About the Center

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) is a nonprofit science center dedicated to cross-disciplinary research in evolution. NESCent is jointly operated by Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

 

Our Mission

NESCent promotes the synthesis of information, concepts and knowledge to address significant, emerging, or novel questions in evolutionary science and its applications. NESCent achieves this by supporting research and education across disciplinary, institutional, geographic, and demographic boundaries.

 

What is 'synthesis'?

Synthetic research in evolutionary science takes many forms but includes integrating novel data sets and models to address important problems within a discipline, developing new analytical approaches and tools, and combining methods and perspectives from multiple disciplines to answer and even create new fundamental scientific questions.

NESCent facilitates such synthetic research by providing an environment for fertile interactions among scientists. Our Science and Synthesis program sponsors postdoctoral fellows and sabbatical scholars as resident scientists, and two kinds of meetings, working groups and catalysis meetings. Catalysis meetings provide a novel mechanism for bringing together diverse research communities and cultures to identify common interests, while working groups provide an opportunity for scientists to work together intensively on fundamental synthetic questions over a several-year period.  These activities are community driven through our application process and evaluated by an external advisory board. 

Our Informatics program provides state of the art informatics tools to visiting and in-house scientists and aims to take the lead in assembling novel databases and developing new analytical tools for evolutionary biology. Finally it is sponsoring a major initiative to provide a digital data repository for work in evolutionary biology. 

NESCent’s Education and Outreach group communicates the results of evolutionary biology research to the general public and scientific community, provides outreach to groups who are underrepresented in evolutionary biology and works to improve evolution education.

NESCent is funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant #EF-0905606).  Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.