Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2022
Home Department: Applied Physics
Faculty Advisors: Benjamin Good (Applied Physics) and Ami Bhatt (Medicine - Hematology and Genetics)

Research Title: High-resolution Dynamics of Bacterial Recombination Through Timescale Separation

Research Description: The horizontal exchange of genetic material within a bacterial species, known as recombination, is universal and impacts many aspects of bacterial evolution. Despite this importance, the mechanisms and dynamics of recombination remain poorly characterized. Existing statistical (parametric) approaches that leverage simple null models that reflect random processes in population genetics often omit key factors like natural selection. Zhiru aims to address this gap by developing new theory and analysis methods that exploit the broad range of timescales available in the human gut microbiome. These approaches will enable Zhiru, in collaboration with the Good and the Bhatt labs to resolve individual recombination events, providing concrete insights into how bacteria recombine and evolve in natural settings.