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Population Genomics of microorganisms and their hosts in health and disease People

Omar E. Cornejo (PI)

Population geneticist interested in the evolutionary processes that shape the interaction of hosts and microbes

I am a Venezuelan/American Latino and the first of my family to obtain a PhD. My career is dedicated to answering fundamental questions on the evolution of microbes and humans from a population genetics and functional genomics perspective.

I grew up in Venezuela in a multi-racial family and moved to USA to pursue an academic career as a young adult. I obtained a BS in Biology at Universidad Simon Bolivar, in Caracas, Venezuela, and then completed a MS at the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research), working on Plasmodium phylogenetic analysis with Dr. Ananias Escalante. I received my PhD from Emory University (Atlanta, USA), where I worked with Dr. Bruce R. Levin, on the impact of horizontal gene transfer and homologous recombination in the evolution of microbes.

I see academia as a place where individuals have the opportunity to dream of a better world and find the tools to make those dreams real. I work actively to increase the representation of non-white minorities and women in higher education, academia, and STEM careers. Nationally and internationally I facilitate the training of future scientists and students from all backgrounds. For example, I am a core faculty of the Latin American Network for Conservation Genetics (REGENEC), an organization that was created in 2004 with the ultimate goal of training Latin American scientists (PhD students and postdocs) in multiple aspects of conservation biology. I am privileged to be in a position where I can help others achieve their goals and help them build a place within the science community.

​When I am not doing research I enjoy time with my family, cooking, baking bread (an acquired trait from COVID times), jogging and hiking.

Google Scholar

e-mail: omar.cornejo(at)


2020 – Present: Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University
2013 – 2020: Assistant Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University
2013 – Present: Affiliated Assistant Professor, Paul Allen School of Global Animal Health, Washington State University
2010 – 2013: Postdoctoral Scholar Stanford University
2009 – 2010: Postdoctoral Fellow Cornell University

Full CV.