Project Report

Through the ten week summer research program at the Graduate University of Advanced Studies in Hayama, Japan, I was able to complete my manuscript on adaptive evolution of a gene regulatory network, have many useful interactions with my Japanese colleagues, and gain familiarity with research in Japan. My scientific progress during this program was mainly on two fronts. The manuscript I completed, which is now under review, concerns the evolution of a three-gene regulatory network, the type I coherent feed-forward loop. This network is ubiquitous in natural systems. Such networks are critical for many fundamental decisions made by cells to control metabolism, resource allocation, and the responses to external signals. Using a well-supported mathematical model of this network's function and dynamics as an explicit, biologically-motivated model for epistasis, I show that adaptation in response to an environmental change can result in the appearance of compensatory evolution, despite the constituent mutations each being individually beneficial. The evolutionary phenomenon I characterized appears very general, and is likely an important part of the evolution of multidimensional biolgoical systems in general. The second front of progress concerns learning the mathematics and theory of stochastic processes and diffusions. I was able to take advantage of working in the lab of Hideki Innan, a leading expert in the application of this body of theory to population genetics. His lab members were also studying this theory, and so they were a great resource in aiding my own learning efforts. Despite its importance to the field, very few population geneticists have a good mastery of this theory and mathematics. By learning it myself, I hope to not only use it in my work, but also aid others in my field in learning it . Finally, this summer research program was a great cultural and personal experience. I met many Japanese researchers who I may be able to collaborate with in the future, and by living in Japan for 10 weeks, I gained a degree of comfort with bridging language and cultural barriers, a skill that is critical for the progress of international science.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
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Carter Kimsey
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Bullaughey Kevin L
United States
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