Welcome to the Evolutionary Informatics Lab

PI Alex Dornburg

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Our lab integrates tools from genomics, bioinformatics, immunogenetics, and evolutionary biology to provide the basis for forecasting changes in biodiversity as well as unknown aspects of emergent diseases. This work empowers us to effectively respond to global threats to human health and be better stewards of our planet



As we move into the 21st century, it is becoming apparent that learning about the past can critically aid us in facing emergent challenges to biodiversity

Given the rapid pace of global change devloping this understanding now is fundamentally important if we want to accurately forecast how biodiversity will be impacted by factors ranging from species invasion, ocean acidification, development, and rising temperatures

Learn about our own work concerning the evolution of biodiversity and global change and how these relate to the findings from the research efforts of our friends and colleagues here!



Our ability to ward off infection hinges on the ability to differentiate normal cells (self) from pathogens and infected cells (non-self). This ability is a hallmark of vertebrate immunity and up to one fifth of the vertebrate genome is comprised of immunologically related gene families

However, the genetic diversity of these families is highly heterogeneous. The individual genes that make up a family may vary in both number and rates of molecular evolution, and different individuals in the same species may not share the same genes.

Our goal is to understand the mechanisms and functional consequences of immune gene evolution


Evolutionary Medicine

Evolutionary biology is often considered a historical discipline. However, leveraging the power of evolutionary biology allows us to better understand, prevent, or treat disease. Our work on the durability of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 underscore its important role in informing decision-making, and provide a crucial stepping stone toward robust knowledge of our prospects of resistance to reinfection

A major initiative in the lab is to continue work that integrates knowledge of pathogen and host diversity into a phylogenetic framework to provide critical insights that can aid our efforts to thwart existing and emergent diseases



Reconstructing the Tree of Life gives us an evolutionary roadmap of the pathways various organisms took to the present day. This perspective is essential for topics that span a lineage's response to climate change to metastatic cascades in cancer. However, estimating phylogenies is far from trivial

Genome scale datasets provide a wealth of information, but also a lot of noise. Picture hiding a giant needle with an answer in a massive haystack. In our group we develop tools and theory to find that needle of information. This allows us to harness the power of massive sequence datasets and estimate robust phylogenies


Additional Content

Google scholar

Follow our work and see where it intersects with the work of others

Recent papers

Summaries of our latest papers along with links to pdfs or tutorials

Lab protocols

This is mostly for lab members and links to lab protocols and tutorials


Photos of various places, plants, and animals

Manuscript preparation

Links to writing tips and guides

Members only

Link to lab meeting schedule for lab members

Feel free to reach out!

If you have any questions about our research or want to learn more
about current graduate and undergraduate research opportunities.