BEACON funded: $25m / 5 years == awesome

The National Science Foundation just announced that the BEACON Science and Technology Center centered at Michigan State University was just funded. BEACON stands for "Bio/computational Evolution in Action Consortium" - you can check out the Web site here.

In my own nutshell, BEACON is focused on studying the evolution of organization across multiple scales -- from genomic and cellular, to multicellular, to inter-multicellular (a.k.a. social) -- using techniques from experimental evolution, modeling, and digital life systems.

BEACON is a project nucleated by a long-time collaboration between the Lenski Experimental Evolution Lab and the Devolab, parts of which grew out of a summer undergraduate research project (Avida!) that Charles Ofria and I did under Chris Adami's supervision in 1993.

I feel old.

The practical consequences are pretty cool.

First, it means that MSU (and our partner institutions, too -- see below) has money explicitly for supporting students doing really sexy interdisciplinary work combining computation and biology. This is the kind of work that has been reasonably hard to find funding for, especially as it gets less and less connected to, ahem, reality. So we're looking for really awesome students that don't fit in a nice, neat academic box. (How often do you hear that?? ;)

Don't like Michigan? Well, that's fine -- BEACON is a collaboration between MSU, U. Idaho, UT Austin, UW Seattle, and North Carolina A&T. Drop me a line and I can put you in touch with PIs at your favorite graduate school.

It also means that I am being recruited to teach a course on bringing biologists to computational science. This should have positive effects on the state of the Software Carpentry notes, for one. It also means more biologists being brought into the light of Python, for another. Good? I think so ;)

Finally, it means I will probably be thinking about an even wider range of research and research activities in my lab. If you're thinking about starting grad school in 2011, check out BEACON in general and my lab in particular -- I'm interested in

  • evolution of gene regulation in artificial systems
  • understanding evolutionary signals of information gain in genomes
  • evolution of vertebrate complexity

and more.


Legacy Comments

Posted by Greg Wilson on 2010-02-22 at 13:42.

Congratulations! That's great news.

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