Dr Nicholas Irwin

Research Interests

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in the diversity and evolution of eukaryotic complexity. I use a combination of computational and experimental approaches to study the evolutionary history and drivers of major cellular transitions such as the origins and evolution of molecular systems, especially those within the nucleus, the diversification of major lineages, and the evolution of life histories and morphology. I am interested in leveraging the remarkable variation that exists amongst eukaryotic organisms (e.g., animals, plants, fungi, and protozoa) to identify the evolutionary mechanisms that have given rise to the diversity we see today. My current research is focused on understanding the impact that viruses have had in driving eukaryotic evolution. The exchange of genes between viruses and eukaryotes, through a process known as horizontal gene transfer, has the capacity to shape viral infection strategies as well as introduce genetic novelty into eukaryotic organisms. I aim to characterize the frequency and impact of these exchanges to understand how viruses have contributed to the evolution of eukaryotic organisms.