Kimberly Olney

Research Technician
University Staff
TEMPE Campus

Student Information

Graduate Student
Evolutionary Biology
The College of Lib Arts & Sci


Kimberly Olney is an evolutionary and computational biologist, trained in the biology of gene expression. Kimberly received her Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences from Arizona State University in 2013. As an Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. student, Kimberly is developing bioinformatics tools and reproducible computational pipelines that accurately infer genetic variation. Kimberly is applying these tools to comprehensively characterize patterns of gene expression across human tissue types to better understand the mechanism underlying sex-differences in gene regulation. This information is crucial to understand sex-differences in human development and sex-differences in disease susceptibility. 


  • 2016-Present     Ph.D., Evolutionary Biology, Arizona State University
  • 2008-2013          B.S., Biological Sciences, Arizona State University 

Google Scholar

Research Interests

Gene regulation, genetics, computational biology, evolution, sex-chromosomes

Genetic males and females share highly similar genomes, only differing in the sex chromosomes, yet males and females are morphologically and physiologically very distinct. Perhaps surprisingly, most sex-differential genes are not on the sex chromosomes (XY), suggesting that sexual dimorphism in aspects of human biology, such as development, physiology, metabolism, susceptibility to disease, and wound healing, develops through sex-specific gene regulation. Advancing technology: Current approaches for detecting gene expression and allelic imbalance expression are confounded by technical variance inherent in RNA-seq data. The methods I am working on statistically models technical variation in the sequencing data to avoid false positives. Contribution to Science: I am characterizing patterns of sex-differential gene expression to provide an important reference for healthy patterns of sex-differential transcription in early development placenta tissues. Education: These results will be central to our understanding of sex-differential regulatory variation, epigenetic modification, and mechanisms responsible for sexual dimorphism. The benefit to humanity: The computational pipelines that I develop will be publically available, enabling other researchers to generate directly comparable results and further expand our understanding of molecular sexual dimorphism in an array of biological scenarios. 


4) Olney KC, Nyer D, Wilson Sayres MA, Haynes K. “Activation of tumor suppressor genes in breast cancer with a synthetic chromatin effector.” bioRxiv, September 7, 2017. doi:10.1101/186056. 

3) Wilson Sayres MA, [and 30 others], Olney KC, McWilliams M, Pauley MA. “Bioinformatics Core Competencies for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education.” bioRxiv, August 3, 2017. doi:10.1101/170993. (Accepted with minor revisions to PLOS ONE)

2) Olney KC, Narang P, Taravella AM, Webster TH, Wilson Sayres MA.  
“EvSex16: Evolutionary Genomics of Sex.” Journal of Heredity, October 30, 2017. doi:10.1093/jhered/esx084     

1) Rupp S, Webster H, Olney KC, Hutchins E, Kusumi K, Wilson Sayres MA. “Evolution of dosage compensation in Anolis carolinensis, a reptile with XX/XY chromosomal sex determination”. Genome Biology and Evolution 2016; doi: 10.1093/gbe/evw26.


Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 498Pro-Seminar
EVO 598Special Topics
BIO 598Special Topics
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 498Pro-Seminar
EVO 598Special Topics
BIO 598Special Topics
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
MBB 355Intro to Computation Molec Bio
MAT 355Intro to Computation Molec Bio
BIO 355Intro to Computation Molec Bio