Faculty News

Scott Edwards courtesy of James Deshler

Scott Edwards fulfills a lifelong dream while also raising awareness

July 5, 2020

When COVID-19 sent students home and halted lab research, Scott Edwards, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, decided to fulfill his lifelong dream of cycling from the Atlantic to Pacific. Two weeks before his departure on June 6, nationwide protests broke out over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. On the same day a video of a racist encounter in Central Park involving a Black birder and white woman went viral. As a result of that incident, a group of Black birders and naturalists launched...

Read more about Scott Edwards fulfills a lifelong dream while also raising awareness
The animals sampled in the analysis. Colors indicates rates of evolution: warm colors high rates and cool colors low rates

Did Adaptive Radiations Shape Reptiles?

July 3, 2020

Some of the most fundamental questions in evolution remain unanswered, such as when and how extremely diverse groups of animals – for example reptiles – first evolved. For 75 years, adaptive radiations – the relatively fast evolution of many species from a single common ancestor – have been considered as the major cause of biological diversity, including the origins of major body plans (structural and developmental characteristics that identify a group of animals) and new lineages. However, past research examining these rapid rates of evolution was largely constrained by the methods...

Read more about Did Adaptive Radiations Shape Reptiles?
Tomographic models of Leanchoilia illecbrosa juveniles from the Cambrian (Stage 3) Chengjiang biota of South China

MicroCT Reveals Detailed Head Morphology of Arthropod, Leanchoilia illecebrosa

June 25, 2020

Javier Ortega-Hernández and Yu Liu, Professor of Paleobiology, Yunnan University, China have collaborated for years in the study of Chengjiang arthropods and their evolutionary significance. Their latest paper in Current Biology shows with unprecedented clarity the head morphology of the species Leanchoilia illecebrosa - a member of...

Read more about MicroCT Reveals Detailed Head Morphology of Arthropod, Leanchoilia illecebrosa
Jianshania furcatus, from the Ercaicun section of Haikou, Cambrian (Stage 3) Chengjiang biota

MicroCT Reveals New Arthropod Species

June 1, 2020

Using microCT Javier Ortega-Hernández and Yu Liu, Professor of Paleobiology, Yunnan University, China discovered Xiaocaris luoi, a new species of fuxianhuiid, an important group of early branching arthropods that are central to discussions concerning the early evolution of this phylum. Xiaocaris luoi, represents the smallest known fuxianhuiid, its trunk legs bore strong spines...

Read more about MicroCT Reveals New Arthropod Species
Snapshots from a live recording of Drosophila embryonic development.  (Image courtesy of Stefan Günther/EMBL Heidelberg)

Life from Chaos

May 27, 2020

Prof. Mahadevan and researchers have developed a framework to quantify the fate and dynamic organization of cells into tissues from imaging data by applying techniques of fluid dynamics and chaos theory to embryogenesis.

Embryogenesis — how an organism arises from a single cell — is one of the most mysterious and complex processes in nature. The large-scale, coordinated and collective movements of cells in a tissue during embryogenesis resemble the complex and chaotic flows of fluids in the ocean or atmosphere. How the movements determine which cells are destined to...

Read more about Life from Chaos
Peter Girguis courtesy of The Moore Foundation

Peter Girguis Awarded Petra Shattuck Excellence in Teaching

May 22, 2020

Congratulations to Peter Girguis, recipient of the 2020 Petra Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award!

Established by the Harvard Extension School in memory of Petra T. Shattuck, a distinguished and dedicated Harvard Extension teacher who died in 1988, these prizes are presented annually to honor outstanding teaching. 

Pardis Sabeti Lab courtesy of Michael Butts

Pardis Sabeti Awarded Funding from TED's Audacious Project

May 14, 2020

Prof. Pardis Sabeti partnered with Christian Happi, Professor and Director of the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemer's University in Nigeria, to develop, Sentinel, an early warning system that detects and tracks viral threats in real time.

Sabeti and Happi plan to combine rapid CRISPR-based test results in different regions and countries with data-sharing technology to track outbreaks and share information to preempt a pandemic. The...

Read more about Pardis Sabeti Awarded Funding from TED's Audacious Project