News and events

Study explores the promises and pitfalls of evolutionary genomics

June 6, 2022

The second century Alexandrian astronomer and mathematician Claudius Ptolemy had a grand ambition. Hoping to make sense of the motion of stars and the paths of planets, he published a magisterial treatise on the subject, known as the Almagest. Ptolemy created a complex mathematical model of the universe that seemed to recapitulate the movements of the celestial objects he observed. Unfortunately, a fatal flaw lay at the heart of his cosmic scheme. Following the prejudices of his day, Ptolemy...

New astrobiology research predicts life 'as we don't know it'

March 2, 2022

The search for alien life has been restricted to using life on Earth as the reference, essentially looking for “life as we know it” beyond Earth. For astrobiologists looking for life on other planets, there are simply no tools for predicting the features of “life as we don’t know it.” In new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team of scientists has tackled this restriction by identifying universal patterns in the chemistry of life...

Jensen named outstanding mentor

February 7, 2022

This month, the ASU Graduate College named Jeffrey Jensen among the 2021-2022 Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentors. Jensen is a faculty member of the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution and a professor in the School of Life Sciences and the Center for Evolution and Medicine. He works in the field of population genetics, developing theory and statistical methodology focused upon the study of evolutionary processes. He has advised over 20 postdoctoral researchers over the last decade and...

Biodesign researcher Michael Lynch wins coveted lifetime achievement award in genetics

January 25, 2022

Michael Lynch, director of the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution at Arizona State University, is the winner of the 2022 Genetics Society of America (GSA) Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal for his far-reaching and influential contributions to science. The award, one of the most prestigious in the field of genetics, is granted in honor of an individual member’s exceptional lifetime accomplishments as well as history of dedicated mentorship to fellow geneticists. The GSA is an...

A biological paradox offers new insights into the mystery of cancer

December 22, 2021

The cells in the body can be thought of as tiny archery targets, each vulnerable to the deadly arrow of cancer.  The more cells a given animal has and the longer it lives, the greater its odds of accumulating harmful cell mutations that can eventually lead to cancer. Or at least, this is what intuition suggests. Nevertheless, many very large animals bearing huge cell populations, including elephants and whales, not only survive to old age, but have remarkably low rates of cancer. This...

ASU researcher chosen to be a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

September 23, 2021

Biodesign Institute’s John McCutcheon first at ASU to earn the position For the first time, an Arizona State University researcher has been selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. HHMI, a non-profit research organization, announced today that biologist John McCutcheon is one of 33 scientists chosen for this prestigious position in 2021.  The HHMI Investigator program currently supports over 250 researchers at more than 60 research institutions across the...

New directions for biology: ASU receives NSF Award for transdisciplinary institute

September 16, 2021

The National Science Foundation has announced the award of $12.5 million to Arizona State University for the development of a new Biological Integration Institute (BII). The award will initiate a university-wide program, under the direction of Michael Lynch, Principal Investigator, and director of the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution (CME). ASU’s new BII center will focus on the exciting, emergent field of evolutionary cell biology (ECB), a discipline Lynch has...

Virus-bearing scorpions wander the Southwest

September 6, 2021

In the hot, arid environment of Phoenix, Arizona and surrounding Sonoran Desert, ancient creatures flourish. Bark scorpions are among Earth’s oldest terrestrial animals. Their earliest fossil ancestors are believed to have made the transition from sea to land some 450 million years ago. In new research, Arvind Varsani and colleagues in the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics and ASU’s School of Life Sciences, describe bark scorpions collected around the Phoenix...

SARS-CoV-2: a theme and variations

August 11, 2021

The celebrations were well underway. America seemed to be emerging from the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, following some of the darkest days in the nation’s history. A vast reduction in infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities, driven by improved therapies and above all, a suite of highly effective vaccines, had brought a collective sigh of relief. The July 4th festivities were euphorically anticipated, marking not only the nation’s independence from colonial rule but its...

A nomad finds a home in viruses

June 23, 2021

When Arvind Varsani arrived in the Antarctica for the first time a decade ago, he noted that the world looked black and white — from the sheet ice to the sky to the snippets of Earth peeking out from under the snow-covered mountains. That is, with the exception of an oversized vermilion bus that ferried him and other researchers to a nearby camp. The sounds of a wind farm and heavy machinery reverberated. “It was a very surreal experience,” Varsani recalled. So was the...