Sr Research Scientist
321 Cherry Emerson Bldg
PhD Zoology, Michigan State University, Masters, BioSystems Engineering, Michigan State University, Masters, Mathematics, Michigan State University, Physics, Hope College
Mathematical Population Biology, Evolutionary Genetics, Viral Dynamics, Immunology, Fourier Analysis, Stochastic Processes
Mutation Rate Evolution. When genetic linkage is strong, we have found that mutation rates are neither optimal nor stable. These intriguing features have implications for basic evolutionary science as well as possible medical applications
Asexual Population Dynamics. Asexuality (and genetic linkage in general) serves to statistically decouple population-level dynamics from properties of individuals. Because adaptations are the product of population-level phenomena, some predictions about adaptations may be made without regard for specific properties of individuals – in the spirit of statistical mechanics.
Social Cheating and Cancer. Pre-cancerous and cancerous mutants have been characterized as social cheaters in a Darwinian free-for-all. Immune pressure has been invoked as the primary mechanism for suppressing such cheaters, yet we find that simple community structure can do the job quite effectively as long as the mutation rate stays below a marked threshold. This finding calls into question the role of immunity in early somatic evolutionary processes leading up to the onset of cancer and seems to have implications for prevention.
Homeostasis Theory. If one starts with an assumption of homeostasis, the repertoire of equations used to describe the biological or social system in question is immediately reduced to a handful of canonical equations that are “structurally stable”. Homeostasis theory starts with this encompassing assumption and would almost appear to work backwards as it maps natural “phenomena” onto the handful of canonical equations that must govern them. This phenomenological approach was pioneered in ecology by Jose Leonel Torres and provides a powerful "top down" systems modeling paradigm for the biological and social sciences, where "bottom-up" modeling approaches can be far too complex to be tractable or informative.
Antigenic Evolution and Redefining Self. In this two-pronged approach, 1) evolutionary models will suggest how the immunological self might have evolved, and 2) homeostasis theory may predict general properties of self under the recently proposed “continuity criterion”. There will be some tempting implications for a large array of applied problems in infectious diseases, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.