Faculty Database:
[ PhD Program: Evolutionary Biology Keyword: ]

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NameEmailPhd ProgramResearch InterestsPublications
Burch, Christina email , , , , , publications

Experimental Evolution of Viruses.  We use both computational and experimental approaches to understand how viruses adapt to their host environment.  Our research attempts to determine how genome complexity constrains adaptation, and how virus ecology and genetics interact to determine whether a virus will shift to utilizing new host.  In addition, we are trying to develop a framework for predicting which virus genes will contribute to adaptation in particular ecological scenarios such as frequent co-infection of hosts by multiple virus strains.  For more information, and for advice on applying to graduate school at UNC, check out my lab website www.unc.edu/~cburch/lab.

Dangl, Jeff email , , , , , , , publications

We use the premier model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana, and real world plant pathogens like the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae and the oomycete Hyaloperonospora parasitica to understand the molecular nature of the plant immune system, the diversity of pathogen virulence systems, and the evolutionary mechanisms that influence plant-pathogen interactions. All of our study organisms are sequenced, making the tools of genomics accessible.

Jones, Corbin email , , , , , , publications

The goal of my research is to identify, clone, and characterize the evolution of genes underlying natural adaptations in order to determine the types of genes involved, how many and what types of genetic changes occurred, and the evolutionary history of these changes. Specific areas of research include: 1) Genetic analyses of adaptations and interspecific differences in Drosophila, 2) Molecular evolution and population genetics of new genes and 3) Evolutionary analysis of QTL and genomic data.

Juliano, Jonathan email , , , , publications

Despite recent success in reducing malaria transmission, the estimated annual numbers of malaria infections (~225 million) and deaths (~781,000) remain high. Despite this immense burden, our understanding of the genetic diversity of malaria and the factors that promote this diversity is limited.  This diversity among plasmodial parasites has a critical impact on many factors involved in the control of infections, including: 1) development of drug resistance, 2) development of naturally acquired immunity, and 3) vaccine design.  My laboratory’s primary interests are: 1) describing the genetic diversity of P. falciparum using molecular biological and next generation sequencing tools, and 2) using these data to understand the evolutionary and ecological factors that drive this diversity, promote the emergence of drug resistance and affect our ability to effectively develop immunity.

Miller, Laura email , , , , , publications

Miller’s research group focuses on topics in integrative biophysics: physics applied to biology at the level of cells to organisms. In particular, the group is interested in the role of fluid forces during locomotion and morphogenesis. One ongoing project is focused on understanding the aerodynamics of flight in the smallest insects. Another current project investigates the role of fluid forces during the development of the embryonic vertebrate heart.

Mitchell, Charles email , , , , publications

My work focuses on the role of plant pathogens in (A) controlling or facilitating biological invasions by plants, (B) structuring plant communities, and (C) modulating the effects of global change on terrestrial ecosystems.  My group works on viruses, bacteria, and fungi that infect wild plants, chiefly grasses and other herbaceous species. Ultimately, I am interested in the implications of these processes for the sustainable provisioning of ecosystem services and for the conservation of biological diversity.

Peet, Robert email , , , , publications

My research focuses on plant community ecology and such related fields as plant geography, conservation biology, ecoinformatics and plant population ecology. I am particularly interested in how plant communities are assembled and vary across landscapes.   Toward this end I am helping define the emerging discipline of ecoinformatics through development of international databases and standards for large-scale data integration and exchange.  My current research on the vegetation of the Southeastern United States includes on-going studies of the long-term dynamics of Southeastern forests, human impacts on floodplain ecosystems, targets for restoration, and more generally factors influencing the composition and species diversity of terrestrial plant communities across a range of spatial scales.

Swanstrom, Ronald email , , , , , , publications

First, we study the complex HIV-1 population that exists within a person.  We use this complexity to ask questions about viral evolution, transmission, compartmentalization, and pathogenesis.  Second, we are exploring the impact of drug resistance on viral fitness and identifying new drug targets in the viral protein processing pathway.  Third, we participate in a collaborative effort to develop an HIV-1 vaccine.  Fourth, we are using mutagenesis to determine the role of RNA secondary structure in viral replication.

Valdar, William email , , , , publications

We are a quantitative genetics lab interested the relationship between genes and complex disease. Most of our work focuses on developing statistical and computational techniques for the design and analysis of genetic experiments in animal models. This includes, for example: Bayesian hierarchical modeling of gene by drug effects in crosses of inbred mouse strains; statistical methods for identifying quantitative trait loci (QTL) in a variety of experimental mouse populations (including the Collaborative Cross); computational methods for optimal design of studies on parent of origin effects; modeling of diet by gene by parentage interactions that affecting psychiatric disease; detection and estimation of genetic effects on phenotypic variability. For more information, visit the lab website.

Vision, Todd email , , , , , , publications

Our lab uses computational and molecular tools to study the evolution of genome organization, primarily in the flowering plants. Areas of
investigation include the origin and consequences of differences in gene order within populations and between species, the evolutionary and functional diversification of gene families (phytome.org), and the application of genomics to evolutionary model organisms (mimulusevolution.org).  We also are involved in a number of cyberinfrastructure initiatives through the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (nescent.org), including work on digital scientific libraries (datadryad.org), open bioinformatic software development (e.g. gmod.org) and the application of semantic web technologies to biological data integration (phenoscape.org).

Willett, Christopher email , , , , publications

My lab concentrates on studying the molecular genetic basis of the evolutionary processes of adaptation and speciation. The questions we ask are what are the sequence changes that lead to variation between species and diversity within species, and what can these changes tell us about the processes that lead to their evolution. We use a number of different techniques to answer these questions, including molecular biology, sequence analyses (i.e. population genetics and molecular evolution techniques), physiological studies, and examinations of whole-organism fitness. Currently work in the lab has focused on a intertidal copepod species that is an excellent model for the initial stages of speciation (and also provides opportunities to study how populations of this species adapt to their physical environment).