We work on the evolution of development at multiple levels of biological organization and scale. We study the evolutionary origins and modern functions of the genes that govern cell fate decisions during animal development. We often focus on cell types that drive the evolutionary process in most multicellular organisms: the germ cells, that produce gametes, and the gonads, which house the gametes.
Because we cannot understand evolution by studying a single organism, we use many different model organisms, most of which are insects, including Drosophila melanogaster and many other species of Drosophila fruit flies. Sometimes this means we develop or improve new model organisms for functional genetic analysis in the lab.
We also employ a wide range of experimental and theoretical approaches, because we wish to understand evolution from the perspective of the gene, the protein, the cell, the organs, the organism, and the ecological context. Current and previous lab members have brought expertise in genetics, microscopy, biochemistry, bioinformatics, molecular evolution, developmental and cellular biology, and behavioural ecology to our group. We are always interested in team members who will bring new lenses of inquiry.
Below are brief descriptions of the main areas of past and current research, and examples of how we’ve communicated our findings to scientists (publications in scientific journals) and non-scientists (various forms of media interaction).