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Evolution & Systematics

The physical properties of DNA encode genetic information

Mechanical deformations of DNA are ubiquitously part of universal biological processes involved in the transduction of genetic information. Although the average compliance of DNA to accommodate such deformations has been extensively measured, biophysical measurements of DNA have never been conducted on a genome-wide scale. Consequently, we lack experimental understanding of the extent to which the local mechanical properties of DNA vary with sequence along entire genomes, and how such variations modulate the energetics of diverse biological processes.

Cellular innovations in chordate development

Each animal contains a rich diversity and lineage of cell types, equal in complexity to the diversity of animal species themselves. However, much less is known about the origins of cell type. Dr. Phil Abitua, who has done his graduate research with Mike Levine (UCB) and postdoc research with Alex Schier (Harvard), will speak on his work to reconstruct the evolutionary origins of two important vertebrate-specific cell types: neurogenic placodes and neural crest cells.

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