Dr. Felix Beaudry is an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Rochester. His research focuses on sex, genomes, sex chromosomes and mating system evolution.

Felix promotes an inclusive view of the biology of sex in his research and in the classroom. Sex chromosomes are not a good proxy for a person’s sex nor for their gender.

What I do

I research sex: I address century-old questions about mating system evolution using modern genetic tools. I have spent a lot of time considering why some organisms have sex chromosomes. I ask this question in a variety of ways. Why is a distinct chromosome-pair correlated with each sex, while this is not the case for any other physical aspects of the body? Why can we reliably identify the specific chromosome-pair associated with sex under the microscope? Is there a benefit that can explain why evolution keeps around chromosomes associated with sex? My work tests the prevailing theory that sex all relates to getting rid of bad mutations. 

You may have heard ‘males are XY & females are XX’. That’s not actually true. There are all kinds of sexual systems present in nature, and this natural diversity motivates my research: in none of the organisms I study are males only XY and females only XX. Despite the evidence, the ‘male/XY & female/XX’ misconception persists. As part of my research, I consider why this misconception is so common and I study how we can challenge it. I believe the ‘male/XY & female/XX’ misconception is common due to normative assumptions about gender and the projection of those assumptions onto sex.

I am currently studying the Florida Scrub Jay as a post-doc in the lab of Dr. Nancy Chen. In 2020, I investigated inbreeding and sociality in black widow spiders as a post-doc with Dr. Maydianne Andrade at the University of Toronto-Scarborough. I received a PhD in 2020 for studying the sex chromosomes of sorrels with Dr. Stephen I Wright at the University of Toronto-St. George. I completed my B.Sc. in 2014 exploring fish vision genes with Dr. John Taylor at the University of Victoria.

Florida Scrub Jay – Photo credit to Nancy Chen

Western Black Widow – Photo credit to Sean McCann

Long form on the Evolution of Sex

Recorded Presentations