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Fernanda Valdovinos

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Fernanda Valdovinos is an Assistant Professor in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Complex Systems. She received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the Faculty of Science, University of Chile in 2008. Before joining the University of Michigan, she was a researcher in the Estación Biológica de Doñana, Spain, at the Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Lab in Berkeley, CA and at the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.

Her lab studies the structure and dynamics of ecological networks at ecological and evolutionary scales; including their resilience to biodiversity loss, biological invasions, climate change, and exploitation by humans. She is a principal investigator in MICDE Catalyst Grant: “Embedded Machine Learning Systems To Sense and Understand Pollinator Behavior”.

Jianzhi (George) Zhang

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Jianzhi (George) Zhang is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology interested in the relative roles of chance and necessity in evolution. He got his B. S. from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and his Ph. D. in Genetics from Pennsylvania State University. He was a  Fogarty postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases before moving to the University of Michigan.

Professor Zhang’s research focuses on two main research areas:  (1) yeast as an experimental system for studying evolution, where his research group uses the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its relatives as model organisms to understand a variety of evolutionary processes such as the genetic basis of phenotypic variations among strains and species, or molecular and genomic bases of heterosis; and (2) computational evolutionary genomics where they use evolutionary, genomic, and/or systemic approaches to analyze publicly available data to characterize and understand pleiotropy, robustness, epistasis, gene-environment interaction, gene expression noise, translational regulation, RNA editing, convergent evolution, adaptation, origin of new genes, among-protein evolutionary rate variation, and other important genetic and evolutionary phenomena. Projects may also involve modeling and simulation, including the MICDE catalyst grant project where the team is using deep neural networks to infer molecular phylogenies and extract phylogenetically useful patterns from amino acid or nucleotide sequences, which will help understand evolutionary mechanisms and build evolutionary models for a variety of analyses.

Stephen Smith

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Stephen Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The Smith lab group is primarily interested in examining evolutionary processes using new data sources and analysis techniques. They develop methods to address questions about the rates and modes of evolution using the large data sources (e.g., genomes and transcriptomes) that have become more common in the biological disciplines over the last ten years. In particular, they use DNA sequence data to construct phylogenetic trees and conduct analyses about processes that shape the evolution of lineages and their genomes using these trees. In addition to this research program, they also address how new data sources can facilitate new research in evolutionary biology. To this end, they sequence transcriptomes, primarily in plants, with the goal of better understanding where, within the genome and within the phylogeny, processes like gene duplication and loss, horizontal gene transfer, and increased rates of molecular evolution occur.

Aaron King

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Aaron A. King is an Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and is affiliated with the Department of Mathematics, the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, the Center for Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics, the Fogarty International Center, and the National Institutes of Health. Prof. King develops and applies computationally intensive methods for using stochastic dynamical systems models to learn about infectious disease ecology and epidemiology.  These systems are typically highly noisy and nonlinear and are frequently uncomfortably high-dimensional.  Nevertheless, the King group’s approaches allow them to find out what the data have to say about the mechanisms that generate them.



Annette Ostling

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Annette Ostling is an Associate Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her lab focuses on the mechanisms by which competing species coexist, and how those mechanisms influence the structural patterns of ecological communities, i.e. the presence and relative abundance of species, and their distribution on axes of trait variation.  A key approach the lab takes is the simulation of stochastic community assembly models, which enable examination of the influence of immigration and demographic stochasticity in combination with mechanisms of niche differentiation.  Her group also uses computational approaches to study the evolution of species interactions, especially predation and host-pathogen interactions, in a spatial context.