As scientists, we are generally interested in how systems work. But, to understand how they work requires first knowing how they are put together. We can do this for engineered systems because we (i.e. humans) are their 'designer'--we create exquisitely detailed diagrams detailing how each part of a system fits within the schema of the whole. However, what happens when we aren't the designer? This question frames the basis of research in our lab.
'Evolved systems' are systems that emerge as a natural product of the iterative process of variation and selection. These systems (often) are comprised of hundreds to thousands of parts, these parts interact with each other in unintuitive ways, and the complexity of the compendium of interactions is astronomical often precluding experimental study. Thus our lab is motivated by two central questions: (1) What is the 'wiring diagram' of evolved systems? and (2) Why is the wiring diagram the way it is? We hope that answers to these questions will fuel quantitative ways to contextualize variation of evolved systems as well as providing a foundation to engineer natural-like systems de novo.
We are open to addressing these two questions in a variety of ways, spanning theoretical studies focused on developing novel mathematical methods, to genetics and precision medicine efforts, to interrogating systems outside of biology subject to selective forces, all while maintaining a unified goal of understanding an organization of evolved systems. View our publications to learn more.