Evenings at Whitney on Oct. 20: Understanding Animal History through the Eyes of a DNA Sequencer
The Evenings at Whitney Lecture Series hosted by the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory returned on Oct. 20, 2016, at 7 p.m. with the program titled “Understanding Animal History through the Eyes of a DNA Sequencer.” Joseph Ryan, assistant professor of biology at Whitney Laboratory, shared how his lab uses DNA sequences to investigate the evolutionary history of animals. He discussed how a thorough understanding of evolutionary processes can contribute solutions to broader societal issues. The free lecture was presented at Lohman Auditorium located at 9505 Ocean Shore Blvd., on the Whitney Laboratory campus.
It is known from comparisons of modern-day animals that the last common ancestor of animals, which lived hundreds of millions of years ago, had a complex body plan and thousands of genes. The massive diversity present in modern-day animals is a product of evolution from this ancestral genome. Understanding evolutionary changes in DNA provides key insights into how this diversity has been generated.
Ryan is a computational biologist trained in evolutionary biology. He received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from University of Maryland University College and a doctorate in bioinformatics from Boston University. He completed a postdoc at the National Human Genome Research Institute and a second postdoc at the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology in Norway. He has been a faculty member at the Whitney Laboratory since 2014. His lab focuses on combining evolutionary theory, genomic techniques and invertebrate animal models to understand biological processes.