About Me

Arslan A. Zaidi

Arslan A. Zaidi

Postdoctoral fellow

University of Pennsylvania


My name is Arslan Zaidi and I’m a statistical geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m interested in understanding how demographic processes such as admixture, population bottlenecks, expansions, non-random mating, and selection shape genetic variation underlying complex traits in humans.

I am from Pakistan, where I completed my undergraduate degree in genetics from the University of Karachi under the advisorship of Dr. Ahsan Vahidy. My graduate work, which I did with Mark Shriver at Penn State, focused on studying the evolutionary genetics of physical traits such as skin pigmentation and 3D facial shape. Then I did a postdoc with Kateryna Makova, also at Penn State, where I studied the transmission dynamics of mitochondrial DNA heteroplasmies in human families, and mito-nuclear interactions in admixed populations. Currently, I’m a postdoc with Iain Mathieson at The University of Pennsylvania. I’m studying how human demographic history and population stratification impact inference in large-scale genome-wide association studies. I am also investigating whether or not (and to what extent) mitochondrial-nuclear epistasis contribute to phenotypic variation in humans.

You can reach me at aazaidi [at] pennmedicine [dot] upenn [dot] edu.


  • Statistical/population genetics
  • Human genetics
  • Complex traits
  • Mitochondrial DNA


  • PhD in Genetics (minor in statistics), 2016

    Penn State University

  • MSc in Genetics, 2009

    University of Karachi

  • BSc in Genetics, 2007

    University of Karachi

Selected publications and preprints

Anova Sahoo S, Zaidi AA, Anagol S, Mathieson I. Long runs of homozygosity are correlated with marriage preferences across global population samples. BioRxiv 2021

Zaidi AA, Mathieson I. Demographic history mediates the effect of stratification on polygenic scores. Elife 2020

Zaidi AA*, Wilton PR*, Su MSW, Paul IM, Arbeithuber B, Anthony K, Nekrutenko A, Nielsen R, Makova KD. Bottleneck and selection in the germline and maternal age influence transmission of mitochondrial DNA in human pedigrees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2019

Zaidi AA, Makova KD. Investigating mito-nuclear interactions in human admixed populations. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2019

Zaidi AA, White JD*, Mattern BC, Liebowitz CR, Puts DA, Claes P, Shriver MD. Facial masculinity does not appear to be a condition-dependent male ornament in humans and does not reflect MHC heterozygosity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019

Ye D*, Zaidi AA*, Tomaszkiewicz M*, Anthony K, Liebowitz C, DeGiorgio M, Shriver MD, Makova KD. High levels of copy number variation of ampliconic genes across major human Y haplogroups. Genome Biology & Evolution. 2018

Claes P, Roosenboom J, White JD, Swigut T, Sero D, Li J, Lee MK, Zaidi AA, Mattern BC, Liebowitz C, Pearson L, González T, Leslie EJ, Carlson JC, Orlova E, Suetens P, Vandermeulen D, Feingold E, Marazita ML, Shaffer JR, Wysocka J, Shriver MD, Weinberg SM. Genome-wide mapping of global-to-local genetic effects on human facial shape. Nature Genetics. 2018

Wilton PR, Zaidi AA, Makova K, Nielsen R. A population phylogenetic view of mitochondrial heteroplasmy. Genetics. 2018 208:1261–1274.

Zaidi AA, Mattern BC, Claes P, McEcoy B, Hughes C, Shriver MD. Investigating the case of human nose shape and climate adaptation. PLOS Genetics. 2017

Claes P, Liberton DK, Daniels K, Rosana KM, Quillen EE, Pearson LN, McEvoy B, Bauchet M, Zaidi AA, Yao W, Tang H, Barsh GS, Absher DM, Puts DA, Rocha J, Beleza S, Pereira RW, Baynam G, Suetens P, Vandermeulen D, Wagner JK, Boster JS, Shriver MD. Modeling 3D Facial Shape from DNA. PLoS Genetics. 2014

You can find a complete list of publications on my Google Scholar page.