I am an evolutionary geneticist who combines experimental and computational methods to study two fundamental topics in evolutionary biology: the evolution of multicellularity and the origins of species.

One of my main focuses is a long-term evolution experiment that examines the transition to multicellularity, inspired by Richard Lenski’s LTEE with bacteria. I’m studying this using the ‘snowflake’ yeast, a simple model of nascent multicellularity. Through my post-doctoral research, I was able to uncover the role of oxygen in the evolution of multicellular size, allowing me to develop a multicellular long-term evolution experiment (MuLTEE). My ultimate goal is to run this experiment for years, monitoring how macroscopic multicellularity affects the fitness, genome, transcriptome, phenotype, and life cycle of both individual cells and multicellular groups.

Additionally, I explore the genetic mechanisms of reproductive isolation in yeast to better understand how species originate and are maintained. By dissolving the reproductive barrier between two yeast species, I was able to increase their gamete survival from less than 1% to 32%, allowing yeast geneticists to generate viable hybrid crosses across yeast species with similar genetic features.

Press coverage about our work

• The Atlantic:
One of evolution’s biggest moments was re-created in a year
• National Geographic:
Evolving globs of yeast may unlock mysteries of multicellular life
• The New York Times:
An experiment repeated 600 times finds hints to evolution’s secrets
• Science Daily:
Did Earth’s early rise in oxygen help multicellular life evolve?
• Quanta Magazine:
Single cells Evolve large multicellular forms in just two years