Vishnupriya Kolipakam, Ph.D.


Vishnupriya Kolipakam, Ph.D.
vishnupriya [at] wii [dot] gov [dot] in

I am a population geneticist with a strong interest in Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Anthropology and Conservation Genetics. For my PhD from Max Planck Institute (Nijmegen), I looked at incorporating information on genes, language and culture in a consilient framework towards a holistic approach to understanding pre-history. I used population genetic modelling, coalescent simulations, forward simulation techniques and phylogenetics to understand the pre-history of Polynesian and Dravidian Societies.

My research interests are largely interdisciplinary, working at the interface of evolutionary biology, anthropology and conservation biology. I worked on the mitochondrial DNA stratigraphy of Islands of Southeast Asia  (University of Leeds, United Kingdom), population genetics of northeastern hill tribes, and molecular ecology of large carnivores(National Centre for Biological Sciences , Bangalore), and the anthropological and evolutionary nature of perceptions of human wildlife conflict in semi-arid areas of India, (Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science). I have been associated with the “Monitoring Tigers, Co-Predators, Prey and their Habitat” project here at the Wildlife Institute. My role was to lead the genetic component of the project, wherein we used molecular techniques to understand the genetic diversity of large carnivores across the country. I continue to contribute to this aspect of the project. I am currently associated with projects investigating the population genetic structure of large carnivores, characterization of genetic diversity of Asiatic lions, and population genetic characteristics and phylogeography of the Gangetic river dolphin.

My interest lies in exploring the evolutionary trajectories of biological systems, adaptive functions and their consequences, and the use of this information in making scientifically sound conservation interventions.


Evolutionary Biology, Population Genetics, Phylogenetics, Molecular Anthropology

Selected list of publications:

  • Kolipakam, V., Jordan, F.M., Dunn, M., Greenhill, S.M., Bouckaret, M., Gray, R., Verkertk, A.V. (2018). A Bayesian Phylogenetic Study of the Dravidian Language Family. Royal Society Open Science. 5(3):171504
  • Maroju, PA., Yadav, S., Kolipakam, V., Singh, S., Qureshi, Q., Jhala, YV . (2016). Schrodinger's Scat : A critical review of the currently available tiger (Panthera tigris) and leopard (Panthera pardus) specific primers in India, and a novel leopard specific primer. BMC Genetics. 17:37
  • Kolipakam V., et al., (2016). Non-invasive genetic sampling to assess minimum tiger numbers and genetic structure. In Jhala Y, Qureshi Q & Gopal R (eds) “The status of tigers, co-predators & prey in India, 2014. National Tiger Conservation Authority, New Delhi & Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. TR2015/021.
  • O'Connor L & Kolipakam V (2014). Human migration, dispersals and contacts in South America. In: Muysken P and O'Conner L (eds) The Native Languages of South America: Origins, development, typology. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.