Training and outreach

Seminar series

Monthly seminars include a mixture of local, national and international speakers chosen for their alignment with evolutionary cell biology, particularly in relation to the research of institute trainees.


Our flagship course will provide a rigorous and comprehensive introduction to the emerging and interdisciplinary field of evolutionary cell biology. Course topics include, but are not limited to, the origin of cells, genetic mechanisms of cellular evolution, evolutionary scaling laws, evolution of cellular structures, energetics and metabolism, information processing, and the evolution of organismal complexity. This survey course is designed for graduate and advanced undergraduate students, possessing a strong foundation in both evolutionary biology and cell biology, who are looking for training in interdisciplinary thinking across these fields and an introduction to research methods and approaches to questions in evolutionary cell biology.

Journal club

Participants include faculty, postdoc, graduate and undergraduate student attendees. Here, we discuss papers from cell biology, microbiology, systems biology, biophysics and population genetics, including both empirical and theoretical studies. At the outset of each semester, participants vote on a set of 4-week topics and then assemble into topic groups. Many of the themes are organized around the institute’s research projects and other key unsolved problems in evolutionary cell biology. Non-ASU guest participants often engage in the journal club via Zoom. Thematic sessions generated and driven by non-ASU members are welcome.

BII-MCE lab meetings

Our BII-MCE lab meetings allow for cross-lab interactions about progress and recent developments in evolutionary cell biology research. Participating labs in the BII-MCE sponsor graduate students, postdocs or other research staff to provide presentations to the rest of the group for mentoring and feedback. These lab meetings also serve as a platform for professional development on topics related to their career as well as diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in science.

Annual symposium and lecture

An important part of establishing evolutionary cell biology as a new field is to develop national and international connections among biologists working on topics at the interface of evolution and cell biology. To this end, we are establishing an annual evolutionary cell biology symposium to be held in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. By inviting cell and evolutionary biologists from the national/international community, working on different themes, we hope to encourage the formation of new collaborations. Coinciding with our annual symposium, we will host an annual public lecture featuring a well-known evolutionary cell biologist who can effectively and passionately communicate to lay audiences.

Glendale Community College exchange

We aim to establish a research exchange program with Glendale Community College, a local campus servicing 14,000 students. Collaboration with this institution will help foster local, sustained opportunities for under-represented minority recruitment into STEM fields.

GCC has a biotechnology program where students learn techniques such as PCR, Western blotting, DNA sequencing and cell culture. We will host five GCC biotechnology interns every year in the institute, providing each with a stipend, embedding them in all institute activities and providing them with the opportunity to work in labs focused on understanding cellular evolution. Institute faculty members, postdocs or graduate students will also present their work to biotechnology students at the GCC campus at least once per term.

This program supports our overarching goals of training the next generation of students in evolutionary cell biology and increasing the diversity of students recruited into our labs. By providing sustained support and a real path for under-represented minority students to enter science research, this program presents a clear path from community college to university undergraduate and graduate degrees and beyond.