The Landis Lab studies the evolution of biodiversity: how has life radiated throughout and adapted to an ever-changing world? We study evolution by developing probabilistic models, writing open source and community-minded software, and analysing simulated and empirical data.

Biological research interests for the Landis Lab include phylogenetic inference, divergence time estimation, historical biogeography, the evolution of ecological interactions, phenotypic evolution, and pathogen and parasite spread.

Our methodological interests include phylogenetic model design, stochastic processes, Bayesian inference, deep learning, and probabilistic programming.

Visit the Research and Papers pages to learn more.

Lab info

     Michael Landis
     Assistant Professor
     Department of Biology
     Rebstock 210, Danforth Campus
     Washington Unversity in St. Louis

Interested in joining? We’re always looking for creative thinkers who study evolution! Visit the People page for more information.


May 2023
New perspective piece with Nate Upham in Science on how diverse genomic sequencing among mammal species teaches us new lessons about the evolutionary history of our clade (link).

Apr 2023
Sean McHugh just passed his qualifying exam on ecological niche evolution. Congrats, Sean!! 🥳

Albert Soewongsono has just joined our lab as a postdoctoral researcher to study statistical models of lineage diversification. Welcome, Albert!

Mar 2023
We just refreshed the lab website’s Research page to now feature recent projects and papers, and the People page to now feature a new Expectations & Values document, written collaboratively by our group.

Jan 2023
Added new websites dedicated to our NSF-funded Hawaiian plant radiation project (link) and our ITF-funded Ugandan viral phylogeography project (link).

Nov 2022
Thanks to the WUSTL Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures for funding our new project on viral phylogeography. In collaboration with Krista Milich (Anthropology) and Dave Wang (Pathology & Immunology).

Oct 2022
New paper in Annual Reviews on modeling the evolution of intimate ecological interactions among species using cophylogenetic methods. Paper available here.

Sep 2022
Sean McHugh has officially joined our group as a new PhD student. Sean is interested in how ecological traits evolve among phylogenetic lineages. Welcome, Sean!

Jul 2022
We’re hiring a 3yr postdoc to collaborate on phylogenetic models! Details for applying are here. Feel free to email me with any questions.

May 2022
I wrote a short article on inferring where anole ranges tend to split for Anole Annals, based on our recent paper on modeling historical bigoeography.

Apr 2022
Two cheers for Sarah Swiston for passing her qualifying exam and for being awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! 🎉🎉

Mar 2022
New study now published in PNAS, modeling how regional features of geography (e.g. oceans, distances) influence speciation, extinction, and dispersal rates. Read more here and here.

Oct 2021
With the re-opening of the lab this Fall, our group welcomes three new members – Dr. Fábio Mendes (postdoc), Sarah Swiston (PhD student), and Mihir Shah (undergrad) – and bids farewell to two others – Dr. Mariana Braga (postdoc) and Ernie Ramos (undergrad).

Jul 2021
We have a new paper out in Ecology Letters, introducing a new phylogenetic method to reconstruct how ecological networks (e.g. between plant and butterfly species) evolved over deep time scales. Read more here!

Jun 2021
Our very own Dr. Mariana Braga won the Publisher’s Award from Systematic Biology for her paper entitled “Bayesian inference of ancestral host–parasite interactions under a phylogenetic model of host repertoire evolution”. Nicely done, Mariana!

Apr 2021
We’re excited to welcome several new people who recently joined the lab. Dr. Ammon Thompson is a visiting scholar from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency who is working with us to develop phylogenetic methods to predict epidemiological outcomes. We’re also fortunate to have two new undergraduate researchers: Ernie Ramos is a math major interested in the relationship between ecology, habitat, and evolution; and Walker Sexton is a biology major interested in evolution, systematics, and paleogenomics.

Jan 2021
We’re hiring for a postdoc to study computational phylogenetics and biogeography. Application reviews begin 01 Feb 2021. Apply here!

Jan 2021
Our Viburnum work featured on the cover of this year’s first issue of Systematic Biology!

Nov 2020
The NSF funded our grant to model how plant lineages radiated throughout the Hawaiian archipelago! Work is in collaboration with Felipe Zapata (UCLA), Nina Ronsted (NTBG Hawaii), Warren Wagner (Smithsonian), Bruce Baldwin (UC Berkeley), and Will Freyman (23andMe).

May 2020
A second new paper in Systematic Biology by Michael and Yale colleagues was accepted, which introduces an inference framework to model how lineages shift among paleobiomes, also investigating the evolution of Viburnum.

May 2020
Our group was highlighted by the Society for the Study of Evolution in their monthly New Faculty Profiles. Read the interview here.

Apr 2020
Michael and collaborators from Yale have a new paper in Systematic Biology that introduces a phylogenetic method to jointly infer species relationships, divergence times, and ancestral ranges and biomes from extant and fossil taxa, applied to the plant clade, Viburnum.

Mar 2020
Mariana, Michael, and collaborators from Stockholm University and the Swedish Natural History Museum have published a new paper in Systematic Biology that introduces a phylogenetic model to estimate how the intimate species interactions co-evolved, with an application to host plant-butterfly co-evolution.

Mar 2020
With collaborators in Wash U School of Medicine, Michael has a new paper published in Cell Host & Microbe, investigating the evolutionary origin of an insertion sequence that confers resistances to alphavirus infections, such as Chikungunya, found only cows & their close relatives.

Dec 2019
Michael and collaborator Ignacio Quintero (ENS Paris) have a new paper that introduces a new framework for modeling the interdependent evolution of phenotypes and biogeography among co-evolving (e.g. competing) phylogenetic lineages, with an application in Darwin’s finches from the Galapagos.

Oct 2019
Dr. Mariana Braga has joined the lab as a postdoctoral researcher. Dr. Braga recently earned her PhD from Stockholm University, where she studied the co-evolution of plant-insect interactions. Welcome!

Sep 2019
We are actively recruiting PhD students to join us for Fall 2020! Interested applicants, please contact michael.landis@wustl.edu so we can learn more about you and your research interests, and so we can answer any questions you have about applying. Learn more about applications here.

Aug 2019
Just returned from the Workshop on Molecular Evolution for 2019 at MBL in beautiful ctenophorous Woods Hole, MA. Our lecture and lab materials for teaching Bayesian phylogenetics using RevBayes are hosted here – resources compiled by Dr. Tracy Heath!

Aug 2018
We are seeking researchers interested in studying evolutionary biology from a quantitative perspective. New lab members will design statistical models, develop scientific software methods, lead projects, and publish first-author papers. Postdoctoral and PhD student positions are to start in Summer/Fall 2019 (some flexibility). If interested, please email a brief statement of your research interests and a copy of your CV to michael.landis@wustl.edu. A broader invitation to apply will be published by December 1, 2018.