Siddharth Kulkarni will receive his PhD from George Washington (GW) University, where he has been working in the Hormiga Lab, in Fall 2021. Fascinated by the evolution and maintenance of the earth’s biodiversity, he has been studying arachnid evolution as a model, using morphology and advanced genomic and transcriptomic tools in collaboration with arachnologists at GW University, the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution and the California Academy of Sciences.
Siddharth’s doctoral research explored the evolutionary modalities of the smallest orb-weaving spiders. He developed specialized markers to target ultraconserved regions in spider genomes to study their evolutionary history, and he also studied the evolution of foraging web architecture across the Spider Tree of Life.
Siddharth is the coordinator of SpiderIndia, a citizen science initiative aimed at documenting the spiders of India, and he also mentored the composition of A Field Guide to the Spider Genera of India, the largest compilation of spiders in the Indian subcontinent.
In his postdoctoral research in the National Natural History Collections of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem with Dr. Efrat Gavish-Regev and Prof. Gila Kahila Bar-Gal, beginning in late 2021, he will be visiting the cave systems in Israel to study the genomic signatures of cave-specialized morphologies, using spiders as a study system. This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Sharma lab at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and funded by a joint NSF-BSF grant to Dr. Gavish-Regev and Prof. Prashant Sharma (Identifying genetic mechanisms underpinning eye loss in troglomorphic arachnids).