Faculty and Research

The professoriate at OIST numbers about 60 faculty members with strongly international backgrounds, each leading cutting edge research in a range of disciplines. OIST does not have traditional academic departments, but you can use the tabs or keyword search to find faculty members according to their discipline or research topics. For information about the availability of PhD student placement in each unit, please refer here. 

To learn more about the Evolutionary Genomics Unit (Tom Bourguignon) visit the unit website
Tom Bourguignon
PhD Biological Sciences (Free University of Brussels, 2010)
Master of Advanced Studies in Sciences (Free University of Brussels, 2006)
Master in Biological Sciences (Free University of Brussels, 2005)

The Evolutionary Genomics Unit uses next generation sequencing technologies to answer fundamental questions in ecology and evolution. The Unit’s main research themes focus on the evolution of symbiosis between insects and bacteria, the origin of organism geographical distribution, and the molecular evolution of insect defensive mechanisms. These research topics are investigated using a combination of molecular phylogenetics, genomics and transcriptomics. 

To learn more about the Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit (Evan P. Economo) visit the unit website
Evan Economo
BSc, the University of Arizona
PhD, The University of Texas

Our research explores how ecological and evolutionary processes generate and sustain biodiversity, and how those processes are being altered by human activities. Toward that end, our lab integrates mathematical theory, field work, genomic sequencing, and ecoinformatics approaches to documenting and understanding biodiversity.  We have projects focusing on the dynamics of ant communities in the Pacific islands, global diversity patterns in ants, and the evolution of “hyperdiverse” radiations.  On a more local scale, we have recently established an environmental observation network across Okinawa to monitor local ecosystems (the OKEON Chura-Mori project), an effort we are pursuing in collaboration with the people of Okinawa.

To learn more about the Ecology and Evolution Unit (Alexander Mikheyev) visit the unit website
Alexander Mikheyev
BA, Cornell University
MS, The Florida State University
PhD, The University of Texas

Evolution is the unifying principle of life sciences. Recent technological advances have revolutionized the way it is studied, providing new insights into historical questions. The Ecology and Evolution Unit utilizes cutting-edge technology to address a wide range of research questions. The Unit’s investigations have included coevolution of mutualists, landscape genetics of adaptation by herbivores to host plants, genomic changes in little fire ant castes that influence invasiveness, coevolution of leaf-cutting ants and their cultivated fungi, and proteomics of pit viper venoms. Future projects will employ massive sequencing of environmental samples and museum collections to link major themes in ecology and evolution.

Simone Pigolotti
Ph.D. Statistical and Biological Physics (SISSA/ISAS, 2004)
Degree in Physics (University of Rome)

The Biological Complexity Unit studies how stochastic fluctuations affect the dynamics of biological systems. We are interested in phenomena ranging from accuracy of molecular reactions inside cells to population genetics of aquatic microorganisms transported by fluid flows. We aim at understanding the behavior of these systems by applying analytical techniques from non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and computational approaches.

Biological Complexity Unit (Simone Pigolotti)