Laura Walker


Laura is interested in evolution and ecology of microbial eukaryotes. She received her B.S. in biology at Maryville University followed by an M.A. in biology at Washington University. Before identifying her interests in microbial eukaryotes and returning to graduate school, Laura spent six years working in Barry Sleckman’s lab, also at Washington University, investigating the genetic mechanisms involved in DNA damage and repair during lymphocyte development. Laura then attended the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, earning her Ph.D. in 2016 in the lab of Steven Stephenson. Her dissertation research studying the ecology of Myxomycetes (plasmodial slime molds) in the tropical forests of Panama was funded by two fellowships from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and a DDIG from the NSF. Through this work, she found that Myxomycetes -like plants and numerous other groups in the tropics- appear to be limited by the availability of phosphorus. Before joining the Strassmann/Queller lab in 2018, Laura was a postdoctoral fellow at Smith College where she used single-cell transcriptomics to investigate molecular evolution of an amoeboid group, the Rhizaria. In the Strassmann/Queller lab, Laura plants to apply genomic tools to investigate the evolution and maintenance of multicellularity in Dictyostelids and explore the ecology of Dictyostelids in the wild.

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