CESPOoL Team

David Baum

Principal investigator

University of Wisconsin

I am an evolutionary biologist with a particular interest in understanding major transitions in evolution (e.g., the origins of flowers, eukaryotic cells, and life itself). As PI of the project my lab is developing the basic experimental protocols for the empirical sides of the CESPOoL project and I am participating also in guiding the theoretical mathematical modeling aims.

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Kate Adamala

Co-investigator

University of Minnesota

We work on building tools for studying and controlling biology, using synthetic cells and protein engineering technologies. We utilize the combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches to synthetic biology: using classical protein engineering and molecular biology and combining it with the “synthetic cell” liposome bioreactors to interface with natural cells.

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Michael Travisano

Co-investigator

University of Minnesota

My long-term research goals are in understanding the causes of biological diversity and complexity. While natural selection is the ultimate cause for both, that level of explanation is not sufficient to understand how the myriad forms of life have come to exist. My research program is essentially a series of studies of increasingly more complicated biological systems.

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Irving Epstein

Co-investigator

Brandeis University

Research in our group covers oscillatory chemical reactions, spatial pattern formation, dynamical systems and neurobiology. Many phenomena in living systems involve periodic changes. In recent years, oscillating chemical reactions have blossomed from a curiosity studied by an obscure group of Russians to a major area of scientific research. We study these systems both experimentally and theoretically, from several points of view. We have achieved the first successful design of a new chemical oscillator.

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Daniel Seg

Co-investigator

Boston University

Through a combination of mathematical modeling and experimental methods, we study the dynamics and evolution of metabolism in individual microbial species and in microbial ecosystems. We are interested both in the fundamental principles of biological organization, as well as in applications, especially in the areas of human disease, metabolic engineering, and environmental sustainability.

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Christopher Kempes

Co-investigator

Santa Fe Institute

I am a scientist working at the intersection of physics, biology, and the earth sciences. Using mathematical and computational techniques I study how simple theoretical principles inform a variety of phenomena ranging from major evolutionary life-history transitions, to the biogeography of plant traits, to the organization of bacterial communities. I am particularly interested in biological architecture as a mediator between physiology and the local environment.

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Niles Lehman

Co-investigator

Portland State University

I am interested in molecular evolution and the biochemistry of catalytic RNAs (ribozymes). Research in my lab utilizes powerful in vitro evolution techniques to discover RNA sequences with new or improved functions, for example, in regard to RNA-metal ion interactions. We are particularly keen to use these techniques to test fundamental evolutionary hypotheses, such as the antiquity of recombination.

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Karyn Rogers

Co-investigator

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dr. Rogers’ research focuses on the relationships between microbial communities and environmental conditions in extreme ecosystems, and is broadly applied to understanding the nature of the origin of life on Earth, the potential for life throughout the solar system, and the extent of life in modern extreme environments.

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Janet Iwasa

Co-investigator

University of Utah

Janet Iwasa is broadly interested in using molecular visualization techniques, particularly animation, to explore and communicate scientific research. 

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