864-889-0519 chg@clemson.edu

Director, Clemson University Genomics and Bioinformatics Facility

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Forestry and Environmental Conversation

Visit the Parkinson Lab

Email: viper@clemson.edu

Biosketchchris parkinson

I attended Ohio University for my undergraduate education, earning degrees in Botany and Zoology. I then went on to earn my Ph.D. from the University of Louisville working on snake evolution and systematics.  I carried out postdoctoral work in Jeff Palmer’s lab at Indiana University and at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History with John Wiens.  I spent 17 years at the University of Central Florida and moved to Clemson University in 2017.  I am a Professor in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University.


My team and I utilize genomic approaches to investigate the evolution, conservation, and systematics of vertebrates, although of recent we have started working on the evolution of SARS-CoV2.  I am interested in understanding the evolutionary processes of speciation and venom evolution. I mainly utilize New World venomous snakes as a model system to investigate these areas. Recently, we have started using whole genome sequencing and transcriptomics to investigate the evolution of venom and venom variation.  Dr. Parkinson has carried out fieldwork in over 20 countries and has built numerous, multidimensional collaborations with researchers across the globe and welcomes many more.


 Hofmann EP,  Rautsaw, R.M., Mason AJ,  Strickland, J.L., and C.L. Parkinson. 2021. Duvernoy’s Gland Transcriptomics of the Plains Black-Headed Snake, Tantilla nigriceps (Squamata, Colubridae): Unearthing the Venom of Small Rear-Fanged Snakes. Toxins 13(5) [IF=3.7] https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins13050336

 Holding, M.L., J.L. Strickland , R.M. Rautsaw , E.P. Hofmann , A.J. Mason , M.P. Hogan, G.S. Nystrom, S.A. Ellsworth, T.J. Colston, M. Borja, G. Castañeda-Gaytán, C.I. Grünwald, J.M. Jones, L. Freitas-de-Sousa, V.L. Viala, M.J. Margres, F.G. Grazziotin, I.L.M. Junqueira-de-Azevedo, A.M. Moura-da-Silva, E. Hingst-Zaher, H.L. Gibbs, D.R. Rokyta, C.L. Parkinson. 2021. Phylogenetically diverse diets favor more complex venoms in North American pitvipers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U. S. A. 18 (17)  e2015579118; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2015579118 – [IF=9.4] Media and Press: Clemson Story, Press-News, ScienceBlog, PhysOrg, SciTech daily

 Nachtigall, P.G., R.M. Rautsaw , S.A. Ellsworth , A.J. Mason , D.R. Rokyta, C.L. Parkinson, I.L.M. Junqueira-de-Azevedo. 2021 ToxCodAn: A new toxin annotator and guide to venom gland transcriptomics.  Briefings in Bioinformatics [IF=8.9] https://doi.org/10.1093/bib/bbab095

 Margres, M.J.,  Rautsaw R.M.,  Strickland, J.L.,  Mason, A.J.,  Schramer, T.D.,  Hofmann, E.P.,  Stiers, E., Ellsworth, S.A., Nystrom, G.S., Bartlett, D., Colston, T.J., Gilbert, D.M., Rokyta, D.R. and C.L. Parkinson. 2021.  The Tiger Rattlesnake genome reveals a complex genotype underlying a simple venom phenotype. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U. S. A. – 118:4 e2014634118  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2014634118

 Rautsaw R.M.,  Schramer, T.D.,  Acuña R.,  Arick, L.N.,  Dimeo, M.,  Mercier, K.P.,  Schrum, M.,  Hofmann, E.P.,  Mason, A.J.,  Margres M.J.,  Strickland, J.L., and C.L. Parkinson. 2021 Genomic Adaptations to Salinity Resist Gene Flow in the Evolution of Floridian Watersnakes. Molecular Biology and Evolution – https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msaa266

Bayona-Serrano, J.D., Viala, V.L.,  Rautsaw, R.M.,  Schramer ,T.D., Barros, G., Junior M.Y.N., Sousa, L., Moura-da-Silva, A.M., Parkinson, C.L., Grazziotin, F.G., and I.L.M. Junqueira-de-Azevedo. 2020.  Metalloproteinase replacement and parallel structural simplification maintain venom phenotypes in diverse groups of rear-fanged snakes. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 37, 3563–3575  .  https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msaa192

 Mason A.J.,  Margres, M.J.,  Strickland, J.L., Rokyta, D.R., Sasa, M, and C.L. Parkinson. 2020.  Trait differentiation and modular toxin expression in Palm-Pitvipers. BMC Genomics. 21(1), 1-20.. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-020-6545-9

Reyes-Velasco, J., Adams, R.H., Boissinot, S., Parkinson, C.L., Campbell, J.A., Castoe, T., and E.N. Smith. 2020.  Genome-wide SNPs clarify lineage diversity confused by coloration in coralsnakes of the Micrurus diastema (Serpentes: Elapidae) species complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.147 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106770

 Rautsaw RM,  Hofmann EP,  Margres MJ,  Holding ML,  Strickland JL,  Mason AJ, Rokyta DR, and CL Parkinson. 2019.  Intraspecific sequence variation and gene expression contribute little to venom diversity in the Sidewinder Rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286:20190810. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0810. Note: Featured Cover of the Journal Article.

 Hofmann EP,  Mason AJ, Townsend JH, Galeano CA, Vindel JA, and CL Parkinson. 2019. Natural History: Rhadinella kinkelini (Kinkelin’s Graceful Brown Snake): Reproduction and Range Extension. Herpetological Review 50(2) 402.

 Hofmann EP, Herrera-B. L, Murillo EO, Castro JA,  Mason AJ, CL Parkinson, Townsend JH. 2019.  Rediscovery of the Honduran endemic Diploglossus scansorius (Squamata: Diploglossidae), with description of the first known juvenile specimen from a new locality in north-central Honduras. Phyllomedusa 18(2) 255-258.

 Mason, A. J., Grazziotin, R. A., Zaher, H., Lemmon, A. R., Lemmon, E. M., and C. L. Parkinson. 2019. Reticulate evolution in Nuclear Middle America causes discordance in the phylogeny of palm-pitvipers. Journal of Biogeography 46:833-844. DOI:10.1111/jbi.13542.

 Strickland, J.L., C. Smith, A. Mason , D. Schield, M. Borja , G. Castañeda-Gaytan, C. Spencer, L. Smith, A. Trápaga, N. Bouzid, G. Campillo-García, O. Flores-Villela, D. Antonio-Rangel, S. Mackessy, T. Castoe, D. Rokyta and C.L. Parkinson. 2018.  Evidence for divergent patterns of local selection driving venom variation in Mojave Rattlesnakes (Crotalus scutulatus) Scientific Reports 8:17622. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-35810-9.

 Borja, M., Neri-Castro, E., Pérez-Morales, R.;  Strickland, J.L., Ponce-López, R., Parkinson, C.L., Espinosa-Fematt, J., Sáenz-Mata, J., Flores-Martínez, E., Alagón, A. 2018. Ontogenetic change in the venom of Mexican Black-tailed Rattlesnakes (Crotalus molossus nigrescens). Toxins 10, 501. doi:10.3390/toxins10120501

 Rautsaw, R., M.  Holding, J.L. Strickland , J. Castaneda-Gaytan, F. Garcia-Gonzalez, G. Castaneda-Gaytan, M. Borja-Jimenez , and C.L. Parkinson. 2018. Hypsiglena tanzeri (Tanzer’s Night Snake) Geographic Distribution. Herpetological Review 49(2): 287.

 Hofmann, E., R. Rautsaw , J.L. Strickland , M.L. Holding , M. Hogan , A.J. Mason , D.R. Rokyta and C.L. Parkinson. 2018. Comparative venom-gland transcriptomics and venom proteomics of four Sidewinder Rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes) lineages reveal little differential expression despite individual variation. Scientific Reports 8:15534 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-33943-5.

Dahn, H., J. Strickland , A. Osorio , T. Colston, C.L. Parkinson. 2018.  Hidden diversity within the depauperate genera of the snake tribe Lampropeltini (Serpentes, Colubridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: 129:214-225.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2018.08.018

 Kalkvik, H.M., I.J. Stout, E.A. Hoffman, and C.L. Parkinson. 2018. Colonization and Divergence: Phylogeography and Population Genetics of the Atlantic Coast beach Mice. Systematics and Biodiversity DOI: 10.1080/14772000.2018.1486339.

 Holding, M.L., M.J. Margres, A.J. Mason , C.L. Parkinson and D.R. Rokyta. 2018 Evaluating the performance of de novo assembly methods for venom-gland transcriptomics.  Toxins 10(6) 240; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins10060249.

Schield, D.R., R.H. Adams, D.C. Card, A.B. Corbin, T. Jezkova, N.R. Hales, J.M. Meik, B.W. Perry, C.L. Spencer, L.L. Smith, G. Campillo García,  N.M. Bouzid, J.L.Strickland , C.L. Parkinson, M. Borja, G. Castañeda-Gaytán, R.W. Bryson, Jr, O.A. Flores-Villela, S.P. Mackessy, T.A. Castoe. 2018. Cryptic genetic diversity, population structure, and gene flow in the Mohave rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127:669-681.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2018.06.013.

 Martin, S.A., R.M. Rautsaw , M.R. Bolt, C.L. Parkinson, and R.A. Seigel. 2018.  Estimating the response of wildlife communities to coastal dune construction. Ocean & Coastal Management 161 (1) 31-36.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2018.04.021.

 Strickland, J.L., A.J. Mason , D. Rokyta and C.L. Parkinson. 2018.  Phenotypic variation in Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus) venom is driven by four toxin families. Toxins 10 (4). doi:10.3390/toxins10040135.

 Lawrance, M.F., G. Muthukrishnan , J. Deichen , M. Deichen, J. Schaus, A.M. Cole, and C.L. Parkinson.  2018. Genetic Assessment of Staphylococcus aureus in an Underreported Locale: Ambulatory Care Clinic. Journal of Infection and Public Health 11(5) 648-656. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jiph.2018.04.004. [IF=2.1]

 Rautsaw, R.M., S.A. Martin , K. Lanctot , B. Vincent , M. Rebecca Bolt, R.A. Seigel, C.L. Parkinson. 2018 On the road again: Assessing the use of roadsides as wildlife corridors for Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus). Journal of Herpetology 52 (2) 136-144. Note: Featured

 Rautsaw, R.M., S.A. Martin , B.A. Vincent , K. Lanctot , M.R. Bolt, R.A. Siegel, and C.L. Parkinson. Stopped dead in their tracks: The impact of railways on Testudine movement and behavior. Copeia 2018 (1) 135-143. 2018 Best Student Paper in Herpetology. BioONE Ambassador Award winner.

Borja, M., E. Neri-Castro, G. Castañeda-Gaytán, JL. Strickland, CL. Parkinson, J Castañeda-Gaytán, R. Ponce-López, B. Lomonte, A. Olvera-Rodríguez, A. Alagón, R. Pérez-Morales. 2018.  Biological and proteolytic variation in the venom of Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus from Mexico. Toxins 10(1): doi:10.3390/toxins10010035.

Link to Google Scholar