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Meghan Phifer-Rixey

Megan V. Phifer-Rixey, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biology
Department of Biology
Office: PISB 320

Additional Sites:
Google Scholar


  • PhD, Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 2009
  • BS, Biology, Duke University, 2001

Curriculum Vitae:

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Research Interests:

  • Evolution
  • Genetics
  • Adaptation
  • Integrative Biology
  • Urban
  • Climate


Megan Phifer-Rixey is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Drexel University. She is an evolutionary biologist, and her research is motivated by the challenge of making connections between genotype, phenotype, and fitness, especially for complex traits and in the context of changing environments. The Phifer-Rixey lab uses many different approaches—combining genomics and population genetics with fieldwork and organismal functional studies. The lab also investigates fundamental questions in evolutionary genetics relating to adaptation, speciation, and demography, primarily focusing on wild house mice. House mice are one of the mostly widely used genetic model systems and they have recently spread around the world in association with humans. This combination makes them a great system for studying evolutionary genetics and the genetics of adaptation to new environments. The lab also collaborates on projects relating to marine genetics and biology education.

Megan earned her B.S. in Biology from Duke University and her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. As a Ph.D. student, Megan was awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation. Afterwards, she joined the University of Arizona as a postdoctoral researcher and then continued her postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley with Dr. Michael Nachman. In 2016, she joined the Biology Department at Monmouth University as an Assistant Professor. In 2021, she was awarded an NSF CAREER grant to study the genetics of urbanization in house mice. She joined the Department of Biology at Drexel University in 2023 where she will continue her work in evolutionary genetics with an emphasis on the impacts of urbanization.

Selected Publications:

Evolutionary Genetics in House Mice
  • Phifer-Rixey, M. and M. W. Nachman 2015. The natural history of model organisms: Insight into mammalian biology from the wild house mouse, Mus musculus. eLife. 4:e05959 (review)
  • Phifer-Rixey, M. , Bomhoff, M., and M.W. Nachman. 2014. Genome-wide patterns of differentiation among house mouse subspecies. Genetics 198(1):283-297.
  • Phifer-Rixey, M. , Bonhomme, F., Boursot, P., Churchill, G.A., Pialek, J., Tucker, P., and M.W. Nachman. 2012. Adaptive evolution and effective population size in wild house mice. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29(10):2949-2955.
  • Phifer-Rixey, M. ., Harr, B., and J. Hey. 2020. Further resolution of the house mouse (Mus musculus) phylogeny by integration over isolation-with-migration histories. BMC Evol Biol. 20:120.
Environmental Adaptation
  • Ferris KG, Chavez AS, Suzuki TA, Beckman EJ, Phifer-Rixey, M., Bi K, Nachman MW. 2021. The genomics of rapid climatic adaptation and parallel evolution in North American house mice. PLoS Genet. 17(4): e1009495. Suzuki, TA, Martins, FM, Phifer-Rixey, M., Nachman, MW. 2020. The gut microbiota and Bergmann’s rule in wild house mice. Molecular Ecology 29: 2300–2311.
  • Suzuki, T.A., Phifer-Rixey, M., Mack, K.L., Sheehan, M.J., Lin, T., Bi, K., and M.W. Nachman. 2019. Host genetic determinants of the gut microbiome of wild mice. Molecular Ecology. 28: 3197– 3207.
  • Mack, K.L., Phifer-Rixey, M., Harr, B., and M.W. Nachman. 2019. Gene expression networks across multiple tissues are associated with rates of molecular evolution in wild house mice. Genes 10(3), 225.
  • Mack, K.L., Ballinger, M.A., Phifer-Rixey, M., and M.W. Nachman. 2018. Gene regulation underlies environmental adaptation in house mice. Genome Research. gr.238998.118. doi: 10.1101/gr.238998.118.
  • Moeller, A.H., Suzuki, T.A., Phifer-Rixey, M. and M.W. Nachman. 2018. Transmission modes of the mammalian gut microbiota. Science 362 (6413): 453-457.
  • Phifer-Rixey, M., Bi, K., Ferris, K.G., Sheehan, M.J., Lin, D., Mack, K.L., Keeble, S.M., Suzuki, T., Good, J.M., and M.W. Nachman. 2018. The genomic basis of environmental adaptation in house mice. PLoS Genet 14(9): e1007672.
Evolution in Marine Systems
  • Xuereb, A. Rougemont, Q., Tiffin, P., Xue, H., and M. Phifer-Rixey. 2021. Individual-based eco-evolutionary models for understanding adaptation in changing seas. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 288 (1962), 20212006.
  • Phifer-Rixey, M., Heckman, M., Trussell, G. and P.S. Schmidt. 2009. Maintenance of clinal variation for shell colour phenotype in the flat periwinkle Littorina obtusata. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21(4):966-978.