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Msu Gets $22.5m to Continue Evolution Research


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A view of evolution.

The BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action is bringing together biologists, computer scientists, and engineers to study modern evolution in humans, nature, and computers.

Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

Michigan State University (MSU) researchers are studying modern evolution in humans, nature, and computers at the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.

The goal of the center is to bring biologists, computer scientists, and engineers together to study evolution in real time and apply that knowledge to solve real-world problems. Areas of study include evolution of disease, understanding and reducing the evolution of antibiotic resistance, and evolution of "digital organisms" in computer environments.

Headquartered at MSU, the BEACON Center comprises about 600 people ranging from senior professors to undergraduates doing summer research, says center director Erik Goodman. At any time, about 100 projects are underway in pure and applied research, along with education and outreach. Partners include North Carolina A&T State University, the University of Idaho, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Washington.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded MSU its first five-year grant of $25 million in 2010, and in July 2015 officials renewed the grant for an additional five years. "The renewal is because they have made such fantastic progress and have really changed the landscape in evolutionary computation and evolutionary biology," says NSF's George Gilchrist.

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