Michael Lynch

Michael Lynch

Center Director and Professor, Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution


Michael Lynch is focused on mechanisms of evolution at the gene, genomic, cellular and phenotypic levels, with special attention being given to the roles of mutation, random genetic drift and recombination. This work relies on the integration of theory development and computational analysis with empirical work on several model systems, including the microcrustacean Daphnia, the ciliate Paramecium, and numerous microbial species. His current central goal is to integrate evolutionary theory with cell biology, using principles from population genetics and biophysics.

He has served as President of the Genetics Society of America, the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the American Genetic Association. Lynch is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Previously, he has held faculty positions at the University of Illinois, University of Oregon and Indiana University.

Besides many highly acclaimed papers, Lynch has written a two-volume treatise on quantitative genetics with Bruce Walsh. The first volume (1998) focuses on the genetics and analysis of quantitative traits, and the second (2018) on the evolution of quantitative traits. He is a major force in promoting neutral theories to explain variation in genomic and gene-structural architecture based on the effects of population sizes in different lineages; he presented this point of view comprehensively in his 2007 book “The Origins of Genome Architecture.” He is currently extending these ideas to the cellular level in “The Origins of Cellular Architecture,” expected to be published in early 2022.