I want to know how to interpret organisms in the light of their evolutionary history. We often assume every trait on an organism has been “optimized” under natural selection, but this is almost never true: evolution wanders.
I find it helpful to think about every living thing as being like a very, very old house. Some of the parts are there because they’ve always been useful (walls), and some of the parts are new additions for new functions (solar panels); but a lot of parts are there because it was easier to modify what existed than it was to build something from scratch, especially if the house needs to be habitable the whole time (and the available changes are random). And, like houses, I think we can learn a lot about organisms by understanding them as the outcomes of their history.
PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2023 (expected)
MSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2019
BSc in Biology, 2016
University of Chicago
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