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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Mammals

Tarsius bancanus
bar Michael MdGowen
    Michael R. McGowen
    Curator of Marine Mammals

  • Phone: (202)633-1292
  • Fax: (202)786-2832
  • E-mail: mcgowenm[at]

  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 108
    Washington, DC 20013-7012

  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    1000 Constitution Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20004


Ph.D. (Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology): University of California, Riverside, 2010
M.S. (Biology): San Diego State University, 2005
B.A. (Integrative Biology) University of California, Berkeley, 1999

Research Interests

  • Evolution and systematics of marine mammals, especially cetaceans
  • Genomics and molecular evolution of marine mammals
  • Combining morphology and molecules to investigate diversity through time


Weckle, A., McGowen, M. R., Xing, J., Chen, C., Sterner, K. N., Hou, Z. C., Romero, R., and Wildman, D. E. 2017. Ancestral resurrection of anthropoid estrogen receptor beta demonstrates functional consequences of positive selection. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 117: 2-9. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2017.09.007

Armstrong, D. L., McGowen, M. R. [Co-1st Author], Weckle, A., Pantham, P., Caravas, J., Agnew, D., Benirschke, K., Savage-Rumbaugh, S., Nevo, E., Kim, C. J., Wagner, G. P., Romero, R., and Wildman, D. E. 2017. The core transcriptome of mammalian placentas and the divergence of expression with placental shape. Placenta, 57: 71-78. doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2017.04.015

Cammen, K. M., Andrews, K. R., Carroll, E. L., Foote, A. D., Humble, E., Khudyakov, J. I., Louis, M., McGowen, M. R., Olsen, M. T., and Van Cise, A. M.. 2016. Genomic methods take the plunge: Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing of marine mammals. Journal of Heredity, 2016: 481-495. DOI:10.1093/jhered/esw044

Lipovich, L., Hou, Z. C., Jia, H., Sinkler, C., McGowen, M. R., Sterner, K., Weckle, A., Sugalski, A., Pipes, L., Gatti, D., Mason, C., Sherwood, C., Hof, P., Kuzawa, C., Grossman, L., Goodman, M., and Wildman, D. 2016. High-throughput RNA sequencing reveals structural differences of orthologous brain-expressed genes between western lowland gorillas and humans. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 524: 288-308. DOI:10.1002/cne.23843

Tsakgogeorga, G., McGowen, M. R., Davies, K. T. J., Jarman, S., Polanowski, A., Bertelsen, M., and Rossiter, S. J. 2015. A phylogenomic analysis of the role and timing of molecular adaptation in the aquatic transition of cetartiodactyl mammals. Royal Society Open Science, 2(9):150-156. DOI:10.1098/rsos.150156

McGowen, M. R. 2015. A whale of a tale [Review of The Walking Whales by J. G. M. Thewissen]. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 30: 303-304. DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2015.04.001

McGowen, M. R., Gatesy, J., and Wildman, D. E. 2014. Molecular evolution tracks macroevolutionary transitions in Cetacea. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 29: 336-346. DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2014.04.001

Fang, X., 51 authors including McGowen, M. R. 2014. Genome-wide adaptive complexes to underground stresses in the blind mole rats, Spalax. Nature Communications, 5: 3966. DOI:10.1038/ncomms4966

McGowen, M. R., Erez, O., Romero, R., and Wildman, D. E. 2014. The evolution of embryo implantation. International Journal of Developmental Biology, 58: 155-161. DOI:10.1387/ijdb.140020dw

Stempfle, G. S., McGowen, M. R., Caravas, J. A., and Wildman, D. E. 2013. From PPROM to caul: the evolution of fetal membrane rupture in mammals. Applied and Translational Genomics, 2: 70-77. doi:10.1016/j.atg.2013.08.002

Montgomery, S. H., Geisler, J. H., McGowen, M. R., Fox, C., Marino, L., and Gatesy, J. 2013. The evolutionary history of cetacean brain and body size. Evolution, 61: 3339-3353. DOI:10.1111/evo.12197

Sterner, K. N., McGowen, M. R., 13 other authors. 2013. Characterization of human cortical gene expression in relation to glucose utilization. American Journal of Human Biology, 25: 418-430. DOI:10.1002/ajhb.22394

Gatesy, J., Geisler, J. H., Chang, J., Buell, C., Berta, A., Meredith, R. W., Springer, M. S., McGowen, M. R. 2013. A phylogenetic blueprint for a modern whale. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 66: 479-506. DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.10.012

McGowen, M. R., Agnew, D., and Wildman, D. E. 2013. Reproduction and placentation in Neotropical carnivores. In Molecular population genetics, evolutionary biology and conservation of Neotropical carnivores (Ruiz-Garcia M, Shostell, eds), Nova Science, New York.

McGowen, M. R., Grossman, L. I., and Wildman, D. .E. 2012. Dolphin genome provides evidence for adaptive evolution of nervous system genes and a molecular rate slowdown. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279: 3643-3651. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2012.0869

Boddy, A. M., McGowen, M. R., Sherwood, C. C., Grossman, L. I., Goodman, M., and Wildman, D. E. 2012. Comparative analysis of encephalization in mammals reveals relaxed constraints on anthropoid primate and cetacean brain scaling. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25: 981-994. DOI:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02491.x

Dornburg, A., Brandley, M. C., McGowen, M. R, and Near, T. J. 2012. Relaxed clocks and inferences of heterogeneous patterns of nucleotide substitution and divergence time estimates across whales and dolphins (Mammalia: Cetacea). Molecular Biology and Evolution, 29: 721-736. DOI:10.1093/molbev/msr228

Than, N. G., Romero, R., Kim, C. J., McGowen, M. R., Papp, Z., and Wildman, D. E. 2012. Galectins: guardians of eutherian pregnancy at the maternal-fetal interface. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 23: 23-31. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2011.09.003

McGowen, M. R. 2011. Toward the resolution of an explosive radiation—a multilocus phylogeny of oceanic dolphins (Delphinidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 60: 345-357. DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.05.003

Geisler, J. H., McGowen, M. R., Yang, G., and Gatesy, J. 2011. A supermatrix analysis of genomic, morphological, and paleontological data from crown Cetacea. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11: 112. [>100 citations] DOI:10.1186/1471-2148-11-112

McGowen, M. R., Montgomery, S. H., Clark, C., and Gatesy, J. 2011. Phylogeny and adaptive evolution of the brain-development gene microcephalin (MCPH1) in cetaceans. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11: 98. DOI:10.1186/1471-2148-11-98

McGowen, M. R., Spaulding, M., and Gatesy, J. 2009. Divergence date estimation and a comprehensive molecular tree of extant cetaceans. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 53: 891-906. [>200 citations] DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.08.018

Ayoub, N. A., McGowen, M. R., Clark, C., Springer, M., and Gatesy, J. 2009. Evolution and phylogenetic utility of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene (MC1R) in Cetartiodactyla. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 52: 560-567. DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.03.008

McGowen, M. R., Clark, C., and Gatesy, J. 2008. The vestigial olfactory receptor subgenome of odontocete whales: phylogenetic congruence between gene-tree reconciliation and supermatrix methods. Systematic Biology, 57: 574-590. DOI:10.1080/10635150802304787

Kim, S. C., McGowen, M. R., Lubinsky, P., Barber, J. C., Mort, M. E., and Santos-Guerra, A. 2008. Timing and tempo of early and successive adaptive radiations in Macaronesia. PLOS One, 3: e2139. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0002139

Deméré, T. A., McGowen, M. R., Berta, A., and Gatesy, J. 2008. Morphological and molecular evidence for a stepwise evolutionary transition from teeth to baleen in mysticete whales. Systematic Biology, 57: 15-37. [>175 citations] DOI:10.1080/10635150701884632

Deméré, T. A., Berta, A., and McGowen, M. R. 2005. The taxonomic and evolutionary history of fossil and modern balaenopteroid mysticetes. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 12: 99-143. DOI:10.1007/s10914-005-6944-3

McGowen, M. R., Padian, K., De Sosa, M. A., and Harmon, R. J. 2002. Description of Montanazhdarcho minor, an azhdarchid pterosaur from the Two Medicine Formation (Campanian) of Montana. PaleoBios, 22: 1–9.

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