The big picture question in our lab is how nature invents new traits. We look at organisms in the world around us and notice their diverse characters, and then go in search of the DNA sequence variants that underlie unique species-specific traits. For this purpose we invent computational and experimental methods for inter-species genetics. Our open projects apply these tools to species of simple bakers' and brewers' yeasts as a model system. We make hypotheses about which genes underlie trait differences of interest, and we test these hypotheses by making transgenic strains of one species harboring our genes of interest from another species. Our undergraduates find it very rewarding to contribute to these tests, and many of them contribute to scientific papers and go on to successful graduate study.
Undergraduates help make transgenic yeast strains to dissect the genetic basis of species-specific traits.
Excitement about evolution and willingness to work hard in the lab are a must!