Faculty News

Eggs by Nicholas Blumhardt on Flickr

Overturning Evolutionary Doctrine

July 3, 2019

In a new study in Nature, Cassandra Extavour and her lab disprove an old hypothesis and prove a new one. Extavour says insects make up 80 percent of all animal species on Earth. She and PhD students, Sam Church, Seth Donoughe ('18), and Bruno de Medeiros analyzed a large data set to challenge the untested assumptions about egg size in insects. Across all insects, the team found...

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Tokyo Tech and Jim Hanken Developmental Cell Study 2019

Oxygen Shapes Arms and Legs

June 13, 2019

A collaboration between professors at Tokyo Tech and Yamagata University and Prof. Jim Hanken has identified a surprising factor that the amount of oxygen surrounding the embryo could have been crucial for the appearance of interdigital cell death in tetrapods during evolution. The study, published in Developmental Cell, looked to understand the role of environmental oxygen in the...

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Image from 2019 Science Advances Article by Stephanie Pierce

Fin-to-Limb Evolution

May 8, 2019
Stephanie E. Pierce collaborated with London's Royal Veterinary College to help explain how tetrapods (animals with limbs - hands and feet and fingers and toes) arose from animals that were fish with fins and lived in water.  The team examined fossil evidence using the innovative technique, anatomical network analysis (AnNA) and found a pattern not before seen. The study published in May 8 issue of Science Advances helps to explain how sea-dwelling creatures' fins became specialized... Read more about Fin-to-Limb Evolution
Bacillus subtilis swarm by Adrian Daerr

L. Mahadevan and Team Describe How Bacteria Spread in Different Forms

April 30, 2019

Prof. L. Mahadevan and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences researchers have developed a new model to describe how bacteria spread in different forms. The study, published in the open-access journal, eLife, combines mechanics, hydrodynamics and transport to describe the dynamics of growth and formation of thin bacterial swarms and biofilms; revealing the spread in both forms of microbial community are limited by the constraints of water and...

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southern cassowary Luke Seitz

Convergent Regulatory Evolution and Loss of Flight in Paleognathous Birds

April 5, 2019

Species from widely divergent taxa can experience similar changes in traits. What underlying genetic drivers cause these parallel changes remains an open question. Tim Sackton (Director of Bioinformatics and former postdoc in Scott Edwards Lab), PhD student, Phil Grayson and Prof. Scott Edwards used a new method developed by collaborators in the Harvard Statistics Department to look across groups of birds that have repeatedly lost flight. The team showed there is convergence in the regulatory regions associated with genes related to flight, but not...

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