I'm Ana Y. Morales-Arce,
a research fellow at IZSVe in Verona, Italy.

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I am a population geneticist and molecular biologist with a current interest in pathogens evolution. I earned my B.Sc. in Biotechnology and M.Sc. in Anthropology from TEC-Tecnológico de Costa Rica- and the University of Costa Rica, respectively. I earned my Ph.D. in Archaeology at the University of Calgary in Canada, where I applied mitochondrial aDNA analysis on pre-Columbian skeletal samples from Central America and Mexico to address questions about ancestry and past population movements. My dissertation was funded through a Wadsworth Fellowship awarded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation of the United States. Then, I was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Evolution & Medicine, Arizona State University, where I was co-advised by a computational population geneticist (Dr. Jeffrey Jensen) and a molecular anthropologist (Dr. Anne Stone). I used population genetic modeling and approximate Bayesian statistical analyses to establish an evolutionary null model for within-host Mycobacterium tuberculosis and extended these analyses to include other human pathogens, such as Influenza A virus (IAV) and cytomegalovirus. I recently worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher studying the dynamics of mutagenic drugs in influenza A virus. My work was conducted at the IGC, in Portugal, and the University of Bern, Switzerland, where I was advised by a population geneticist (Dr. Claudia Bank). I currently work at IZSVe in Verona, Italy.


My research explores the relative roles of different evolutionary processes in shaping pathogen variation and evolution, including progeny skew, infection dynamics, as well as direct and linked selection effects. During my master's and Ph.D., I explored modern and ancient human DNA to understand the evolutionary history of past Central American and Mexican groups. In studying the pathology of human remains morphologically during my graduate studies, I became interested in our ability to utilize genetic tools to study the impact of human pathogens. Since then, I have studied the evolution of human pathogens, mainly evaluating the role of stochastic and selective forces on pathogen genomic variation. For my research, I use a combination of empirical and theoretical/computational methods, as I am interested in the interface of wet and dry lab biology. Recently, I conducted an experimental evolution approach in combination with simulations to understand the adaptation of IAV to mutagenic drugs. I aimed to describe changes in mutation rates and the distribution of fitness effects (DFE) of new mutations in in-vitro populations. Characterizations of the DFE in RNA viruses such as influenza will be essential in further exploring alternative therapies such as mutational meltdown.


2022 Morales-Arce AY, Smith-Guzmán NE . Human genetic diversity through time in Central America: Current advances and future directions. In: Roberto Herrera, Yahaira Núñez-Cortés, and Geoffrey McCafferty, editors. The Cultural Mosaic of Central America: Diverse Archaeologies of the Archaeology of Diversity. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press. In review.
2022 Claudia Bank, Mark A. Schmitz, Morales-Arce AY. Evolutionary models predict potential mechanisms of escape from mutational meltdown. Front. Virol. 2:886655.
2022 Susanna Sabin, Morales-Arce AY, Susanne P. Pfeifer, and Jeffrey D. Jensen. Comparative population genomics of Mycobacterium canettii and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics, 12(5):jkac055.
2022 Morales-Arce AY, Johri P, Jensen JD. Inferring the distribution of fitness effects in patient-sampled and experimental virus populations: two case studies. Heredity, 128, 79–87
2021 Songül Alpaslan-Roodenberg, David Anthony, Hiba Babiker, Eszter Bánffy, Thomas Booth, Patricia Capone, Arati Deshpande-Mukherjee, Stefanie Eisenmann, Lars Fehren-Schmitz, Michael Frachetti, Ricardo Fujita, Catherine J. Frieman, Qiaomei Fu, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Victoria Gibbon, Wolfgang Haak, Mateja Hajdinjak, Kerstin P. Hofmann, Brian Holguin, Takeshi Inomata, Hideaki Kanzawa-Kiriyama, William Keegan, Janet Kelso, Johannes Krause, Ganesan Kumaresan, Chapurukha Kusimba, Sibel Kusimba, Carles Lalueza-Fox, Bastien Llamas, Scott MacEachern, Swapan Mallick, Hirofumi Matsumura, Janet Monge, Morales-Arce AY, Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, Veena Mushrif-Tripathy, Nathan Nakatsuka, Rodrigo Nores, Christine Ogola, Mercedes Okumura, Nick Patterson, Ron Pinhasi, S.P.R. Prasad, Mary E. Prendergast, Jose Luis Punzo, David Reich, Rikai Sawafuji, Elizabeth Sawchuk, Stephan Schiffels, Jakob Sedig, Svetlana Shnaider, Kendra Sirak, Pontus Skoglund, Viviane Slon, Meradeth Snow, Marie Soressi, Matthew Spriggs, Philipp W. Stockhammer, Anna Szécsényi-Nagy, K. Thangaraj, Vera Tiesler, Ray Tobler, Chuan-Chao Wang, Christina Warinner, Surangi Yasawardene, Muhammad Zahir. Ethics of DNA Research on Human Remains: Five Globally Applicable Guidelines. Nature 599, 41–46.
2020 Morales-Arce AY, Sabin SJ, Stone AC, Jensen JD. The population genomics of within-host Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Heredity, 126, 1–9.
2020 Morales-Arce AY, Harris RB, Stone AC, Jensen JD. Evaluating the contributions of purifying selection and progeny-skew in dictating within-host Mycobacterium tuberculosis evolution. Evolution, 74-5:992-1001.
2019 Morales-Arce AY, McCafferty G, Hand J, Schmill N, McGrath K, Speller C. Ancient mitochondrial DNA and population dynamics in Postclassic Central Mexico: Cholula (A.D. 900-1350) and Tlatelolco (A.D. 1325-1521). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 11: 3459-3475.
2017 Morales-Arce AY, Hofman CA, Duggan AT, Benfer AK, Katzenberg MA, McCafferty G, Warinner C. Successful reconstruction of whole mitochondrial genomes from ancient Central America and Mexico. Scientific Reports. 7(1):18100.
2017 Morales-Arce AY, Snow MH, Kelley JH, Katzenberg MA. Ancient mitochondrial DNA and ancestry of Paquimé inhabitants, Casas Grandes (1200-1450 A.D.). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 163: 616-626.
2015 Morales-Arce AY. Ancient DNA studies in Mesoamerica: major contributions and limitations. Proceedings of the Annual Chacmool Archaeological Conference 47: 139-148.
2014 McCafferty G, Carrol G, Manion J, Morales-Arce AY, Smekal M. Huesos Nicaragua: Creación de un Laboratorio de Bio-Arqueología en la Universidad Nacional/ Bones Nicaragua: Creation of a Bio-Archaeology Laboratory in the National University. Mi Museo y Vos 29: 13-16.
2012 Morales-Arce AY, Alvarado Rojas S, Calvo Brenes M, Contreras Rojas J, Raventós Vorst. Un acercamiento al contenido cultural de los delirios de personas con esquizofrenia de Costa Rica/ Cultural content of delusions in people with schizophrenia from Costa Rica. Cuadernos de Antropología, 22.
2012 Morales-Arce AY. Lactose Intolerance in Indigenous Groups of Lower Central America. Genetic variation and its potential health problem. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, Germany. 84p.

Courses/ teaching experience

Year University Role Topic Enrollment
2022 University of Bern Teaching Assistant Statistics for biologists 70
2020 Arizona State University Original lectures contribution Advanced evolutionary medicine (online class) 30
2017 University of Calgary Instructor of Record Introduction to Primatology and Human Evolution 200
2014-2016 University of Calgary Teaching Assistant Graduate Head Teaching Assistant. Laboratory: Introduction to Physical Anthropology 8 labs of 22 students each
2015 University of Calgary Teaching Assistant Laboratory: Introduction to Archaeology 2 labs of 20 students each
2015 University of Calgary Teaching Assistant Archaeology & Popular Culture - Frauds, Myths & Mysteries 100
2013 University of Calgary Teaching Assistant Ethnographic Survey of Latin America 200
2012 University of Costa Rica Instructor of Record Molecular Basis of Human Phylogeny 20
2011 University of Costa Rica Instructor of Record Principles of Population Genetics 30
2011 University of Costa Rica Instructor of Record Biological Anthropology 30-40



2022 Bridging experiments and simulations to study the effect of mutagenic drugs on influenza A virus populations. European Society for Evolutionary Biology. Prague, CZE.
2022 SIBdays. Evolution and phylogeny. Biel, CH; Session organizer
2022 Biology22. University of Basel. Basel, CH; talk
2020 American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Los Angeles, CA, USA; talk
2019 Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE). Manchester, UK; poster
2019 The Evolutionary Genetics of Infectious Disease, Carleton University, ON; talk
2019 Society for American Archaeology 84th Annual Meeting (SAA), Albuquerque, NM; talk
2017 Chacmool Conference, Calgary, AB; Session organizer and talk
2016 49th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association (CAA), Whitehorse, Yukon; talk
2016 Latin American Research Center, Graduate Student Symposium (LARC), Calgary, AB; talk
2016 Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, FL; talk
2016 6th Annual Interdisciplinary Archaeology Research Conference (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA; talk
2015 48th Chacmool Conference, Calgary, AB; talk
2015 Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, USA; talk
2015 Methods in Ecology and Evolution: Next Generation Ecology and Evolution, Calgary, AB; talk
2014 47th Chacmool Conference. Calgary, AB; talk
2014 Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX; talk
2011 Congreso Centroamericano de Antropologia, Tegucigalpa, Honduras; talk
2010 Nutrition and Health Congress. San José, Costa Rica; talk
2009 Darwin200 Celebration International Simposium, Alajuela, Costa Rica; talk


[email protected]
+39 339 590 6953