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Jeff Leips, Ph.D.



Office: BS 464
Phone: 410-455-2238
Lab: BS 364/368/369
Lab Phone: 410-455-3479


Research Group

Dr. Leips’ research on “The Adaptive Significance of Population Differentiation in Offspring Size of The Least Killfish, Heterandria formosa” has been profiled in Fall 2013 by DugDug seeks to widen the scope of scientific, medical, economic, and political information available to the broader public.



PhD, Florida State University, 1997
BS, Florida State University, 1983

Professional Interests

Our research is focused on understanding the genetic basis of natural variation in life history traits using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism.  We are particularly interested in identifying genes that control age-specific changes in traits that directly contribute to senescence and ultimately limit life span.  These traits include age-specific reproduction, immune response and energy storage.  We are also actively studying the ecology of natural populations of Drosophila to identify the agents of selection acting on genes controlling these traits.  Our goal is to combine knowledge of the natural history of this species with an understanding of the genetic architecture of these traits to help explain the maintenance of genetic variation in age-related changes in fitness in natural populations.

I am also co-director of a new undergraduate training program at UMBC supported by the National Science Foundation (Undergraduate Training Program in Biology and Mathematics).


Hoffman K1, Leupen S2, Dowell K3, Kephart K4, Leips J. Development and Assessment of Modules to Integrate Quantitative Skills in Introductory Biology Courses. CBE Life Sci Educ June 1, 2016 15:ar14; doi:10.1187/cbe.15-09-0186.

Dalton B.E., Lu J., Leips J., Cronin T.W., Carleton K.L. 2015. Variable light environments induce plastic spectral tuning by regional opsin coexpression in the African cichlid fish, Metriaclima zebra. Mol Ecol., 10.1111/mec. 13312.

Durham M.F., Magwire M.M., Stone E.A., Leips J. 2014. Genome-wide analysis in Drosophila reveals age-specific effects of SNPs on fitness traits. Nat Commun., 10.1038/ncomms5338.

Horn L., Leips J., Starz-Gaiano M. 2014. Phagocytic ability declines with age in adult Drosophila hemocytes. Aging Cell, 10.1111/acel.12227

Leips, J., Rodd, F.H,, and Travis, J. 2013. The adaptive significance of population differentiation in offspring size of the least killifish, Heterandria formosa.  Ecology and Evolution, 3:948-960.

Hodges, T.K., Laskowski, K.L., Squadrito, G.L., De Luca, M., Leips, J. 2012. Defense traits of larval Drosophila melanogaster exhibit genetically based tradeoffs against different species of parasitoids. Evolution, 67:749-760.

Felix, T.M., Hughes, K.A., Stone, E.A., Drnevich, J.M., Leips, J. 2012.  Age-specific variation in immune response in Drosophila melanogaster has a genetic basis. Genetics 191:989-1002.

Travis, J., Leips, J., Rodd, F.H. 2012.  Evolution in population parameters: density-dependent selection or density-dependent fiitness?  American Naturalist, 181: Suppl 1:S9-S20.

Van Meter, R.J., Swan, C.M., Leips, J., Snodgrass, J.W. 2011.  Road salt stress induces novel food web structure and interactions. Wetlands 31:843-851.

De Luca, M., Klimentidis, Y.C., Casazza, K., Chambers, M.M., Cho, R., Harbison, S.T., Jumbo-Lucioni, P., Zhang, S., Leips, J., Fernandez, J.R. 2010. A conserved role for syndecan family members in the regulation of whole-body energy metabolism.  PLoS One. 2010 Jun 23;5(6):e11286.

Cho, I., Horn, L., Felix, T.M., Foster, L., Gregory, G., Starz-Gaiano, M., Chambers, M.M., De Luca, M., and Leips, J.  2010.  Age- and diet-specific effects of variation at S6 kinase on life history, metabolic and immune response traits in Drosophila melanogaster.  DNA and Cell Biology, 29:473-485.

Jumbo-Lucioni, P., Ayroles, J.F., Moses Chambers, M.,  Jordan, K.W., Leips, J., Mackay, T.F.C, and De Luca, M. 2010. Systems genetics analysis of body weight and energy metabolism traits in Drosophila melanogaster. BMC Genomics, 11:297

Leips, J., Richardson, J.M.L., Rodd, F.H., and Travis, J.  2009.  Adaptive maternal adjustments of offspring size in response to conspecific density in two populations of the least killifish, Heterandria formosa. Evolution 63:1341-1347.

Leips, J. Invertebrate models of immunosenescence. 2009. In Handbook on Immunosenescence: basic understanding and clinical applications. G. Pawelec, C. Franceschi, K. Hirokawa and T. Fulop, eds. Springer. Pp. 87-106.

Bunt, S.K., Yang, L., Sinha, P., Clements, V.K., Leips, J., Ostrand-Rosenberg, S.  2007.  Reduced inflammation in the tumor microenvironment delays the accumulation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells and limits tumor progression. Cancer Research 67:10019-10026.

Lai, C.Q., Leips, J., Zou, W., Roberts, J.F., Wollenberg, K.R., Parnell, L.D., Zeng, Z.B., Ordovas, J.M., Mackay, T.F.C.  2007. Speed-mapping quantitative trait loci using microarrays.  Nature Methods 4:839-841.

Reynolds, R.M., Temiyasathit, S., Reedy, M.M., Ruedi, E.A., Drnevich, J.M., Leips, J. and Hughes, K.A. 2007. Age specificity of inbreeding load in Drosophila melanogaster and implications for the evolution of late-life mortality plateaus.  Genetics 177:587-595.

De Luca, M. and Leips, J.  2007. Mapping genetic polymorphisms affecting natural variation in Drosophila longevity.  Methods in Molecular Biology 371:307-320.

Kiere, L.M., Hofmann, C.M., Tracy, I.E., Cronin, T.W., Leips, J., and K.E. Omland. 2007. Using color to define species boundaries: quantitative analysis in the orchard oriole complex supports the recognition of two species. Condor 109:692-697.

Lesser, K., I. Paiusi and Leips, J.  2006. Naturally occurring genetic variation in the age-specific immune response of Drosophila melanogaster. Aging Cell, 5:293-295.

Leips, J., Gilligan, P. and Mackay, T.F.C. 2006.  Quantitative trait loci with age-specific effects on fecundity in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 172:1595-1605.

Hughes, K.A. and Leips, J.  2006.   Quantitative trait locus analysis of male mating success and sperm competition in Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution 60:1427-1434.

Bunt, S.K., Sinha, P., Clements, V.K., Leips, J., and Ostrand-Rosenberg, S. 2006.  Inflammation induces myeloid-derived suppressor cells that facilitate tumor progression. Journal of Immunology 176:284-290.

Carbone, M.A., Jordan, K.W., Lyman, R.F., Harbison, S.T., Leips, J., Morgan, T.J., DeLuca, M., Awadalla, P. and Mackay, T.F.C.  2006.  Phenotypic variation and natural selection at Catsup, a pleiotropic quantitative trait gene in Drosophila. Current Biology, 16:912-919

De Luca, M., Yi, N., Allison, D.B., Leips, J. and Ruden, D.M.  2005.  Mapping quantitative trait loci affecting variation in Drosophila triacylglycerol storage.  Obesity Research 13:1596-1605.

Mackay, T.F.C., Roshina, N.V., Leips, J.W. and Pasyukova, E.G. 2005. Complex genetic architecture of Drosophila longevity. Pp. 181-216 in Handbook of the Biology of Aging. E. J. Masoro and S. N. Austad, eds. Academic Press, Burlington, MA.

Leips, J., and T.F.C. Mackay. 2002.  The complex genetic architecture of Drosophila lifespan. Experimental Aging Research 28:361-390.

Leips, J., C.T. Baril, F.H. Rodd, D.N. Reznick, F. Bashey, G.J. Visser and J. Travis.  2001.   The suitability of calcein to mark Poeciliid fish and a new method of detection. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 130:501-507

Leips, J., and T.F.C. Mackay.  2000.  Quantitative trait loci for lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster: interactions with genetic background and larval density. Genetics 155:1773-1788.

Leips, J., J. Travis, and F.H. Rodd. 2000.  Genetic influences on experimental population dynamics of the least killifish.  Ecological Monographs 70:289-309.

Leips, J., M.G. McManus, and J. Travis. 2000.  Life-history responses of treefrog larvae to drying ponds: comparing temporary and permanent pond breeders. Ecology 81:2997-3008.

Leips, J. and J. Travis.  1999.  The relationship between life histories and population dynamics: a study of four natural populations of the least killifish, Heterandria formosa.   Journal of Animal Ecology 68:595-616.

Garganus, M., S.V. Nuzhdin, Leips J., and T.F.C. Mackay.  1999.  High resolution mapping of quantitative trait loci for sternopleural bristle number in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 152:1585-1604.

Leips, J. and J. Travis.  1994.  Metamorphic responses to changing food levels in two species of hylid frogs. Ecology 75:1345-1356.

Miller, T., D. Cassill, C. Johnson, C. Kindell, Leips J., D. McInnes, T. Bevis, D. Mehlmann, and B. Richard. Intraspecific and interspecific competition of Wyeomyia smithii (Coq.) (Culicidae) in pitcher plant communities. American Midland Naturalist 131:136-145.


National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences
The National Academies

Geneticist Partner: Geneticist-Educator Network of Alliances
American Society of Human Genetics

2010 Carl Weber Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching Award
April 20, 2010
College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, UMBC

2014 University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Teaching
April 2, 2014
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Courses Taught

BIOL 142: Ecology and Evolution (MS)
BIOL 483: Evolution: From Genes to Genomes
BIOL 712: Mentoring in the Sciences
BIOL 760: Graduate Seminar in Ecology and Evolution