Joseph F. Ryan, Ph.D.

Joseph Ryan_1443_JRAssistant Professor of Biology

Dr. Joseph Ryan completed a B.S. in computer science at the University of Maryland University College while working as a bioinformatics programmer at the National Human Genome Research Institute. He earned a Ph.D. in bioinformatics from Boston University. He was a postdoctoral fellow and research fellow in the Computational Genomics Unit at the National Human Genome Research Institute. He was also a postdoctoral fellow at Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology in Bergen, Norway.




The ctenophore, the anemone, and the stalked jelly:

Observations into animal history


The remarkable display of diversity in the animal kingdom is a result of hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary change. We combine experimental techniques, genome sequencing, and computational analysis to answer fundamental questions about the sources of this evolutionary diversity in marine animals. The main animal models in the lab are ctenophores (comb jellies) and cnidarians (e.g., anemones, jellyfish, stalked jellies), but we also have projects involving annelids, echinoderms, ectoprocts, flatworms, and other marine invertebrates.

Key questions in the lab include:

* How are animals related?
* How are genomes evolving and what effect have these changes had on animal evolution?
* How do animals adapt to extreme environments like the deep sea?
* How do changes in life history arise and what affect do they have on genomes?
* What are the underlying mechanisms that have shaped animal regeneration?
* What can cancer genes in a sea anemone tell us about cancer in humans?
* What drives reproduction in ctenophores?


The Ryan lab is interdisciplinary and integrates experimental biology and bioinformatic techniques to address questions at the intersection of evolutionary biology, developmental biology, and ecology. The work involves DNA sequencing, genome assembly, genome annotation, phylogenomics, microinjections, spectroscopy, fieldwork, and any other techniques that help address fundamental questions in animal evolution.