We are broadly interested in understanding evolution as a creative force. We primarily use experiments with microorganisms and molecules to watch evolution as it happens. We are especially interested in how the potential for adaptive evolution (evolvability) can itself evolve due to mutations that alter mutation rates and genetic interactions. We use molecular systems biology approaches to unravel the dynamics of genetic trajectories and diversity in these laboratory populations, including developing tools for analyzing next-generation DNA sequencing data. We are also beginning to use synthetic biology approaches to manipulate the evolutionary potential of microorganisms by giving them access to new chemical building blocks and routes for genetic change. Our eventual goals are to use what we learn in these model systems to better control evolutionary processes to produce desirable biotechnology solutions and to anticipate and frustrate the evolution of pathogenic microbes and cancers.
Read more about our current Research Interests
August 2014: Graduate student Michael Hammerling is awarded a UT Graduate School Named Continuing Fellowship.
April 2014: Graduate student Gabriel "Gabo" Suarez passes his Part A Exam.
February 2014: Our work evolving bacteriophage T7 on a host with an expanded genetic code is published in Nature Chemical Biology.
July 2013: Graduate student Mike Hammerling's work featured in BEACON blog post.
June 2013: Postdoc Dr. Dan Deatherage's work featured in IDT's DECODED newsletter. Article Link
June 2013: Postdoc Dr. Colin Brown joins the lab.
May 2013: Graduate students Michael Hammerling and Brian Renda pass their Part B Exams and are admitted to candidacy.
April 2013: Graduate student Gabriel Suarez and postdoc Dr. Dennis Mishler join the lab.