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The Fish Evo Devo Geno Lab at Michigan State University (PI: Ingo Braasch) is recruiting highly motivated PhD students interested in working on the genomic basis of vertebrate evolution and development to start in Summer/Fall 2020.

The Braasch Lab focuses on genomic and developmental changes that contribute to major transitions during the course of vertebrate evolution and studies evolutionary novelties at the levels of genome structure, gene family evolution, and gene regulation. We combine sequencing and comparative analyses of fish genomes with analyses of molecular evolution and functional genetic and developmental approaches (CRISPR genome editing, transgenics, gene expression analyses, epigenomic profiling) in a variety of model species (zebrafish, spotted gar, medaka, and others).

Graduate projects fall within the following broader research areas of the group:

  1. Evolutionary genomic analyses of zebrafish and other biomedical fish models

Combining genomic sequence comparisons, gene expression analyses and epigenomic profiling, we aim to improve connectivity of teleost biomedical fish models such as zebrafish, medaka, killifishes, etc. to human biology and disease. We use ‘bridge species’ such as spotted gar to translate biomedical research from zebrafish to human and vice versa. This work is support by the NIH.


  1. Genomic and morphological evolution of fishes

How do morphological differences among fish and other vertebrate lineages arise from diversification of gene repertoires? What is the role of gen(om)e duplications and gene losses in generating phenotypic diversity? How do changes in gene regulation contribute to evolutionary novelties and key innovations? We study a number of gene families that are of particular importance for the evolution of the vertebrate body plan, e. g. genes involved in development of the vertebrate-specific neural crest cells.

  1. Conquest of land and ‘fish-out-of-water’

We are studying genomic changes and their functional consequences leading to the evolution of tetrapods from fishes and other ‘fish-out-of-water’ scenarios, including the evolutionary loss of genes at the water-to-land transition and the gene regulatory basis of hatching.

For additional information on our research, see also Braasch et al. 2016, Nature Genetics (doi:10.1038/ng.3526) and Braasch et al. 2015, JEZB (doi:10.1002/jez.b.22589).

The Fish Evo Devo Geno Lab is part of the Department of Integrative Biology (IBIO), the Ecology, Evolutionary, and Behavior Program (EEBB), the Genetics and Genome Sciences Graduate Program at Michigan State University, and member of the NSF BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.

MSU IBIO has a strong research commitment to vertebrate biology with a highly collaborative community of groups working on vertebrate and fish evolution, genomics, development, population genetics, neuroscience, behavior, ecology, and conservation, allowing for vibrant exchange among fields, methods and model systems.


Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in biology, genetics, genomics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, developmental biology, zoology or related fields. Suitable candidates should be enthusiastic about working in an interdisciplinary manner and have a passion for fish/vertebrate biology and evolution. Previous research experience in a relevant area is desired, but not required.


Students will be admitted through the MSU IBIO Graduate Program ( and the MSU Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program ( Another possible route of admission is through the MSU Genetics and Genome Sciences Graduate Program within the MSU BioMolecular Science Gateway (

Application deadline for the MSU IBIO and Genetics Graduate Programs are December 1, 2019.


Financial support is provided through research and teaching assistantships and the PI’s external funding. Competitive applicants will be eligible for university fellowships and supported in applying for graduate fellowships from NSF, NIH, and other agencies.

Interested candidates should email Ingo Braasch ( in advance of the application deadlines on December 1.

Please include the following in your email:

  1. Brief description of your research interests and how they align with pursuing a PhD in vertebrate Evo-Devo and genomics
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Names and email contacts of 2-3 references

We are looking forward to your application!

Ingo Braasch

Assistant Professor

Department of Integrative Biology

College of Natural Science

Michigan State University; phone: +1 (517) 432-3484

Twitter: @fishevodevogeno

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