Nora J. Besansky, the O’Hara Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. She is an expert in the genomics of malaria vectors, has applied several genomic technologies to deepen the understanding of the relationship between malaria-transmitting mosquitoes and their environments. Research in her laboratory has been aimed at uncovering how two genetic processes — chromosome structural rearrangements known as inversions, and the transfer of genes between species known as introgression — contribute to enhanced ability to transmit disease. Besansky is currently working on developing novel genomic resources and tools, including molecular inversion genotyping, to further her research.
Besansky earned her doctoral degree from Yale University in 1990, after earning her bachelor’s degree in biology from Oberlin College. She worked as a postdoctoral research fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and was a staff scientist there from 1991 to 1997. Besansky was hired as an associate professor in the department of Biology at Notre Dame in 1997. In 2002 she was promoted to full professor and became the O’Hara Professor in 2010.