Using vertebrate appendages as an evolutionary study system, I seek to characterize the developmental genetic mechanisms that control the generation of form and understand how these mechanisms both limit and potentiate evolutionary change. I leverage cutting-edge functional genetic tools in established model systems along with -omics approaches in emerging model species and evolutionary case studies to identify genetic changes that underlie morphological variation.

Cool stuff from Brent.

Related Projects


The lost ingredient of the vertebrate recipe.


  • M. B. Hawkins, D. Jandzik, F. J. Tulenko, A. N. Cass, T. Nakamura, N. H. Shubin, & D. W. Stock. 2022. An Fgf–Shh positive feedback loop drives growth in developing unpaired fins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 119 (10) e2120150119. PMID: 35238632 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2120150119 [link]

  • A. Thompson, M. B. Hawkins, E. Parey, D. Wcisel, T. Ota, K. Kawasaki, E. Funk, M. Losilla, O. Fitch, Q. Pan, & Others. 2021. The bowfin genome illuminates the developmental evolution of ray-finned fishes. Nature Genetics. Sep;53(9):1373-1384. PMID: 34462605 DOI: 10.1038/s41588-021-00914-y [link]

  • M. B. Hawkins, K. Henke, M. P. Harris. 2021. Latent developmental potential to form limb-like skeletal structures in zebrafish. Cell. 184(4):854-856. PMID: 33545089 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.01.003 [link]