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PhD, Biology, University of Notre Dame
BA, Biology, Bellarmine University
As Tree Conservation Biologist, Sean Hoban works to understand, document, and conserve the genetic variation of trees species, both rare and common. Study species have included members of Quercus, Juglans, Populus, and Pinus. Sean Hoban’s research spans a range of topics in evolutionary biology, conservation science, biogeography, genomics, and forestry. Sean’s research program currently has three areas: (1) interpreting genetic data from trees, using modern statistical methods, to reveal basic aspects of plant ecology, to look ‘back in time’ at population demographic change, and to monitor the extent of gene flow among locations. Specific interests include understanding the evolutionary impact of disease outbreaks and fragmentation; rapid adaptation in new environments; hybridization; and migration in response to climate change. (2) determining f how best to conserve the seeds of rare species in safehouses like seed banks and living collections (including The Morton Arboretum’s own collection). To do so, the lab uses sophisticated mathematical and computational modeling approaches combined with genetic, geographic, and other data. The goal is to make sure that the genetic variation in conserved seed is of the highest utility for future reintroductions, ensuring the long term survival of species. (3) Developing and improving statistical methods and software in population genetics and conservation, which are used by researchers and practitioners. Throughout, Sean’s lab (along with an extended network of collaborators) strives to interpret this research to inform and guide management of species and landscapes.
He has published 33 technical articles and presented his work at more than two dozen regional, national, and international conferences and forums. He has planned and led workshops for the Society for Conservation Biology, The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and numerous agencies throughout the European Union. He is a member of the IUCN Global Tree Specialist Group and the Conservation Genetics Specialist Group, an Editor for the journal Conservation Genetics, a blogger, and a reviewer for two dozen scientific journals. He has contributed technical expertise to species’ assessment reports for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, to a new management strategy for CapeNature in South Africa, and to a Recovery Strategy for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. His teaching experience includes genetics, ecology, biostatistics, and plant science, as well as mentoring for K-12 students through the program PlantingScience.org. He has also mentored several students through guided and independent research. Before coming to the Arboretum Sean was a postdoctoral researcher in France and Italy, and was also awarded a prestigious, highly competitive fellowship to work at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis in Knoxville, Tennessee.