Category: Research

Why use Artificial Life to Study Evolutionary Biology?

By Charles Ofria on February 3, 2015 in Research / 6 Comments
Why use Artificial Life to Study Evolutionary Biology?

“What I cannot create, I do not understand” — Richard Feynman In the Devolab, we use artificial life systems to improve our understanding of evolutionary dynamics.  Specifically, we perform experiments on populations of self-replicating digital organisms that evolve in a natural and unconstrained manner.  But why did we decide to focus on artificial life?  What are the advantages and drawbacks of using these relatively complex computational systems?

Parasites, Complexity, and Evolvability (Oh my!)

By Charles Ofria on December 20, 2014 in News, Research / 1 Comment

My research has long focused on understanding how simple processes can produce the amazing levels of complexity and diversity we see in nature.  This past week, we had a paper appear in PLoS Biology that I am particularly pleased with. In it, we use digital organisms to explore how the interactions between hosts and parasites can promote the evolution of new complex traits, even when those traits would otherwise be costly. Zaman L, Meyer JR, Devangam S, Bryson DM, Lenski RE, and Ofria C (2014) Coevolution Drives the Emergence of Complex Traits and Promotes Evolvability. PLoS Biology 12(12): e1002023. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002023. Researchers have long understood that coevolution produces rapid evolutionary changes: parasites race to find new mechanisms to infect hosts and in turn those hosts are pressed to keep evolving new defenses, just to survive.  This effect […]

Recent Publications From the Devolab

By Anya Vostinar on November 18, 2014 in News, Research / 0 Comments

Hello, world, we’re back! The Devolab (i.e. Dr. Charles Ofria’s research lab) has been up to lots of research, but not much blogging – until now. We’ve got lots of plans for discussing interesting papers, ongoing research, behind-the-scenes looks at grad student life, and much more. For now, plan on seeing new posts on Tuesdays. To start things off, we thought you’d like to know what we’ve been up to in the past year or so, therefore here is a list of the recent publications from the lab. Going forward, we’ll aim to have posts with high-level discussions of our new papers, and slowly fill in with posts about some of the more exciting previous papers. Without further ado, we present research: