The Hu Lab’s research program is directed at understanding fundamental processes in cell biology. Cellular construction, counting, movement and force generation are of particular interest. The team’s strategy is to combine imaging, molecular genetics and evolution based approaches to determine how key molecules and structures drive these processes, how they evolve and how the evolution of distinct molecular and structural features contribute to the evolution of cellular physiology. Researchers use an obligate intracellular human parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and its free-living relatives as model organisms, because of their many features that are advantageous for exploring these questions and also because in combination they provide a powerful means of addressing the evolution of parasitism in the phylum Apicomplexa. Equally important, insights into their basic biology will expose vulnerabilities in Toxoplasma and other apicomplexan parasites, which can be exploited to design better therapies.