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Dr. Derr Biosketch

Dr. Jim Derr grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, just north of a small town of Bison. He spend a great deal of time outdoors, helping with his family farm, hunting and fishing. In college, Derr studied biology with an eye to being a wildlife manager. But along this path he realized that his passion was in understanding the genetics underlying the differences between species. Academically, he started taking genetics courses and eventually received a PhD in this field. He has been a professor at Texas A&M University in College Station for the last 20 years.

In the 1990s, he was the principal investigator on a proposal to investigate conservation genetic issues in current populations of American bison. These studies are important in conservation biology because of the well documented population crash and recovery of this species over the last 125 years. Unlike many other species that have bounced back from small numbers, most bison populations have retained healthy levels of genetic diversity and have escaped the problems most species encounter when attempting to inbreed their way out of a very low population numbers. This body of work was recently detailed in an article by Emma Marris in the scientific journal Nature in the February 2009 issue.

Dr. Jim Derr's research involves applying molecular genetics technology to problems involving conservation genetics, population genetics, gene mapping of economically important traits and the genetics of disease resistance in domesticated livestock and wildlife. Over the last decade his laboratory has investigated these issues in North American bison, domestic cattle, domestic goats, humans, bowhead whales and bottlenose dolphins.

Relying on over two decades of experience working with North American wildlife and domestic livestock, Dr. Derr has set his goal to bring the same conservation genetic technologies to multiple African species spanning sub-Saharan Africa. This effort is a merging of passion with profession.

Research Grant Highlights

  • Molecular and Population Genetics of Colombian Criollo cattle. J.N. Derr, S.K. Davis, J.L. Estrada, F. Ariza, J.E. Ossa, A.R. Linares. Agency: COLCIENCIAS, Bogota, Colombia. (1995 - 2000)
  • Conservation Genetics of Bowhead Whales. J.N. Derr (PI) and A.P. Rooney. Agency: Department of Wildlife Management, North Slope Borough, Barrow, AK. (1996 - 1998)
  • American Bison as a Model for the Conservation of Megavertebrate Populations. J.N. Derr (PI) and J.W. Templeton. Agency: National Science Foundation (1996 - 1999)
  • Development of a Genetic Based Breeding Program for the Texas State Bison Herd. J.N. Derr PI. Texas Parks and Wildlife, Austin, Texas. (2001 - 2002).
  • The Application of Conservation Genetics to the Long-term Management of Bison in Five National Parks. J.N. Derr and J.W. Templeton. Agency: Department of Interior, US Geological Service and the National Park Service. (2000-2004)
  • The Role of the Ft. Niobrara Wildlife Refuge and Sully's Hill Wildlife Preserve in the Long-Term Management of Federal Bison Herds. J. Derr PI and J. Templeton. The U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey & the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (2002 - 2003).
  • Development of a Genetic Based Breeding Program for the Badlands National Park Bison Herd. The Department of the Interior, US. J.N. Derr PI. (2005 - 2007).
  • Remove Threats To Irreplaceable Bison Herd At Wind Cave National Park. J. Derr and N. Halbert. The National Park Service FY 2006 Challenge Cost Share Program through Wind Cave National Park, (2007 - 2008).
  • Bison Herd Genetic Architecture and Management - Working Toward a Species-Wide Conservation Approach. The Nature Conservancy - RJ Kose funding for Conservation Biology. Bob Hamilton (TNC), co-PI, J. Derr (Co-PI) and N. Halbert. (2008 - 2009).
  • A Systematic Approach to African Wildlife Conservation Genetics. The Dallas Safari Club. J. Derr (PI), J. Lane Easter and Nigel Theisen.
For a complete CV and listing of all grants please click here .