Associate NIMBioS Director for Scientific Activities
Sergey Gavrilets is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and a leading researcher in theoretical and computational evolutionary biology with extensive international collaborations. He received his PhD in Physics and Mathematics from Moscow State University (USSR) in 1987. Dr. Gavrilets came to Knoxville in 1995 after spending one year in Toulouse (France) and three years in Davis (California) as a postdoc.
He uses mathematical models to study complex evolutionary processes, with current emphasis on the following areas: (1) Social and Cultural Evolution. He works on models of the evolution of human intelligence and of the dynamics of coalition and alliance formation. (2) Speciation and Adaptive Radiation. He is developing mathematical foundations for a general theory of speciation. (3) Sexual Conflict. He is developing the mathematical foundations of a dynamical theory of the evolutionary consequences of conflict between different sex-linked genes. (4) Holey Fitness Landscapes.
He advances a refined view of fitness landscapes that focuses on nearly neutral networks of high-fitness genotypes that extend throughout the genotype space. (5) Microevolutionary Processes and Macroevolutionary Patterns. He studies relationships across multiple evolutionary scales (from individuals to populations to species to clades).
Dr. Gavrilets has also worked with mathematical models that address the maintenance and dynamics of genetic variation in natural populations, phenotypic plasticity, frequency-dependent selection, maternal and parental effects, hybrid zones and clines, and spatially heterogeneous selection. He has authored a major monograph building a mathematical theory of speciation. He directs a large and active group of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from several disciplines, including students from groups underrepresented in sciences and engineering. He regularly teaches and leads courses at several international locations, has organized numerous workshops and symposia, and has reviewed grant proposals for national funding agencies in the US, UK, Switzerland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Israel, and Australia. He is a recipient of a 2008 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship to work on The Social Brain Hypothesis: Coevolution of Genes, Memes, and Social Networks.