The Desai Lab


Michael Desai
Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Physics
mdesai [at]
Jenn Thomson
Administrative Assistant

Jenn keeps the lab running.

jthomson [at]
Alex Nguyen-Ba
Postdoctoral Fellow

Alex got his B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Toronto, and did his Ph.D. in Alan Moses' lab at the University of Toronto. He is interested in characterizing patterns of epistasis in budding yeast, in the evolution of complex mating systems, and a variety of other topics related to evolutionary dynamics and experimental evolution.

nnguyenba [at]
Parris Humphrey
Postdoctoral Fellow

Parris received his B.A. in Biology from Bard College in 2006. He did his graduate work in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with Noah Whiteman at the University of Arizona, and received his Ph.D. in 2015. He joined the Desai lab in August 2015.

phumphrey [at]
Angela Phillips
Postdoctoral Fellow

Angela joined the Desai lab as a postdoctoral fellow in June 2018. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry at MIT in Matthew Shoulders’s lab, where she applied chemical biology tools to profile the impact of host protein-folding factors on viral protein evolution. Angela is interested in the defining factors of fitness landscapes, particularly in the context of pathogen evolution.

aphillips [at]
Ivana Cvijovic
Graduate Student in Systems Biology

Ivana received her B.A. and M.Sc. from Cambridge University in 2013. She joined the Desai lab in 2014, and is currently working on theoretical models of evolution in fluctuating environment, and is interested generally in theoretical population genetics.

icvijovic [at]
Matthew Melissa
Graduate Student in Physics

Matthew received his B.S. in Engineering Physics from UC Berkeley in 2014. He joined the Desai Lab in October 2015, and is interested in using yeast surface display to characterize antibody-antigen binding affinities.

mjmel [at]
Julian Kates-Harbeck
Graduate Student in Physics

Julian got his B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford in 2013 and joined the Desai lab in 2015. He uses computational and analytical approaches to study complex contagion processes on structured populations, the spread of reputation on social networks, and models of network growth and attachment.

jkatesharbeck [at]
Milo Johnson
Graduate Student in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Milo received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in 2014. He joined the Desai lab in 2015 and is using experimental evolution in budding yeast to characterize the pleiotropic effects of adaptive mutations across diverse environmental conditions.

milo.s.johnson.13 [at]
Christopher Bakerlee
Graduate Student in Molecules, Cells, and Organisms

Chris received an A.B. in Biology from Brown University in 2012. He joined the Desai lab in 2016, and he is using budding yeast to understand epistasis and the evolutionary dynamics of "selfish genetic elements" (e.g., retrotransposons).

baker03 [at]
Katherine Lawrence
Graduate Student in Physics (MIT)

Katherine received her B.S. in Physics from Yale University in 2014, and she joined the Desai lab in 2017. She is interested in high-resolution high-throughput experimental methods to characterize fitness landscapes, including mapping quantitative traits in diverse wild yeast crosses and measuring the binding affinity trajectories of influenza antibodies.

klawrenc [at]
Michael Miyagi
Graduate Student in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Michael received his B.S. in Mathematics and Biology from UT Austin and joined the Desai lab in 2017. He is interested in developing methods to detect introgressed loci and infer recombination rate heterogeneity from sequence data, as well as applications of computational topology to population genetics.

michael.miyagi [at]
Artur Rego-Costa
Graduate Student in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Artur first joined the lab on 2017 as an exchange M.S. student, and then as a Ph.D. student in 2018. He earned his B.S from the U. of Brasília, and joint M.S. from U. of Groningen and U. of Montpellier. He is currently using deep-sequencing data from experimentally evolved yeast populations to answers questions about predictability of evolutionary dynamics.

rego-costa [at] [website]

Lab Alumni

Michael J. McDonald
Assistant Professor, Monash University.

Sergey Kryazhimskiy
Assistant Professor, University of California San Diego.

J. David van Dyken
Assistant Professor, University of Miami.

Gabriel Perron
Assistant Professor, Bard College.

Lucy Colwell
Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Cambridge University.

Ramya Purkanti
Postdoc, Vastenhouw lab, Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics.

Lauren Nicolaisen
Data Scientist, Khan Academy.

Benjamin H. Good
Miller Fellow, UC Berkeley.

Elizabeth R. Jerison
Postdoc, Quake Lab, Stanford University.

Evgeni M. Frenkel
Postdoc, Sabatini Lab, Whitehead Institute.

Katya Kosheleva
Bioinformatics Scientist, Invitae.

Daniel P. Rice
Postdoc, Novembre Lab, University of Chicago.

Jose I. Rojas Echenique
Postdoc, Boone Lab, University of Toronto.

Stephen Martis
Graduate Student, UC Berkeley.

Ian Ochs
Graduate Student, Princeton University.