Alex Dornburg

Alex Dornburg

Assistant Professor

I am an evolutionary biologist with a broad interest in vertebrates, especially fishes. With over 30,000 species, ray-finned fishes are arguably among the most successful vertebrates on our planet. Although they may look quite different from us, we also share remarkable genetic similarities with fish species as diverse as gar and pufferfishes. But just how did this diversity come to be, and how has it persisted over millions of years? Moreover, how can an understanding of this diversity aid us in understanding our own genomes? My goal is to investigate the biodiversity of fishes to answer these types of questions.

My current research primarily focuses on three topics:

1) The evolutionary history of marine fishes in threatened ecosystems (reefs and the Antarctic);
2) the mechanisms and functional consequences of gene family diversification in the ray-finned fish innate immune system; and
3) the development of theory and software to aid comparative phylogenomic research.

In addressing these topics, I hope to illuminate general features of vertebrate evolution while providing critical historical context that can help us more effectively face emergent challenges to both conservation and human health. Google Scholar: Lab Website: