Natural Sciences Colloquium

Friday, October 12
3 p.m.-4 p.m.
1010
Science Learning and Research Center (SLRC)
(map)

Students are welcome!

 

Dr. Michael Wiser

Michigan State University

Title: What evolution in a computer can tell us about the importance of environmental change

The world is not constant.  Environmental conditions fluctuate in cycles of days, months, seasons, and years, on top of long-term trends that last from decades to millennia. How does evolution proceed in the face of a changing environment?  Several genetic mechanisms are hypothesized to be important to this adaptation, yet their ubiquity makes them extremely difficult to study in a controlled experiment; how can we isolate the role of certain types of mutations if we can’t prevent them in a treatment?  To address these issues, I’ve been performing evolutionary experiments in a computational system, where self-replicating, error-prone computer programs compete for digital resources.  By alternately allowing or preventing particular types of mutations, we can measure their impact, and thus their importance to adaptation in a changing world.

 

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Department of Natural Sciences

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