Research & Scholarly Activities

Current research foci:

1. Mitochondrial dysfunction and selfish evolutionary dynamics:

  • transmission dynamics of deletion-bearing mitchondrial DNA (mtDNA) in C. briggsae
  • evolutionary causes and consequences of selfish DNA in C. briggsae
  • evolution of mtDNA copy number in C. elegans
  • mutational and phenotypic impacts of endogenous oxidative stress in C. elegans mutants with dysfunctional mitochondria
  • the role of heteroplasmy in mtDNA evolution

2. Compensatory mutation and the experimental evolution of adaptation:

  • genome-wide surveys for compensatory mutation in C. elegans recovery line systems
  • experimental evolution of resistance to external sources of oxidative stress in C. elegans

3. Nematode biodiversity and phylogenetics:

  • uncovering cryptic genetic diversity in Xiphinema plant-parasitic ("dagger") nematodes
  • high-throughput sequencing of complete mitochondrial genomes in Caenorhabditis nematodes
  • discovery of new nematode species and strains in unusual environments

4. Evolutionary genetics and genomics in sea anemones:

  • investigating accelerated evolutionary rates in selfish genes occupying anemone mitochondrial genomes
  • development of Aiptasia as a model anemone system for evolutionary analysis
  • natural variation in Anthopleura elegentissima anemone populations on the Oregon coast

5. The intersection of Eastern Philosophy (especially Madhyamaka) and scientific perspectives.