MIT Integrative Microbiology Initiative Seminar November 13, 2023

Monday, Nov. 13, 2023 Room 68-180 4:00 PM

ABSTRACT: Evolution is responsible for extremely complex and creative structures that have continued to serve as sources of inspiration for human design. Computer scientists and engineers have been using evolutionary computation as a tool to solve challenging problems for decades, and although they have had much success and developed complex algorithms that make the computational evolutionary optimization process more efficient, the full potential of biological complexity and creativity is out of reach. My recent work has demonstrated that ecological interactions and host-parasite coevolution are extremely powerful processes that drive the evolution of innovation and complexity. These insights have been made possible by combining the power of a digital instance of evolution using self-replicating computer programs (i.e., digital organisms) and tractable microbial model systems. My research program broadly centers coevolutionary dynamics, but I’m interested in knowing fundamentally how and why evolution has produced such magnificent complexity and diversity on Earth.