I’m a biologist using computational and experimental approaches to study the evolution of the regulatory genome. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the labs of Dr. Cedric Feschotte and Dr. Nels Elde at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

cxyjbmyxeaaakqlNovember 2016: Transposable elements are genomic parasites that are masters of hijacking the cell to promote their own replication. At the same time, they inadvertantly provide a rich stock of “pre-made” regulatory elements that are ripe for evolutionary co-option by the host organism. A number of recent studies have now convincingly demonstrated that transposable elements have contributed to the evolution of plants, insects, and mammals. Read more in our review, just published in Nature Reviews Genetics.

March 2016: Vertebrate genomes are littered with remnants of ancient retroviruses. Our study, just published in Science, reveals that some of these viral elements have been domesticated to help activate the innate immune response against modern-day viruses. As Sun Tzu stated in The Art of War, “The opportunity for defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” It seems host-virus evolutionary battles are no exception. unnamed

Perspective by Dr. Vincent Lynch.
Media coverage:
University of Utah Press release by Julie Kiefer.
Carl Zimmer, NYTimes
Ed Yong, The Atlantic (see also an animated short: “The Irony of Viruses“)
Jyoti Madhusoodanan, The Scientist
Sarah Zhang, Wired
Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine
Monique Brouillette, Science News
Katerine Foley, Quartz
Javier Sampedro, El Pais (in Spanish)

Interviews/Podcasts:
University of Utah Scope Radio Ed and Cedric discuss the paper with Julie Kiefer
This Week in Virology #382 Ed and Nels discuss the paper with the TWiV crew
Top of Mind with Julie Rose Ed and Cedric discuss CRISPR and viruses
Also featured on Inquiring MindsScience FridayScience Magazine Podcast