Mary Rorick

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Hi, I'm Molly. I'm a 3rd year Genetics PhD student and a member of Gunter P. Wagner's Lab, which is a home to both theorists and experimentalists in evolutionary biology. I made a transition from the lab bench to the computer only when I entered graduate school, so I look forward to learning lots this summer from the folks with CS backgrounds. I am so excited to be going to the Santa Fe Institute (it sounds like its the coolest place ever) and I can't wait to meet you all this June!

Research Projects: I am interested in the causes or consequences of evolvability. One of my central working hypotheses is that there is an important functional link between modularity and evolvability. In one research project I am using a simple model of a genetic network in order to tease apart the various features of epistatic architecture that are difficult to measure and manipulate in real biological networks. Specifically, I am addressing whether it is modularity or another feature of epistatic architecture that is responsible for the evolvability of a genetic system. In a second project, in an attempt to understand the highly conserved and multifunctional nature of the homeodomain and test an alternative hypothesis for its origin, Gunter Wagner and I have developed a model of sequence evolution that includes competition between a protein's functional domains for control over residues. This model also revealed two mechanisms that are independently sufficient to explain the emergence of homo-amino-acid repeats. Lastly, I am planning a third research project that will use a comparative bioinformatics approach to determine whether proteins are especially modular and evolvable, and if so, why and how they came to be this way. As part of this project I hope to use knowledge-based potentials to map out protein neutral networks.

A bit more about me: Besides evolutionary biology, I am interested in painting and drawing, the great outdoors, hot yoga, eating locally and organically, my dog (a chocolate Labrador), unfiltered beer, and my new favorite TV show: The Wire.