NESCent’s scientific mission is to advance research that addresses fundamental questions in evolutionary science by integrating methods, concepts, and data within and across disciplines. For more on the context and a classification of synthesis in evolutionary science please read Linking Big: The Continuing Promise of Evolutionary Synthesis.
Highlights from NESCent Science activities include
- Measuring evolutionary change in modern human populations through analysis of a 60-year study of human health known as the Framingham Heart Study
- Addressing the origins and evolution of chemoreception from bacteria to mammals
- Tracking major changes in body size through the 3.5 billion years of life on Earth and tying them to major climatic events and the evolution of complexity
- Exploring the consequences of removing or relaxing natural selection and examining why certain traits persist
- Revealing how climatic variation controls the evolution of bird song and how quickly plants can adapt to climate change
- Documenting the rise and radiation of a variety of organisms such as microbes, whales, ferns, fish, and C4 grasses and developing new and robust statistical methods to detect these patterns
- Answering questions on human evolution and adaptation to altitude
- Integrating datasets to investigate the extinction of large animals ~60,000-11,000 years ago
- Understanding how selfish genes spread and maintain themselves in populations even though they have negative impacts on the fitness of organisms
As you can see, NESCent supports a portfolio of scientific activities that spans a wide range of organisms, habitats, methods, and disciplines. We do this by sponsoring postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars, and teams of scientists to tackle major evolutionary problems. NESCent fosters a fertile in-house environment for sustained research and provides novel mechanisms for bringing together diverse scientists to identify common interests and stimulate new collaborations.
Proposals for these diverse activities are generated by the scientific community, through our application process and reviewed by an external board.