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Evolution & Systematics
Our research is aimed at understanding the development and evolution of the nervous system. We focus on the visual system of insects, particularly at the level of how cell fates are specified. Changes to the number and types of neurons animals produce can be adaptive, allowing for expanded color vision in butterflies or providing more sensitive target detection for male flies that chase their mates.
Members of the Archaea (the third domain of life) that can produce methane are referred to as methanogens. These organisms are prevalent in a wide range of anoxic environments, including the human distal gut, and account for 75 to 80 percent of the annual methane emissions on our planet. Therefore methanogens have significant implications for climate science, biotechnology and even aspects of human health. Despite their importance, the physiology and evolution of methanogens is still poorly understood.