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Eva Top
Professor; Director of BCB

My research is currently focused on the evolution and ecology of plasmids that transfer to and replicate in a broad range of bacteria. Plasmids are mobile genetic elements found in most bacteria. Because they readily transfer between different types of bacteria under natural conditions, they play an important role in rapid bacterial adaptation to changing environments. A good example is the current epidemic of multiple antibiotic resistance in human pathogens, which is largely due to the spread of multi-drug resistance plasmids. Although plasmid-mediated gene transfer is now recognized as a key mechanism in the alarming rise of antibiotic resistance, little is known about their host range, their ability to invade bacterial populations in the absence of selection, and their genetic diversity. We are addressing these questions using various Proteobacteria and plasmids as model systems.

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Celeste Brown
Research Associate Professor

Dr. Celeste Brown has two research areas, how gene regulation changes in response to selection, and the evolution of disordered proteins. The link between these two disparate areas is that often proteins involved in gene regulation are disordered. The gene regulation studies involve laboratory-based research and the disordered protein studies involve bioinformatics approaches.

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Erkan Buzbas
Assistant Professor

My research involves theoretical modeling of evolutionary phenomena at the population level and development and applications of computational statistical methods to perform inference about evolutionary phenomena using population genetic data. I maintain a broad interest in statistical theory and philosophy of statistics, evolutionary theory, and complex systems.

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Larry Forney
University Distinguished Professor

The research done in Dr. Larry Forney’s laboratory centers on the diversity and distribution of prokaryotes. Both field and laboratory studies are done to explore the temporal and spatial patterns of community diversity, as well as factors that influence the dynamics of inter- and intra-species competition. In addition research is done to understand how spatial structure and the resulting environmental gradients influence the tempo and trajectory of adaptive radiations in bacterial species and the maintenance of diversity. Most of these studies are highly interdisciplinary in nature, and done in collaboration with mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, geologists, environmental engineers, physicians, and clinical scientists.

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James Foster

Dr. Foster’s current research is focused on characterizing evolutionarily permissible ecological structures in microbial ecosystems and on developing bioinformatics for very large sequence datasets. He continues to examine simulations of evolutionary processes to design complex artifacts and optimize functions. He works in close collaboration with biologists, statisticians, mathematicians, and computer scientists.

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Peter G. Fuerst
Assistant Professor

My lab is attempting to identify and understand the molecular cues that promote development of the nervous system by studying mice that have mutations in recognition factors and that express fluorescent markers that label specific neural cell types.

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Frank Gao

Research Interests: Interface of Probability Theory, Functional Analysis and Convex Geometry. In particular, small deviations of Gaussian processes; metric entropy of function spaces and operators; and intrinsic volumes of convex bodies.

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Luke Harmon
Associate Professor

Our research investigates ecological and evolutionary aspects of adaptive radiations. Current projects span a wide range of taxa and time scales, including adaptive radiation in E. coli biofilms, evolution of island lizards in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, and macroevolutionary dynamics of vertebrates. You will find more information about all of these projects on the research and publications pages.

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Robert Heckendorn
Associate Professor

Robert works with anything that evolves. His research has included bioinformatics work in phylogenetics, new methods of Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling, and the simulation of the geneics of the onset of breast cancer. He is currently working on evolutionary approaches to agent based simulations of international conflict and the cooperative behavior of swarms of thousands of robots.

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Paul Hohenlohe
Assistant Professor

Our research focuses on the genomic architecture of evolving populations, developing sophisticated theory and analytical tools to harness the power of modern DNA sequencing technology. We address basic questions of evolutionary biology as well as applications to conservation and cancer biology.

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Hasan Jamil
Associate Professor

Research Area: Large scale data management and exploitation

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Paul Joyce
Dean of College of Science & Professor

My research focuses on developing and rigorously testing statistical methods and stochastic models to describe genetic phenomena. These include models and methods to: predict how viruses adapt; show the effect of antibiotic resistance genes encoded on plasmids; predict ancestral relationships among species; and to understand the ecological structure of bacterial communities in biofilms. This broad focus has lead to collaborations with researchers in phylogenetics, population genetics, theoretical ecology, mircobial ecology, experimental evolution, conservation genetics, and the list is growing.

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Steve Krone

Research interests: Stochastic Processes and Mathematical Biology; especially interacting particle systems, population genetics and evolutionary biology, coalescent theory, spatial models in (microbial) ecology and epidemiology, combining experimental and theoretical approaches, diffusion processes and differential equations.

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Stephen Sauchi Lee
Associate Professor

Research interests: Applied Statistics, Statistical Computing, Machine Learning, Data Mining, Data Science.

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Chris Marx
Associate Professor

My research interests are at the intersection of microbial physiology and evolution, and span from experimental and computational approaches. On one hand, we use experimental evolution as a tool to uncover novel genes and functions. On the other, we apply systems-level models of metabolism to try to predict genetic interactions, optimal phenotypes, and evolutionary outcomes of evolving populations.

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Craig Miller
Research Assistant Professor

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Scott Nuismer

My research focuses on the ecology and evolution of species interactions. The overall aim is to better understand how coevolution shapes patterns of biodiversity and the geographic distributions of interacting species. Work in my lab addresses these issues with a combination of mathematical modeling and field studies.

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Christine Parent
Assistant Professor

Research in the Parent lab centers on the evolutionary process of diversification in lineages exposed to novel environment. Our general approach is to (1) observe present-day patterns of biodiversity to infer past evolutionary processes, and (2) test those processes with manipulative experiments in laboratory populations. We use field observations, comparative analyses, laboratory experiments, molecular phylogenetics, and integrate them with theoretical modeling. Island systems (natural or experimental) are the main focus of our research attention.

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Chris Remien
Assistant Professor

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in mathematical biology, developing and applying mathematical techniques to answer important biological questions. Much of my research uses mathematical methods to analyze how animals process nutrients and toxins with applications in medicine and ecology. I have applied mathematical methods to issues as diverse as acetaminophen (paracetamol, Tylenol) overdose, incorporation of stable isotopes into animal tissues, and microbial detoxification of ingested toxins in mammals. The mathematics are diverse, including dynamical systems, bifurcation theory, probability, inverse methods, statistics, numerical analysis, and simulations.

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Ben Ridenhour
Assistant Research Professor

Research in the Ridenhour lab is focused around understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of infectious diseases. We are particularly interested in understanding disease transmission and evolution in hopes of discovering improved methods of controlling epidemics on the local scale and the pandemic scale.

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Barrie Robison
Associate Professor

My general research interests lie at the interface between genomics, evolutionary biology, and fisheries biology. Specific areas of research emphasis in my lab include the genetic architecture of complex traits, the evolution of locally adaptive phenotypes, and genomic analysis of behavioral variation in fish. I employ two study systems to investigate these issues, the rainbow trout and the zebrafish.

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Terry Soule

Research Areas: Evolutionary computation, biological modeling

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Jack Sullivan
Professor; Director of IBEST

Our understanding of the processes of nucleotide substitution (DNA sequence evolution) has been expanding greatly over the last 10 years. Furthermore, it has become apparent that ignoring such processes as heterogeneity of base composition, substitution pattern, and rate variation among nucleotide sites can compromise attempts to estimate phylogeny from DNA sequence data. Therefore, model-based analyses of DNA sequence data have become increasingly wide spread because such approaches afford the investigator the opportunity to account for such processes explicitly.

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David Tank
Associate Professor and Director, Stillinger Herbarium

I am a plant systematist and am broadly interested in the investigation of the patterns and processes that shape plant biodiversity. In general, my research is focused on the use of molecular methods to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships in plants and the application of phylogenetic methods to understand plant evolution. The evolutionary causes and consequences of processes such as hybridization, polyploidy, pollination biology, biogeography, rapid diversification, and niche evolution can only be understood in light of a robust phylogenetic hypothesis, and these hypotheses are a necessary component of modern taxonomic treatments and classification systems. Research in my lab is directed at multiple levels of plant phylogeny and current projects range from comparative phylogeography of the Pacific Northwest inland rainforest communities, to the study of species boundaries and diversification among very closely related species, to patterns of diversification among some of the major lineages comprising the plant tree of life.

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Andreas Vasdekis
Assistant Professor

Biophysics of environmental and energy processes. Approach is based on single cell and single molecule methods using microfluidics and optofluidics, as well as biological imaging and sensing.

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Holly Wichman
University Distinguished Professor

The Wichman Lab studies viruses and their subcellular relatives, transposable elements. These two lines of research are united by a molecular approach and a strong evolutionary context. L1 elements have been active in mammals for over 150 million years and make up about 20% of the genome. Most of the copies in the genome are ancient molecular fossils, so it is a challenge to sift through all of the old copies to find those that have been recently active.

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Michelle Wiest
Associate Professor

Michelle’s research interests lie in epidemiological and biostatistical methods. Her work includes developing multivariate diagnostic and prognostic tools for evaluation of metabolic status, study design for nutrition interventions, and evaluation of risk factors for mining injuries. She plays a large role in supporting research across UI as a statistical consultant and in training master’s level statistics students in consulting.

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Christopher Williams
Department Chair Mathematics & Statistical Science, Statistics Professor, and Professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Research interests: statistical genetics, biostatistics, statistical methods applied to issues in natural resources, analysis of human twin data, estimation of disease prevalence.

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Marty Ytreberg
Associate Professor

Developing computational methods for proteins and using these approaches to understand the underlying biophysical mechanisms that define protein structure, function and evolution.

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