Working at the interface between paleogenetics and the earth and planetary sciences, new faculty member Greg Fournier’s research seeks to link early Earth geochemistry with life history using DNA sequences from extant genomes.
Specifically, he is an expert in the use of fossil/biochemical age calibrations of horizontal gene-transfer (HGT) events to time-calibrate the “Tree of Life”.
Accomplishments of his short career include the identification of the HGT origin of acetoclastic methanogenesis and demonstration that it occurred at a time consistent with the Permian-Triassic extinction and the identification of the impact of partial gene transfer on the eukaryote "Eocyte" hypothesis, demonstrating that the evolution of Eukarya involved two histories and not a single evolution from Archaea. Looking forward, his research objectives include the time-calibration of microbial evolution and determination of its role in global biogeochemical change and the reconstruction of the evolutionary origins of eukaryotes and their co-evolution with the Proterozoic environment.
In this video he describes his work and his path to the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT.
Introducing: Geobiologist - Prof. Greg Fournier. Video credit: Helen Hill
Fournier received an A.B. degree in Genetics from Dartmouth (2001) and a Ph.D. in Genetics and Genomics from the University of Connecticut (2009). Since then he has worked as a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Connecticut and – in the past 4 years – as a Postdoc in MIT’s Biological Engineering Department.
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