At one level, evolution is remarkably simple, with just a few concepts ? mutation, recombination, random drift and natural selection ? that underlie the overall process. Yet this description obscures many issues that make evolution a fascinating area for study. Evolution typically involves many genes and often revolves around interactions between individuals and their environments. Moreover, genes interact with one another and with the environment in a nonlinear fashion, resulting in complex phenotypes and evolutionary dynamics. My work aims to describe and analyze such interactions with experimental and quantitative rigor. Specifically work in my lab aims to address the fundamental question about the mechanistic basis of observed phenotypic variation. That is, how genetic (and environmental) variation modulate developmental processes and ultimately influence phenotypic outcomes. My research employs genetic and genomic approaches to address these issues, largely using Drosophila (fruit flies) as a model system. Most labs that work with Drosophila study either individual mutations of large effect (such as those that completely knock out a particular function) or subtle quantitative variation (rarely identifying specific genes). We employ both of these empirical approaches in conjunction with our genomic analyses to help relate our understanding from developmental genetics with the natural variation observed in populations.
Cell & Developmental Biology; Ecology & Evolution; Bioinformatics & Functional Genomics