Opportunities for Undergrads, Master’s Students, and Ph.D. Students
My group uses computers and a bit of math to understand fundamental questions about how evolution works. We’re particularly interested in the kinds of rapid evolution you see in viruses and bacteria, both in the lab and out in nature. If you want to help understand how viruses evolve to infect new hosts or escape the immune system, or how bacteria evolve antibiotic resistance, then you might be interested in joining our ongoing research projects.
Right now we’re working on:
- Understanding how evolution deals with random chance in gene expression. This project uses evolutionary experiments with a computer simulation of gene expression in populations of cells. There’s opportunity here to learn about programming complex models, experimental design, and the emerging field called ‘systems biology.’ The first paper in the project just came out in Evolution; take a look here.
- Every virus has a host-range–the set of species and cell types that it can infect. Host ranges can evolve rapidly, and sometimes when they do we get new diseases like SARS and H5N1. We’re studying how natural selection might favor the evolution of broader host ranges in hopes of better understanding the risks of new diseases emerging. This work also helps understand chronic diseases like AIDS, as well as the role of viruses in shaping biodiversity.
- We’re also studying a bunch of angles on how complex adaptations come about through evolution. If you’ve ever wondered just how a process as simple as mutation + natural selection can result in the amazing and precise adaptations we see in nature–well, so have I! My past publications have taken several approaches to this question, all using computer simulations to probe how evolution works in diverse populations. There’s plenty more to do.
In my lab you’ll learn how to think about evolution, as well as how to understand and use models to answer questions. You’ll also sharpen you skills with programming (or learn it from scratch, if you’re motivated to) and also with writing about and presenting science.
Send me an email at jdraghi (at) gmail (dot) com or jeremy (dot) draghi21 (at) brooklyn (dot) cuny (dot) edu if you’re interested.