Evolutionary Biology

Evolution is the process that binds together all life on earth. Defined quite simply as “change in genetic material over time”, we can model it with computers, measure it in laboratories, and observe it in the wild. Here at UMBC, active research encompasses all of these approaches. From field studies of divergence and speciation in birds and fish, to laboratory studies of aging and parasitism in fruit flies, to computer simulations of primordial life, we offer broad opportunities for graduate training. Many other research groups in our department build on this strong evolutionary framework with studies that encompass animal signalling, animal and plant development, protein evolution, and bioinformatics.

Faculty with Interest in Evolutionary Biology:

Burns, Mercedes
Evolutionary ecology of sexual conflict and reproductive morphology, especially in the leiobunine Opiliones (“daddy-longlegs”)

Cronin, Thomas
We study the evolution of adaptations of animals that allow them to see and perform their required functions in the habitats they encounter. This field is generally called visual ecology.

Erill, Ivan
Application of soft-computing paradigms to the alignment problem. Insights into the evolution of regulatory systems.

Farabaugh, Philip
Evolution of programmed translational frameshifting and of the translational machinery in the budding yeasts.

Freeland, Stephen
The evolution of genetic coding: how and why life on our planet evolved a system of genetic coding, why one specific code came to dominate and what all this tells us about the origin(s) of life.

Leips, Jeff
Combining quantitative genetics with ecological studies to understand the genetic basis and maintenance of variation in life history traits in natural populations.

Mendelson, Tamra
Speciation in a brightly colored group of North American fish called darters: mate choice, sexual selection, visual signaling, hybrid fitness, and phylogenetic systematics.

Miller, Stephen
Investigations into the evolution of developmental complexity, using the volvocine green algae as a model.

Lohr, Bernard
Our work involves the sensory ecology of acoustic communication, especially questions about the co-evolution of auditory systems and vocal signals in natural habitats.

Omland, Kevin
Molecular phylogeny and population genetics of closely related birds to study speciation and character evolution. Recent research has focused on the NW orioles (Icterus), as well as ravens and ducks.