Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Theoretical molecular evolution
It is intuitive that the initial biology of a species constrains the evolution it will undergo. What is less obvious is how to identify salient biological features and characterize their evolutionary influence. I use simulations to answer the question, “Are some protein structures are more evolvable than others?” Importantly, we find that protein stability, which is known to contribute to evolvability, cannot account for large differences in fitness that we observe between simulated evolutionary trajectories of different protein structures. Therefore, I am looking for new important characteristics of protein structures, taking advantage of the clarity that the 3D lattice protein model used in our simulations brings to the question at hand. I am also developing approaches employing bioinformatics to validate salient features predicted by simulation.