I am an evolutionary geneticist, studying the relationship between the genomic and functional machinery of life, the nature and origin of variation that is produced by altering the genome, and the process of adaptation at the phenotypic level. My favorite questions include:
- Why are some aspects of the phenotype more variable than others?
- What is the relationship between variation and adaptation?
- Is evolution predictable?
In my lab, we use Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, as an experimental organism. Flies are wonderful for evolutionary studies because they have interesting and complex adaptations and behaviors, yet are easily and rapidly reared. The major experimental project studies the relationship between development and variation using the wing of Drosophila as a model.
What do we actually do with flies?
- We change the expression of particular genes, and observe
what happens to the phenotype.
- We look for the genomic causes of natural genetic
- We perform artifical selection.
- We do field experiments to look at the real-world
consequences of changing phenotypes.
- We model development to predict what should happen when we
change genes and phenotypes.
Potential Graduate Students
I am looking for students who are interested in addressing fundamental questions about evolution. While we are most active in studying evo-devo in the fly wing, recent projects in the lab include
- the causes of allometry in both flies and true bugs
- the effects of changing wing veins on flight
- whether larval development affects adult form
- whether sexual selection is good for flies
The graduate group in Ecology and Evolution at Florida State is large, active and interactive. The faculty in biology at Florida State complements my interests well, and offers the opportunity for a thorough grounding in evolutionary, population and conservation biology.