The Graduate Student Seminar Series (GSSS) is a monthly event hosted by GSAS that showcases the wealth of graduate student research and expertise in all disciplines at UTSC. We encourage participation from all students at any stage of their graduate program, and talks can range anywhere from a simple research proposal to a data intensive research summary. The GSSS provides a great opportunity to practice thesis or conference presentations, prepare for committee meetings, or simply to share your latest findings in a supportive environment and get insightful feedback! Participants are provided with feedback from their peers and are considered for the $50 Presentation Award, awarded once per semester. If you wish to present at the GSSS but do not want to be judged for the award, just let us know.

Talks take place over the lunch hour so come enjoy some snacks, refreshments, and learn what your academic neighbours are up to! Any questions about the series or interest in giving a talk should be addressed to Amy Jenne ( or Monica Bastawrous (

Note: All seminars run from 12:00 to 1:00 pm.


Thursday September 24th, 2020 (12:30 PM) | Zoom

Else Mikkelsen, Department of Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology\

Whole genome sequencing unveils the evolutionary history of an enigmatic seabird family, the Skuas and Jaegers

Hybridization between species can play an important role in the evolution of birds, allowing for gene flow between diverging lineages before reproductive isolation is complete. Signatures of past gene flow can remain long after hybridization has ceased, and advances in genomic technologies have now made it easier than ever to characterize patterns of gene flow across the whole genomes of birds. In this study, I use whole genome sequencing of all seven currently-recognized species of skuas and jaegers (Stercorariidae) to elucidate the history of hybridization in this enigmatc family of seabirds. I use whole genome and mitogenome data to assess the phylogenetic relationships and history of gene flow between non-sister taxa, and analyze the history of effective population sizes. The genomes of the skuas reveal a complicated history of trans-equatorial dispersal events and unexpected connections between species breeding in opposite hemispheres. I reject a previously proposed hybrid origin for the Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus) and Great Skua (Stercorarius skua), which had previously been suggested based on patterns of mitonuclear discordance. 

Upcoming GSSS

Tuesday October 20th, 2020 

GSSS Presentation Award Winners

Winter 2020 – Serra-Willow Buchanan

Fall 2019 – Emily Chenery

Winter 2019 – Melanie Snow (Chemistry)

Fall 2018 – Sarah Simon (DPES)

Winter 2018 – Korryn Bodner (EEB)

Past Seminars