Professor Patricia Wittkopp was one of six evolutionary biologists invited by the prestigious journal Cell to share their views on the “Big Questions in Evolution.” Their responses were published in the July 2016 journal.

Wittkopp wrote about developmental biases in evolution. “Contemporary evolutionary biology has been built upon a rich foundation of theoretical models providing hypotheses for how and why biodiversity came to be. When most of these models were developed, little was known about the mechanisms of  inheritance that connect one generation to the next nor about how this hereditary material directs the development of diverse lifeforms,” she begins. “With the basic mechanisms of genetics and development now known, evolutionary biologists have been able to ask how genetic changes have altered development to produce diverse phenotypes.”

Read Wittkopp’s full response, in which she highlights two of today’s major evolutionary biology questions. The answers to questions could lead to potential paths to help fight cancer, manage disease outbreaks and bioengineer solutions to diverse challenges in the changing world.