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Jan E. Janecka, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences

236 Mellon Hall
Phone: 412.396.5640


B.S., Biology, Cornell University, 1999
M.S., Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, University of Vermont, 2002
Ph.D., Wildlife Sciences, Texas A&M University, 2006
Postdoctoral Associate, Texas A&M University, 2006-2010
Research Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University, 2010-2013

Dr. Janecka is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Duquesne. He also serves as an Associate of the Snow Leopard Conservancy, and a member of the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, the Snow Leopard Network, and the USFWS Ocelot Implementation & Translocation Teams.

He received his B.S. degree in Biology from Cornell University. He examined social structure and dispersal of bobcats for his Masters thesis in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology at University of Vermont. His Ph.D. dissertation from Texas A&M University examined the effects of habitat fragmentation on the genetic diversity of ocelots. For his post-doctoral research, Dr. Janecka studied mammalian phylogenetics, patterns in the diversification of mammals, speciation of colugos at Texas A&M University, and snow leopard conservation genetics.

Currently, Janecka is focusing on conservation genetics of snow leopards, tiger genomics, cancer in tigers, the equine hindgut microflora, and the horse Y chromosome. He has conducted field expeditions, trained biologists, and taught genetics in numerous Asian Countries including Mongolia, China, Nepal, India, and Bhutan.


Janecka Genomics Laboratory

Research Focus: Population Genetics, Conservation Biology, Evolution

My lab studies genomics to address three fundamental questions in biology: (1) What affects the distribution and structure of wild populations? (2) What are the mechanisms that lead to adaptation? And (3) How do genomic factors contribute to various phenotypes and diseases? Answering these questions expands our understanding of evolution and ecology, improves conservation and management, and advances treatments of diseases and genetic disorders. Our projects incorporate diverse fields of biology including population genetics, phylogenetics, genomics, conservation biology, bioinformatics, physiology, microbiology, and ecology.

One of our main areas of focus is the snow leopard, which occurs in high-altitude mountainous regions of Central Asia. NoJanecka Labninvasive genetics is applied to examine distribution, abundance, and population structure of snow leopards in countries including Mongolia, Bhutan, Pakistan, India, and China. We work with many partners including the Snow Leopard Conservancy, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Irbis Mongolia, Panthera, and the International Snow Leopard Trust. Various genomic approaches are used to understand phylogeography, population structure, and the molecular adaptations that have enabled the snow leopard to colonize the high-altitude mountain ranges of Central Asia. The snow leopards share recent ancestry with tigers, which in contrast occur in lower-elevation forests. We are studying the genetics of both wild and captive population of these two species to understand the changes that led to their diversification, and to assist the conservation and management of captive and wild snow leopards and tigers. In addition, we are also are examining cancers in tigers that have been observed in captive populations. The Janecka lab continues to work on ocelot conservation genetics

Our second major area of interest focuses on studying horses to understand dynamic evolutionary processes within a genome and the coevolution of hindgut microbial communities. The first aspect examines the Y chromosome. It is a growing area of research because it is governed by different evolutionary mechanism compared to autosomes and the X. It has large heterochromatic sections, extensive repetitive elements and palindromes, multi-copy gene families, and ampliconic regions that have made it very difficult to sequence and assemble. Many of the genes on the Y are expressed only in testes; we are studying how these genes have evolved in equids and contribute to speciation and stallion fertility. Finally, horses and other herbivores are dependent on the microbial breakdown of cellulose to obtain energy and other nutrients. Dysregulation of the gut microflora can lead to diseases such as colic, diarrhea, and laminitis. We are studying the evolution and function of the equine microflora and potential links to laminitis.



Janecka JE, Simone SE, Nielsen SE, Andersen SD, Hoffman FG, Weber RE, Anderson T, Storz JF, Fago A (In Press) Respiratory properties of snow leopard hemoglobins are seemingly maladapted to life at high altitude. Journal of Experimental Biology Embargoed until August 4.

Avila F, Baily MP, Merriwether DA, Trifonov VA, Rubes J, Kutzler M, Chowdhary R, Janečka JE, Raudsepp T (2015) A cytogenetic and comparative map of camelid chromosome 36 and the minute in alpacas. Chromosome Research. DOI 10.1007/s10577-014-9463-3

Rodgers TW, Giacalone J, Heske EJ, Janecka JE, Jansen PA, Phillips, CA, Schooley RL (2015) Socio-spatial organization and kin structure in ocelots from integration of camera trapping and noninvasive genetics. Journal of Mammalogy 96:120 - 128.

Rodgers T, Giacalone J, Heske E, Janecka J, Phillips C, Schooley R (2014) Support for fecal noninvasive genetics as a valid technique for estimating population density of elusive animals. Tropical Conservation Science 7:690 - 705. Received Journal Cover.

Statham MJ, Murdoch J, Janecka J, Aubry KB, Edwards CJ, Soulsbury CD,Berry O, Wang Z, Harrison D, Pearch M, Tomsett L, Chupasko J, Sacks B (2014) Multilocus phylogeography reveals divergent lineages and speciation within the most widely distributed terrestrial carnivore on earth, the red fox. Molecular Ecology 23:4813 - 4830.

Janecka JE, Tewes ME, Laack L, Caso A, Grassman LI, Honeycutt RL (2014) Loss of genetic diversity among ocelots in the United States during the 20th century linked to human induced population reductions. Plos One 26 Feb 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089384

Janecka JE, Jackson R, Munkhtsog B, Murphy WJ (2014) Characterization of 9 microsatellites and primers in snow leopards and a species-specific PCR assay for identifying noninvasive samples. Conservation Genetic Resources 6:369-373.

Janecka JE, Alves P, Karmacharya D, Samsel N, Tallmon D, Schwartz M, Cheng E (2013) Wildlife genetics in rugged landscapes: methods, applications, and examples. In: Wildlife Research Techniques in Rugged Mountainous Asian Landscapes. Scott L. Mills & Tshering Tempa, Editors. Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment, Bhutan. Pp. 35-61.

Rodgers T, Janecka JE (2013) Applications and techniques for non-invasive faecal genetics research in felid conservation. European Journal of Wildlife Research 59:1-16.

Holbrook JD, De Young RW, Janecka JE, Tewes ME, Honeycutt RL, Young JH (2012) Genetic diversity, population structure, and movements of mountain lions (Puma concolor) in Texas. Journal of Mammalogy 93:989-1000.

Janecka JE. (2012) Tracks of my soul. In: Snow Leopard Stories from the Roof of the World. Don Hunter, Editor. University Colorado Press. Pp. 25-31.

Janecka JE, Chowdhary B, Murphy WJ (2012) Exploring the correlations between sequence evolution rate and phenotypic divergence across the Mammalian tree provides insights into adaptive evolution. Journal of Bioscience 37:1-13.

Murphy MJ, Janecka JE, Stadler T, Eizirik E, Ryder OA, Gatesy J, Meredith RW, Springer MS (2012) Response to comment on "Impacts of the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution and KPg Extinction on Mammal Diversification." Science 337:34-35.

Rosen T, Hussain S, Mohammad G, Jackson R, Janecka JE, Michel S (2012) Reconciling sustainable development of mountain communities with large carnivore conservation. Mountain Research and Development 32:286-293. Translated to Russian.

Springer MS, Meredith R, Gatesy J, Emerling C, Park J, Rabosky D, Stadler TC, Ryder O, Janecka JE, Fisher C, Murphy W (2012) Macroevolutionary dynamics and historical biogeography of primate diversification inferred from a species supermatrix. PLoS ONE 7:11:e49521:1-23.

Steelman S, Chowdhary B, Suchodolski J, Dowd S, Janecka JE (2012) Pyrosequencing of 16s rRNA Genes in fecal samples reveals high diversity of hindgut microflora in horses and potential links to chronic laminitis. BMC Veterinary Research 8:231.

Anwar MB, Jackson R, Nadeem MS, Janecka JE, S Hussain, Beg MA, Ghulam M, and Qayyum M (2011) Food habits of snow leopard Panthera uncia (Schreber, 1775) in Baltistan, Northern Pakistan. European Journal of Wildlife Research 57:1077-1083.

Gilad O, Janecka, JE, Armstrong F, Tewes ME, Honeycutt TL (2011) Mountain lions in Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Estimates of occurrence and distribution through DNA analysis. The Southwestern Naturalist 56:297-304.

Janecka JE, Munkhtsog B, Jackson RM, Mallon DP, Naranbaatar G, Gerelmaa K, Murphy WJ (2011) Comparison of noninvasive genetic and camera-trapping techniques for surveying snow leopards. Journal of Mammalogy 92:771-783.

Janecka JE, Tewes ME, Laack LL, Caso A, Grassman LI Jr, Haines AM, Shindle D, Davis B, Murphy WJ, Honeycutt RL (2011) Reduced genetic diversity and isolation of remnant ocelot populations occupying a severely fragmented landscape in southern Texas. Animal Conservation 14:608-619.

Karmacharya DB, Thapa K, Shrestha R, Dhakal M, Janecka JE (2011) Noninvasive genetic population survey of snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in Kangchenjunga Conservation Area, Shey Phoksundo National Park and surrounding buffer zones of Nepal. BMC Research Notes 4:1-8.

Li G, Janecka JE, Murphy WJ (2011) Accelerated evolution of a putative premating isolation gene, CES7, in the cat family. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28:911-920.

*Meredith, RW, *Janecka JE (Co-first authors contributed equally), Gatesy J, Ryder OA, Fisher CA, Teeling EC, Alisha Goodbla A, Eizirik E, Simão TLL, Stadler T, Rabosky DL, Honeycutt RL, Flynn JF, Ingram CI, Steiner C, Williams TL, Robinson TJR, Burk-Herrick A, Westerman M, Ayoub NA, *Springer MS, *Murphy WJ (2011) Impacts of the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution and KPg Extinction on Extant Mammal Diversification. Science 334:521-524. *First and last authorship determined by coin flip.

Springer MS, Meredith RW, Janecka JE, Murphy WJ (2011) The historical biogeography of Mammalia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366:2478-2502.

Miller W, Drautz DI, Janecka JE, Lesk AM, Ratan A, Tomsho LP, Packard M, Zhang Y, McClellan LR, Qi J, Zhao F, Gilbert MTP, Dalén L, Arsuaga JL, Ericson PGP, Huson DH, Helgen KM, Murphy WJ, Götherström A, Schuster SC (2009) The mitochondrial genome sequence of the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus). Genome Research 19:213-220. Received Journal Cover.

Janecka JE, Jackson R, Zhang Y, Li D, Munkhtsog B, Buckley-Beason V, Murphy WJ (2008) Population monitoring of snow leopards using noninvasive collection of scat samples: A pilot study. Animal Conservation 11:401-411. Received Journal Cover.

Janecka JE, Jackson R, Zhang Y, Li D, Munkhtsog B, Buckley-Beason V, Murphy WJ (2008) Population monitoring of snow leopards using noninvasive genetics. Cat News 48:7-10.

Janecka JE, Lim NT-L, Baba M, Izawa M, Boeadi, Murphy WJ (2008) Evidence for multiple species of Sunda colugos. Current Biology 18:R1001-R1002.

Janecka JE, Tewes ME, Laack LL, Grassman LI Jr, Haines AM, Honeycutt RL (2008) Small effective population sizes of two remnant ocelot populations (Leopardus pardalis albescens) in the United States. Conservation Genetics 9:869-878.

Haines AM, Tewes ME, Janecka JE, Grassman LI (2007) Evaluating the benefits and costs of ocelot recovery in southern Texas. Endangered Species UPDATE 24:35-40.

Janecka JE, Blankenship TL, Hirth DH, Kilpatrick CW, Tewes ME, Grassman LI Jr (2007) Evidence for male-biased dispersal in bobcats Lynx rufus using relatedness analysis. Wildlife Biology 13:38-47.

Janecka JE, Grassman LI Jr, Honeycutt RL, Tewes ME (2007) Whole genome amplification for sequencing and applications in conservation genetics. The Journal of Wildlife Management 71:1357-1360.

Janecka JE, Miller W, Pringle TH, Wiens F, Zitzmann A, Helgen KM, Springer MS, Murphy WJ (2007) Molecular and genomic data identify the closest living relative of primates. Science 318:792-795.

Janecka JE, Walker CW, Tewes ME, Caso A, Laack LL, Honeycutt RL (2007) Phylogenetic relationships of ocelot (Leopardus pardalis albescens) populations from the Tamaulipan Biotic Province and implications for recovery. Southwestern Naturalist 52:89-96. Received Journal Cover.

Grassman LI, Haines AM, Janecka JE, Tewes ME (2006) Activity periods of photo-captured mammals in northcentral Thailand. Mammalia 70:306-309.

Grassman LI, Janecka JE, Austin SC, Tewes ME, Silvy NJ (2006) Chemical immobilization of free-ranging dhole (Cuon alpinus), binturong (Arctis binturong), and yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula) in Thailand. European Journal of Wildlife Research 52:297-300.

Grassman LI, Janecka JE, Tewes ME (2006) Ecological separation of Martes flavigula with 5 sympatric mesocarnivores in northcentral Thailand. In: Martes in Carnivore Communities: Proceedings of the 4th International Martes Symposium. Santos-Reis M, Proulx G, Birks JDS, O'Doherty EC, Editors. Alpha Wildlife Publications, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada. Pp. 63-73.

Haines AM, Grassman LI, Janecka JE, Tewes ME (2006) First ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) monitored with GPS telemetry. European Journal of Wildlife Research 52:216-218.

Haines AM, Janecka JE, Tewes ME, Grassman LI, Morton P (2006) The importance of private lands for ocelot Leopardus pardalis conservation in the United States. Oryx 40:1-5.

Haines AM, Tewes ME, Grassman LI, Janecka JE (2006) Identifying culvert sites to reduce ocelot vehicle collisions. Wild Cat News 2:27-32.

Haines AM, Tewes ME, Grassman LI, Janecka JE (2006) Reducing ocelot vehicle collisions. Wild Cat News 2:1-6

Janecka JE, Blankenship TL, Hirth DH, Tewes ME, CW Kilpatrick, LI Grassman Jr (2006) Kinship and social structure of bobcats (Lynx rufus) inferred from microsatellite and radio-telemetry data. Journal of Zoology (London) 269:494-501.

Janecka JE, Grassman LI Jr, Derr JN, Honeycutt RL, Eiadthong W, Tewes ME (2006) Rapid whole genome amplification of DNA from felids: Applications for conservation genetics. Wildlife Society Bulletin 34:1134-1141.

Janecka JE, Jenkins MB, Brackett NS, Lion LW, Ghiorse WC (2002) Characterization of a Sinorhizobium isolate and its extracellular polymer implicated in pollutant transport in soil. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 68:423-425.

Pimentel D, McNair S, Janecka JE, Wightman J, Simmonda C, O'Connel C, Wong E, Russel L, Zern J, Aquino T, Tsomondo T (2001) Economic and environmental threats of alien plant, animal, and microbe invasions. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 84:1-20.


BIOL 250: Genetics, 3 credits (Spring 2014, 2015, 2016)
This course covers major topics in genetics and the methods, approaches, and breakthroughs made in this exciting field. A problem solving approach is used to teach fundamental principles. Attention is given to relevant examples that illustrates the applications of genetics to our society, health, conservation, and other important aspects of the world. Topics include classical Mendelian genetics, chromosomal inheritance, disease, population genetics, evolution, and gene expression.

BIOL 394: Undergraduate Biology Seminar, 1 credit (Fall 2014, 2015)
This course applies active learning to give students a solid foundation in developing, writing, and presenting scientific research. Students read and discuss scientific literature, critically assess methods and results, evaluate hypotheses based on results, and present their ideas in both written and oral form. During the course they are guided by the instructor to (1) write a proposal or manuscript and (2) develop a PowerPoint presentation. The goal is to produce a proposal/manuscript that can be submitted to a funding agency or scientific journal. They are encouraged to give their PowerPoint presentation at a scientific conference the following semester.

BIOL 419/619: Bioinformatics: Analysis of Molecular Genomic Data, 3 credits (Fall 2015)
Bioinformatics is the statistical analysis of biological data. This course covers the theory, approaches, and applications to interpreting DNA, RNA, protein and genomic data. Topics covered include sequence analysis, alignment, phylogenetics, analysis of RNA and proteins, functional genomics, application of next-generation sequencing technology, de novo assembly, read mapping, variant detection, gene annotation, differential expression using RNAseq, genome wide association studies, and statistical analysis and interpretation genomic data.

BIOL 490/690: Seminar, 1 credit (Fall 2015)
Department of Biological Sciences seminar series.

BIOL 646: Advanced Topics: Bioinformatics - Analysis of Genomic Data, 1 credit (Fall 2014)
This course provides an abridged introduction to analyzing and interpretation of next generations sequencing data and using bioinformatics software in Linux. Topics covered include processing sequencing reads, de novo assembly, read mapping, variant detection, gene annotation, differential expression using RNAseq, genome wide association studies, and statistical analysis and interpretation genomic data.

Professional Affiliations