Rick MichodRick Michod

Dr. Richard E. Michod received his M.S. in Mathematics and Ph.D. in Zoology at the University of Georgia in 1978 studying life history evolution and kin selection with Dr. Wyatt Anderson. He also studied with John Maynard Smith at the University of Sussex. He joined the faculty at the University of Arizona in 1978 and has since studied the evolution of cooperation, evolution of sex, and evolutionary transitions in individuality. He uses mathematical models, experiments with bacteria and algae, and philosophical methods in his work. Dr. Michod spends much of his spare time sailing or at his self-built, solar-powered ranch.

Graduate Students

Erik HanschenErik Hanschen

Erik is interested in the evolution of multicellularity and has a special interest in convergent evolution during the evolution of multicellularity. He uses a comparative genomics approach to identify the genetic basis for multicellularity, when it evolved, and how this informs conceptual frameworks regarding the evolution of multicellularity. Additionally, Erik is testing his pet hypothesis that multicellularity evolved at the tops of mountains and the bottoms of canyons. While no multicellular algae have been found at these locations, investigation of additional field sites is required before rejecting this hypothesis. Visit his website.

Zach Grochau-WrightZach Grochau-Wright

Zach is broadly interested in the evolution of complex organisms from simpler ancestors. In particular he is interested in understanding the mechanisms by which complexity evolves such as the evolution of cooperation and the cooption of gene regulatory networks present in simpler ancestors to serve new functions in more complex descendants. In his spare time Zach enjoys hiking, rock climbing, juggling and playing guitar. He’s also interested in conducting science outreach with the public and teaching.

Zach Grochau-WrightDinah Davison

Dinah is interested in how environmental fluctuations may have affected the evolution of the Volvocine algae. She will be focusing on the ways in which environmental stressors lead to epigenetic changes and alter selection pressures. She received her master’s degree in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Bath and her bachelor’s degree in Animal Biology from UC Davis, where she specialized in primate behavior. Dinah also enjoys riding horses, hiking, and studying primates.


Patrick FerrisPatrick Ferris

Patrick has been working with the Volvocine algae using molecular biology approaches for several decades. He has researched the regulation of sex determination and the evolution of sex chromosomes in volvocine algae. In his spare time Patrick enjoys hiking, film, theatre and following politics.


Associated Researchers

Pierre Durand

Pierre is a principle investigator at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; adjunct profressor at the University of Arizona and senior researcher in the Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Biosciences. The overall theme of Pierre's collaboration with Rick is the molecular and cellular basis for the evolution of complexity. Current projects deal with the emergence of programmed death in the unicellular world; the origins of complex networks at the origin of life and the transition to multicellularity in the volvocine algae. Visit his website.

Past Lab Members and Collaborators

Deborah Shelton

Matthew Herron Visit his website

Cristian Solari

Aurora Nedelcu Visit her website

Join Our Team

Interested students and postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to email Dr. Michod. Applicants should have theoretical or empirical background and be interested in evolutionary transitions in individuality.