Research Fellows Directory
Dr Andy Gardner
University of St Andrews
I work on Darwinian adaptation. Natural selection explains the appearance of design in the living world, but at what level is this design expected to manifest – at the level of the gene, or the individual, or society – and what is its function? Social evolution provides a window on this problem, by pitting the interests of genes, individuals and societies against each other. By developing and testing social evolution theory, I discover whose interests really matter in shaping the course of adaptive evolution. I develop general theory, and also tailor this theory for application to particular species, in order to facilitate experimental testing in the field and in the laboratory. I work on a wide range of biological systems, from disease-causing viruses, bacteria and malaria parasites, to insects, fish and humans. As well as clarifying the origin and purpose of organism design, a problem that has interested thinkers for millennia, this work has implications for medicine: better understanding of parasite adaptations highlights novel targets for antibiotic treatment and informs the development of other medical interventions.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)