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Michigan State uses NSF grant to study evolution in action
Date:2/23/2010

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"BEACON is multidisciplinary to its core," Goodman said. "In addition to making discoveries in basic science and applications, it will prepare a new generation of researchers with the kind of insight that comes from first-hand experimentation with evolution in the lab and in the computer."

"The problems we face and the questions we seek to answer are far too complex to fit into traditional academic frames," MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. "This program will demonstrate again how we at MSU apply unique cross-cutting approaches to more fully understand the sublime processes that shape us and our world."

BEACON will unite biologists who study natural evolutionary processes with computer scientists and engineers who are harnessing these processes to solve real-world problems.

"We have an incredible opportunity now for the two-way flow of ideas and methods between biology and engineering," said co-principal investigator Richard Lenski, Hannah Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. "We can use deep biological principles to stimulate innovation in computational realms and, at the same time, use the speed and precision of computers to explore open questions in biology."

BEACON will promote the transfer of discoveries from biology into computer science and engineering design, while using novel computational methods and systems to address complex biological questions that are difficult or impossible to study with natural organisms.

"We will use digital organisms, which are self-replicating computer programs that evolve in a very natural, open-ended fashion, allowing experiments that parallel those performed in experimental evolution laboratories as well as mirroring more targeted evolutionary computation applications," said Charles Ofria, co-PI and associate professor of computer science and engineering.

"BEACON will open up countless new opportunities for MSU students and faculty in the Ecol
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Contact: Tom Oswald
tom.oswald@ur.msu.edu
517-281-7129
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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