From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki
Hi, I'm Molly (aka Mary Rorick). I am excited to be going to the Santa Fe Institute and I can't wait to meet you all this June!
1. What are your main interests?
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 of my research projects I am using a simple model of a genetic network to tease apart the various features of epistatic architecture that are difficult to measure and manipulate in real biological networks. In a second project, my advisor Gunter Wagner and I have developed a model of sequence evolution in an attempt to understand the highly conserved and multifunctional nature of the homeodomain and test an alternative hypothesis for its origin. This model also revealed two mechanisms that are independently sufficient to explain the emergence of homo-amino-acid repeats.
2. What sorts of expertise can you bring to the group?
I'm a 3rd year Genetics PhD student and a member of a lab that is home to both theorists and experimentalists in evolutionary biology. I have my undergraduate training in biology. My education and research interests have, from the beginning, straddled both “sides” of biology-- evolution/ecology and molecular/cell/genetics/development. I believe that a molecular and developmental perspective is important when approaching any evolutionary question, and that all biology research benefits from a firm foundation of evolutionary theory and ecological perspective. Thus, my contribution to the summer school will most likely be my broad background in biology.
3. What do you hope to get out of the CSSS?
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. More importantly, however, I look forward to meeting everyone from all these diverse fields, learning about the ways other fields approach complex systems, and getting unique perspectives from others on how they might think about the kind of biological systems I deal with everyday.
4. Any potential projects?
I am currently planning a third research project about protein modularity. As part of this project I hope to use knowledge-based potentials and possibly sequence evolution models that include considerations of co-evolving loci. This might be an appropriate project if there are others who are interested in this kind of thing.
Besides evolutionary biology, I am interested in eating locally and organically, painting and drawing, the great outdoors, the Boston Bruins, hot yoga, good beer, good TV shows like Arrested Development and The Wire, my dog (a chocolate Labrador), and recently, bird watching.