How did the incredible diversity of living organisms on Earth arise and what principles have shaped this history? How do organisms adapt to specific environmental conditions or fluctuations in those conditions? It's these types of questions, and many others, that are being asked by evolutionary biologists in our department. Whether empirically or theoretically based, integrating from the microscopic sub-cellular levels of genes and genomes to those of entire populations and/or species is a hallmark of our department's approach to evolutionary research.
Our evolutionary biology faculty
Felipe S. Barreto
My research examines how marine species adapt and diversify across environmental gradients. We quantify how evolutionary forces of natural selection, genetic drift, and migration shape the genomes of populations in the process of adaptation.
Molly K. Burke
My group is generally interested in fundamental questions in genetics and evolution, which we test using controlled laboratory experiments. How do populations adapt to long-term environmental stresses? How does evolution shape complex traits, such as aging and fertility? Can we predict the course of future evolution? To address these and other questions, we primarily use the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast). Current projects in the lab integrate approaches in molecular biology, microbiology, and genomics. Please visit my lab's website for details.
Kathryn M. Everson
Members of our lab work on a variety of natural systems to understand how life on Earth evolves. Our research often addresses how species are related to one another (phylogenetics), how their evolutionary history has been shaped by landscape features (phylogeography) or ecology (molecular ecology), and how they are impacted by inter-species hybridization.
The Forsythe Lab uses molecular evolution as a tool to understand the genetic interactions that underlie cellular function. This work includes developing new bioinformatic tools capable of predicting genome-wide interaction networks (i.e. the protein-protein interactome) from publicly available genome sequences. Funded research in the lab is largely focused on plant genome evolution, but our research bridges taxa and we have active projects probing molecular evolution in plants, animals, and bacteria.
His research explores how animals make sense of vast quantities of information and use it to make adaptive decisions, including learning and innate behaviors. He also studies how an animal's decision-making impacts the evolution of other species, as well as how adaptation and behavior create feedbacks with ecology. He focuses on predator-prey systems, communication, and social learning.
David A. Lytle
Our lab uses evolutionary ecology to understand how organisms and communities are shaped by disturbances such as floods, droughts, and dams. Much of our focus is on aquatic insects, but lab members also work on projects involving fish, frogs, and riparian plants. Current projects examine the evolution of species in regulated rivers, population dynamics and biodiversity estimation in desert streams, management of dammed rivers with prescribed flow regimes, and theory of interaction-neutral community models.
Christopher J. Marshall
My research area (Taxonomy and Systematics) is a cornerstone of evolutionary biology. Through comparative methods, I infer phylogenetic relationships among taxa that serves to inform both their taxonomic classifications and our understanding of evolutionary and biogeographic histories.
Mark A. Phillips
My work uses model systems to study microevolutionary processes at a fundamental level. In particular, I am interested in the underlying genetics of adaptation and the factors that determine whether or not populations will persist in the face of changing environmental conditions.
Rebecca C. Terry
Research in the Terry Lab explores macroevolutionary themes through the analysis of the fossil record. Specific areas of interest include morphological change over time and links between specialization, species duration, and extinction.