Cultivating wisdom through evolutionary and ecological engineering

Erika DeBenedictis

Evolution gave rise to every living thing and all of human culture, but evolved systems are very different from those designed by humans. They're harder to predict and to design, and exhibit a frustrating tendency to evolve away from engineered behaviors. At the same time, harnessing and directing evolution can generate useful organisms and biomolecular tools that we could never have rationally designed. 

Our laboratory seeks to understand why systems evolve in the ways that they do, to develop tools capable of precisely intervening in the evolution of ecosystems with the guidance of interested local communities, and to cultivate wisdom sufficient to know whether, when, and how to proceed. 

Evolution gave rise to every living thing and all of human culture, but evolved systems are very different from those designed by humans. They're harder to predict and to design, and exhibit a frustrating tendency to evolve away from engineered behaviors. At the same time, harnessing and directing evolution can generate useful organisms and biomolecular tools that we could never have rationally designed. 

Our laboratory seeks to understand why systems evolve in the ways that they do, to develop tools capable of precisely intervening in the evolution of ecosystems with the guidance of interested local communities, and to cultivate wisdom sufficient to know whether, when, and how to proceed.