Professor Sarah Otto FRS

Dr Sarah Otto is recognized for her contributions to the solution of several fundamental problems in evolutionary biology. She developed a robust mathematical foundation for explaining the evolution of sexual reproduction. Her empirical and theoretical studies have helped to understand the evolution of haploid and diploid life cycles and have illuminated the evolutionary forces structuring genomes. She co-developed statistical methods for estimating the influence of traits on speciation and extinction rates using phylogenetic trees. Dr. Otto's recent work, using both mathematical models and yeast, has focused on evolutionary dynamics in a rapidly changing world. During the pandemic, she worked to clarify the impact of evolutionary changes on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and public health implications.

Dr Otto co-developed and directs the Liber Ero post-doctoral program in Canada. She has written the standard textbook on mathematical modelling for biologists. With over 200 publications, her awards include a MacArthur Fellowship and fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Professional position

  • Professor, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia
Professor Sarah Otto FRS
Elected 2024

Credit: Paul H. Joseph