Evolution, Ecology & Environmental Biology

Over the past several years, NYU Biology has been building expertise in research and education in the areas of Evolution, Ecology and Environmental Biology.

NYU Biology's growth in Evolutionary Biology has been built largely at the interfaces of disciplines already strong in the department: developmental genetics, genomics and systems biology, and molecular evolution/systematics. As such, areas of focus include: Molecular and Genomic Evolution, Evolutionary Systems Biology, Experimental Evolution, Evolution of Developmental Systems and Molecular Systematics/Phylogenetics. Research opportunities span different levels of organization, such as: molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of genomes, gene-interaction networks, developmental and genetic processes, morphology and adaptive features; phylogenetic relationships and character evolution; the genetic/genomic architectures of populations; and the history of life on earth. Model organisms used in these studies include bacteria, single-celled eukaryotes, plants, nematode worms, flies and parasitic wasps, plants, cave fish, and primates. Theory and computational biology are regularly integrated with the experimental work to build explanatory models.

Major facilities and resources at NYU Biology supporting these studies include: the Sequencing (GenCore) Facility (high-throughput sequencing and expression analysis), the Computational Core, an Imaging Core (with confocal and other microscopes), and special collections (e.g. the NYU Rhabditid Collection with live strains of >150 nematode species). Our research and education missions in evolutionary biology are assisted by associations with other NYU departments (Anthropology, Computer Science), the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Ecology and Environmental Biology at NYU covers interactions among organisms, environments, and Earth. For research, Ecology and Environmental Biology draws on the diverse interests of our faculty across a range of levels from microbes and invertebrates to mammals and ecosystems, and includes geosphere, biosphere, and anthroposphere. Current areas of focus include: Climate Change, Biogeochemistry, Mass Extinctions, Disease Ecology, Biodiversity, and Landscape Ecology. Most faculty have joint or associated appointments with the Environmental Studies Program. Research approaches incorporate field work, laboratory analysis, computer modeling, and data and interdisciplinary systems analysis.


NYU Biology Faculty in this research area:

Ken Birnbaum Develop. & evolutionary genomics of plants; origin & genetic programming of cell types.
Richard Borowsky Evolution & genetics of fish; understanding molecular & developmental bases of adaptation.
Eric Brenner
Role of plant-derived medicinal compounds in plant signaling; plant evolution & diversity.
Jane Carlton
Whole genome evolution of protists, to identify genes under different evolutionary forces.
Gloria Coruzzi Plant evolutionary genomics and natural variation.
Claude Desplan Evolution of patterning mechanisms in insects.
Sevinc Ercan Evolution of X chromosome dosage compensation.
David Fitch Develop. evolution of morphology & sexual dimorphism; nematode molecular systematics.
Elodie Ghedin
Viral and parasitic worm evolution, and host-pathogen interactions.
David Gresham Adaptive evolution in microbes.
Mary Killilea
Spatial and temporal variability in ecosystems, using GIS, remote sensing and modeling.
Edo Kussell Computational biology and evolutionary theory. 
Fei Li
Evolution of epigenetic mechanisms.
Katie Schneider-Paolantonio 
Community and food web ecology, subterranean ecosystems (Natural and man-made).
Fabio Piano Mechanisms and evolution of early embryology in C. elegans and related nematodes.
Michael Purugganan Evolutionary and ecological systems biology, plant evolutionary genomics.
Michael Rampino
Macroevolution and mass extinctions of life.
Matthew Rockman
Evolutionary and molecular causes of heritable variation in animals.
Mark Siegal Robustness and evolution of complex traits.
Christine Vogel Different environmental stressors and their impact on protein expression regulation.
Tyler Volk
Environ. challenges to global prosperity, CO2 & global change, life's role in earth dynamics.
Rob DeSalle Phylogeny of arthropods; phylogenetic genomics.


Sample course curriculum in this research area: