Evolution of the Nervous System

When did the nervous system originate and what were the key changes associated with this important evolutionary event? My PhD work explored this question by investigating the evolutionary history of voltage-gated ion channels, the main drivers of electrical excitability in nervous systems. I did this work in the labs of Harold Zakon and David Hillis at University of Texas at Austin.

Here’s a blog I wrote for BEACON a few years back: Electrical Life

The Comparative Approach to Human Disease

Organismal diversity has two main, non-independent causes: shared ancestry (history), and the evolutionary process (selection). How can we leverage these two causes to better understand the genetics of human disease? I recently wrote a review of this subject that explores the variety of ways that researchers leverage organismal diversity, model systems, and evolutionary reasoning to discover new genes associated with human diseases. In the Marcotte and Aldrich labs I use a combination of yeast genetics (pic above), systems biology, and bioinformatics to better understand the evolutionary process across all the levels of organisation; from the nucleotide, through the protein and cellular levels, and on up to the whole organism.