Dr. Ian Dworkin

What is the overall goal of your research program?

Proximate and ultimate mechanisms of phenotypic evolution
The study of biology is the study of variation, whether with regard to disease, agriculture, or ecology and evolution. Thus understanding how phenotypic variation is generated and the interplay between genetic variation (through mutation) and the environment is essential. Working at the interface of evolutionary and developmental biology we utilize approaches from genetics and genomics to understand how such variation is generated, and the extent to which it can bias the direction and rate of evolutionary responses by examining response to natural and artificial selection. While my lab has used many different organisms, our primary model system is the humble fruit fly, Drosophila.

What would be one of your biggest research highlights?

There has been considerably renewed interest in “resiliency” to potentially disease causing mutations. I think that many people will be interested in our work that examines how mutations can have different phenotypic effects among individuals (variable expressivity) depending on the genetic background (the rest of the genome) that the mutation is situated in. Some of our recent work (Chandler et al. 2017, Chari and Dworkin 2013, Chandler et al. 2013, Chandler et al. 2014) demonstrates that different wild type strains show very different degrees of resiliency to mutations in the Drosophila. Our current work has demonstrated that natural populations segregate alleles that in aggregate can suppress even some of the most severe mutational effects.

How can we find out more information about the research you do?

I  tweet about science @IanDworkin (url https://twitter.com/IanDworkin). I also enjoy various forms of public outreach including blogging. You can check out my blog, Genes Gone Wild (url http://genesgonewild.blogspot.com/). I post about a variety of topics, but in particular about genetics, and about making the process of scientific discovery more open and collaborative (and hopefully more productive and efficient).

For specific information about the ongoing research in my lab, my lab website (url https://www.msu.edu/~idworkin/) is a great place to go. I also maintain my google scholar page which links to my papers and collaborators (url http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=Iium3AEAAAAJ&hl=en).

What are your main interests outside of research?

I try to spend as much time as possible outside as I can, in particular with my children (so the escarpment is a big plus of the Hamilton area). I also happen to love vegetable gardening, pickling and eating. Plus I am huge science fiction movie junkie, the more terrible the movie, the better!