We study life in context. Our research aims to answer fundamental questions that address national needs related to sustainable biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human and animal health and welfare. We focus on developing an integrative understanding of how complex biological systems develop, function, interact and evolve in a complex and changing world. Our vision is based on the proposition that by examining biological phenomena at all levels of the hierarchy of life in their ecological and evolutionary contexts, we can identify more meaningful questions and develop more meaningful answers. We work across the entire tree of life at all levels of biological organization, ranging from molecules to global ecosystems, over time scales ranging from milliseconds to millennia.

Our directory provide general descriptions of the diverse research initiatives. A more vivid and dynamic picture can be seen from the news stories posted on our home page, news page, and abstracted below. Feel free to contact any of us for more information.


Jason Gallant Uses NSF Grant to Explore Variation in Electric Fish Shock Duration

The electric pulses emitted by electric fish can be quite variable in their duration: and as it turns out the reason can be quite “shocking.” Jason Gallant has received a three-year, $680,000 National Science Foundation grant to continue work on a discovery that this variation may be due to unusual changes in a common protein called a potassium channel.

Evolution of Learning is Key to Better Artificial Intelligence

Fred Dyer was a co-author on a new paper published in The American Naturalist that explores how computers could begin to evolve learning in the same way as natural organisms did – with implications for many fields, including artificial intelligence.

Fish Reveal Limb-Regeneration Secrets

By studying how fish regenerate fins, Ingo Braasch’s team pinpointed the genes and the mechanisms responsible that drive the regrowth.