Associate Professor, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology; Director, Bioinformatics Degree Program

Michael Barker

Educational Backgroun:
    B.S. Biology, Denison University, 2001
    M.S. Botany, Miami University, 2003
    Ph.D. Evolutionary Biology, Indiana University, 2009
Mike Barker is an evolutionary biologist studying the origins of biological diversity, particularly how abrupt genomic changes such as polyploidy, chromosomal change, and hybridization have contributed to the evolution of plant diversity. Biologists have long been fascinated by these processes because they create unique opportunities for the evolution of ecological and phenotypic novelty with the potential for relatively rapid speciation. Although assessing the importance of these abrupt changes has historically been a difficult task, advances in genomics and bioinformatics have created new opportunities for addressing these longstanding questions. To address these questions, the Barker Lab has developed new approaches to infer ancient and recent polyploidy across the tree of life. These include new machine learning methods that have increased the efficiency of genomic analyses of polyploidy. Ongoing research in the lab is focused on developing new models and theory to understand the evolution of chromosome numbers, deep learning approaches to study ancient whole genome duplications, and new population genomic methods for the analysis of contemporary polyploid species. Mike’s research efforts have been recognized with the NSERC-BRITE Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia (2010) and the Emerging Leader Award from the Botanical Society of America (2016).
Area(s) of Interest:
  • Machine Learning
  • Large Scale Visualization
  • Data Science Literacy