Paul Turner, Yale


Paul Turner headshot


Predicting evolution of virus emergence



Pathogen emergence occurs in many ways, but an overarching goal is to generally predict which pathogens are poised to emerge in the future. From an evolutionary-process perspective, this problem can be addressed by studying four interrelated topics that dictate success (or not) of pathogen emergence: evolvability, adaptability, constraint, and extinction. This talk emphasizes the power of experimental evolution to elucidate rules of pathogen emergence, especially in rapidly-evolving viruses. Also, the talk stresses why molecular biology and genomics can reveal crucial mechanistic details of experimental evolution, and why bridges to disciplines such as data/computer science and the participation of a diverse workforce are vital for studying emergence.



Paul Turner is the Elihu Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and faculty member in Microbiology at Yale School of Medicine. He studies the evolutionary genetics of viruses, particularly bacteriophages that specifically infect bacterial pathogens, and RNA viruses that are vector-transmitted by mosquitoes. Dr. Turner received a Biology degree (1988) from University of Rochester, and Ph.D. (1995) in Zoology from Michigan State University. He did postdoctoral training at National Institutes of Health, University of Valencia in Spain, and University of Maryland-College Park, before joining Yale's Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department in 2001. His service to the profession includes Chair of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Division on Evolutionary and Genomic Microbiology, as well as membership on the National Science Foundation's Biological Sciences Advisory Committee, ASM Committee on Minority Education, and multiple National Research Council advisory committees. Dr. Turner was elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Councilor of the American Genetic Association, Chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Microbial Population Biology, and Chair of the CNRS Jacques Monod Conference on Viral Emergence. He chaired the Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship award committee for ASM, and received the E.E. Just Endowed Research Fellowship and William Townsend Porter Award from Marine Biological Laboratory, and fellowships from Woodrow Wilson Foundation, NSF, NIH and HHMI. Dr. Turner has served as Director of Graduate Studies and as Chair of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Yale, as well as Yale's Dean of Science and Chair of the Biological Sciences Advisory and Tenure Promotion Committees.