at both the California Academy of Sciences and The University of Pennsylvania. Working in the Tishkoff lab I investigated the genetic basis of pigmentation in African people. Previously I’ve studied a diversity of genera including Anolis lizards and Heliconius butterflies.

I’ve also contributed to a number of studies employing phylogenomic approaches to investigate core questions in vertebrate systematics. I helped develop a type of phylogenomic marker that uses target enrichment to capture ultra conserved regions (UCEs) and their variable flanking sequence. I’ve used these markers to investigate questions in mammalian, reptilian, and avian evolution.

I’m also an Author:

Together with my wife I write urban fantasy novels under the name CN Crawford. If you’re interested in strong female protagonists and brooding byronic love interests, we’ve got you covered. I’m also starting to work on a techno-thriller.

General Information:


  • I live in Burlington, Vermont
  • Email: NGCrawford[at]gmail.com