PhD candidate, Zoology
Faculty advisor: Anthony Ives
Lucas Nell is a PhD candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology studying population genomics and evolutionary ecology. He is fascinated by how ecological processes, such as population dynamics and species interactions, interact with genomic processes. In his dissertation research, Lucas analyzes theoretical, experimental, and field data in addition to developing a software tool that can simulate DNA sequencing data from populations with complex evolutionary histories.
His fundamental goal is to understand how systems work in nature. “Evolutionary predictions could inform decisions for a range of societal problems, such as treatment-resistant pathogen and pest control, vaccine management, and biodiversity conservation,” Lucas said. “Predicting evolution requires mechanistic knowledge of the underlying processes.”
Because of the Jerome A. and Mary Jane Straka Fellowship he received from the Graduate School for his dissertation work, Lucas has had additional time to apply for more research funding from the Graduate School and Institute for Regional and International Studies on campus, as well as external sources including the Society for the Study of Evolution and American Society of Naturalists. Moreover, he has submitted one dissertation chapter for publication, began writing another chapter, published one paper from a collaborative project, and has helped create working manuscripts for two other projects.