Dr. Charles Nunn is an evolutionary anthropologist with interests in evolutionary approaches to understand and improve human health. He and his research group investigate the ecology and evolution of infectious disease, the evolution of sleep, and the links between ecology, evolution and global health. Nunn addresses these questions using phylogenetic methods, mathematical modeling, and through fieldwork in Madagascar, Kenya and other locations. He is the author of Infectious Diseases of Primates: Behavior, Ecology and Evolution and The Comparative Approach in Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology. Nunn received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in 1991 and his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1999. He has held positions at Harvard University, University of California Berkeley and Davis, the Max Planck Institute, and University of Virginia. Currently, he is a Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health at Duke.
Melissa Manus (Duke University), Assistant Director
Melissa Manus, an Associate in Research in the Nunn Lab at Duke University, is interested in using ecological and evolutionary principles to better understand health. She received a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Tulane University in 2013 and a Master of Science in Global Health from the Duke Global Health Institute in 2016. Prior to starting at Duke, Manus was in South Africa working with a community-based malaria education program. For her master’s thesis, she conducted fieldwork in rural Madagascar to investigate how contact with the environment and domesticated cattle affects the human skin microbiome. Ultimately, Manus aims to combine microbiome and infectious disease research with her background in ecology and evolutionary biology to tackle global public health challenges.
Antonio Baines (North Carolina Central University), Associate Director
Dr. Antonio T. Baines is a cancer pharmacologist interested in identifying and validating novel molecular targets in cancer for potential therapeutic interventions. Dr. Baines is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences with a joint appointment in the Cancer Research Program at North Carolina Central University (NCCU)’s Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute (BBRI). Also, Dr. Baines is an adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Baines, who came to North Carolina in 2001 as a postdoctoral fellow at UNC–Chapel Hill, joined the NCCU faculty in 2006 as an Assistant Professor. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Norfolk State University in 1995 and a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Arizona in 2001. In Arizona, Baines studied the molecular mechanisms and anticancer effects of the trace element selenium on colorectal cancer. At UNC-Chapel Hill, Baines transitioned to studying K-Ras, one of the most commonly mutated oncoproteins found in cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the 4th most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. As a postdoc, Baines’ research involved elucidating the roles of oncogenic K-Ras and downstream cell signaling pathways in the development and maintenance of pancreatic cancer. At NCCU, he studies numerous molecular targets that are involved in various phenotypes of pancreatic cancer such as aberrant cell growth and drug resistance. Overall, Baines is interested in the roles molecular targets play in the development and evolution of pancreatic cancer. (website)
Dr. Brian Wiegmann, is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Entomology at North Carolina State University. His research involves the phylogeny and evolution of flies and other insects using genomic data and phylogenetic analysis tools. A major goal is elucidating the genetic changes and adaptations that accompany or cause species biodiversity. Projects in the Wiegmann lab involve comparing genes and genomes in flies with specialized feeding habits—especially those that affect humans and livestock as blood feeders and disease vectors, such as mosquitoes, horse flies, sand flies, and stable flies. But his work also includes diverse groups of agricultural pests and insect parasitoids. Wiegmann received a BS in Biology from Loyola University in Maryland, and MS and Ph.D in Entomology from the University of Maryland, College Park. He has been a faculty member in the NCSU Department of Entomology since 1994. He served as Associate Director for Education and Outreach in the NSF-funded National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, NESCent.
Julie Horvath (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, jointly appointed at NC Central University), Associate Director
Dr. Julie Horvath is a comparative evolutionary genomicist interested in understanding the evolutionary forces that have shaped primate genomes and that cause human disease. Genetic and genomic comparisons between humans and our closest relatives, the primates, are crucial for understanding our own evolution and unique characteristics. The foundation of Dr. Horvath’s research is based on species relationships, or phylogenies, which she first established for lemurs, and more recently, for all primates. These species relationships are applied to many of her research questions. Several examples of Horvath’s research investigate the connection between genotype (DNA sequence) and phenotype (traits and characteristics) that make flora and fauna unique.
Dr. Horvath received a B.S. in Zoology with a concentration in Genetics from Michigan State University in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Genetics in 2004 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2008, Dr. Horvath became a founding member of the Duke University Primate Genomics Initiative, a joint partnership between the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University and the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. The goal of the Primate Genomics Initiative is to facilitate collaborative evolutionary genomics research projects between researchers using nonhuman and human primate models across diverse fields by combining research, training and service. Dr. Horvath is now the Director of the Genomics & Microbiology Research Laboratory in the Nature Research Center, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and is jointly appointed as Research Associate Professor in the Biology Department at North Carolina Central University where she teaches courses and advises graduate students. Dr. Horvath remains involved with the Duke University Primate Genomics Initiative where she is an adjunct member of the Evolutionary Anthropology Department.
Dr. Corbin Jones is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department as well as an Associate Professor of the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences (CCGS). The goal of his research is to identify, clone, and characterize the evolution of genes underlying natural adaptations in order to determine the types of genes involved, how many, and what types of genetic changes occurred, and the evolutionary history of these changes. Jones received his PhD from the University of Rochester and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California at Davis. His lab aims to develop new methods relevant to the study of evolutionary genomics including theoretical, bioinformatic and statistical approaches. This particular research falls into three areas: (1) developing novel methods for assembling genomes using high-throughput DNA sequencing, (2) examining spatial patterns of DNA sequence evolution, and (3) detecting genetic changes due to natural selection.