Dr. Thompson's research interest is in the development of methods for inference from genetic data, and particularly from data observed on large and complex pedigree structures. Questions of interest range from analyses of long-term gene frequency differentiation in widely dispersed populations, to short-term extinction of genes in the small population of a highly endangered species; from inference of genealogical relationships among individuals to inference of the genetic basis of traits from data observed on members of a known pedigree; and from analyses of patterns of genome sharing in plants to modern methods for human linkage analysis. In recent years, several of these questions have been addressed using Monte Carlo likelihood.
In connection with her genetic research, Dr. Thompson has several longterm research collaborations at other Universities, including University of Utah (1976, 1978, 1986, 1988), University of Michigan (1975, 1977, 1988, 1994), Rutgers University (1992, 1995) and McGill University (1995). Her main editorial service has been as Associate Editor of Genetics (1987-92), Biometrics (Shorter Communications) (1993-1996), and Annals of Statistics (1994-2003).
From 1994-1997 she was a member of the NRC Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics ( CATS), and from 1998-2000 a member of the Council of the International Statistical Institute (ISI). She is a member of the NISS Board of Trustees (2001-2003), and of the PIMS (2002-2005) and then BIRSScientific Advisory Boards (2005-2008).
She has always been an active member of the Biometric Society, first serving as a member of the British Region Committee in 1984-5. From 1997-1999, she served on the Executive Committee of West North American Region (WNAR) and was President in 1998. She is a member of the Council of the International Biometric Society, 2006-2013.
Since 1987, Dr. Thompson has held NSF grants in Population Biology (1987-90), Conservation Biology (1990-93) and Computational Biology (1993-97 and 1998-2002). She was also a member of the Program in Mathematics and Molecular Biology (PMMB) from 1994 to 2005; this was an inter-University consortium which funded fellowships, studentships, and funding in member labs. Originally funded by NSF, from 1/1/1997 PMMB was a Burroughs Wellcome Interfaces in Science program, with the mission to recruit and train students from the mathematical sciences in cross-disciplinary work in mathematical molecular biology. At UW, Dr. Thompson was an active participant in the QERM interdisciplinary program from 1990-2002, and from from 1999-2002 she was also a member of the interdisciplinary faculty group in Computational Molecular Biology. From 1995 to 2007 she participated in the Mathematical Biology Fellows program organized through the Zoology (now Biology) Department.
Since 1999, Dr. Thompson's focus has been the development of research and education in Statistical Genetics at the University of Washington. Since 2000, she has been one of the faculty of the NIH-funded Genome Training Grant, which since Fall 2000 has provided support for some Statistical Genetics students. There is more information on the development of Statistical Genetics Programs at the University of Washington either at this current web site, or, for those within UW, at our new one..
Starting in 1989, jointly with Dr. Ellen Wijsman, she coordinated the Statistical Genetics discussion seminar, and since 1991, working with Dr. Wijsman, has held an NIH grant in the Genetic Epidemiology of Complex Traits. In September 2000, her IMS monograph on modern methods of Pedigree Analysis was published: this monograph was the foundation of methodology for the NIH grant at that time. After 17 years, in 2008, the NIH Grant was converted by the NIGMS Council to an R37 MERIT AWARD.