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Chris Hamilton

Chris Hamilton

Assistant Professor


Ag Science, Room 229



Mailing Address

Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 2329
Moscow, Idaho 83844-2329

Ph.D., Auburn University
M.S., University of Texas at Arlington
B.A., Western Kentucky University

  • Systematics — Araneae, predominantly Mygalomorphae, in particular Theraphosidae (tarantulas); Lepidoptera, predominantly Bombycoidea, in particular Saturniidae (silkmoths)
  • Phylogenomics and comparative genomics — using Anchored Hybrid Enrichment and other sequencing approaches to better understand the Tree of Life; compare whole genomes and the differences in the composition, structure, and expression patterns that explain differences between species.
  • Geometric morphometrics — quantitatively analyze organismal size and shape.
  • Machine learning — use in species identification and species discovery.

As a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, I have a personal investment to engage and mentor fellow Native American students. The inclusion of underrepresented groups in biology, is essential to enhancing scientific literacy in the United States. I recently created a program involving middle school and high school students from the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma to engage them into modern biological research. This program uses the exciting bat-moth evolutionary arms race to get students into nature, collect specimens, and teaches them how to participate in DNA extraction and high-throughput sequencing with an Oxford Nanopore MinION, while also learning coding. Students take the assembled sequences, identify the CO1 barcode and use BOLD to identify the species they have collected. I am now working to adapt this approach for STEM education in Idaho, in particular our native tribes.

  • Kuntner M, Hamilton CA, Cheng R-C, Gregorič M, Lupše N, Lemmon EM, Lemmon AR, Agnarsson I, Coddington JA, Bond JE. in press. Golden orbweavers ignore biological rules: Phylogenomic and comparative analyses unravel a complex evolution of sexual size dimorphism. Systematic Biology.
  • Rubin J*, Hamilton CA*, Kawahara AY, Barber JR (*co-first authors). 2018. The evolution of anti-bat sensory illusions in moths. Science Advances. 4:eaar7428
  • Hamilton CA, Lemmon AR, Lemmon EM, Bond JE. 2016. Expanding anchored hybrid enrichment to resolve both deep and shallow relationships within the spider Tree of Life. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 16:212.
  • Hamilton CA, Hendrixson BE, Bond JE. 2016. Taxonomic revision of the tarantula genus Aphonopelma Pocock, 1901 (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae) within the United States. ZooKeys. 560: 1-340.
  • Garrison NL, Rodriguez J, Agnarsson I, Coddington JA, Griswold CE, Hamilton CA, Hedin M, Kocot KM, Ledford JM, Bond JE. 2016. Spider phylogenomics: untangling the Spider Tree of Life. PeerJ. 4:e1719.
  • Bond JE, Garrison NL, Hamilton CA, Godwin RL, Hedin M, Agnarsson I. 2014. Phylogenomics resolves a spider backbone phylogeny and rejects a prevailing paradigm for orb web evolution. Current Biology. 24: 1765-1771.

Understanding how Earth's diversity has been shaped by evolution is one of the key objectives in biological research, and a compelling mechanism for engaging and educating the public. My research is driven by three major questions: 1) What are the relationships within the arthropod Tree of Life?; 2) How has evolution produced such an astonishing array of form and function?; and 3) Why are particular lineages more diverse than others?.

The Hamilton lab is part of the new Arthropod Molecular Systematics lab at the University of Idaho Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology. We integrate phylogenomic, morphometric, ecological and behavioral data to establish hypotheses about the generation and maintenance of biodiversity. We also take great pride in discovering and describing new diversity. We also strongly believe that STEM outreach should be fundamental to what we do as scientists. My career aim is to establish a research program and lab that serves as a model to increase diversity in the sciences — particularly in the fields of entomology, evolution and bioinformatics, disciplines with a documented lack of diversity.


University of Idaho

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Rm 242
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2329
Moscow, ID 83844-2329

Phone: 208-885-3776