Lab info

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

Our group studies the evolution of biodiversity: how has life radiated throughout and adapted to an ever-changing world? We research the relationship between evolutionary processes and patterns through statistical phylogenetics, with a particular interest in historical biogeography, the evolution of ecological interactions, and phenotypic evolution. To this end, we develop probabilistic models of evolution, write open source and community-minded software to analyze those models, and test evolutionary hypotheses by fitting those models to biological and simulated datasets.

Interested in joining? We’re always looking for creative thinkers who study evolution! Please email Michael directly to inquire about postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate research opportunities.


16 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).

29 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!

22 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!

27 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.

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

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

24 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).

27 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.

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

08 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.

19 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.

11 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.

20 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.

28 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!

03 Sep 2019
We are actively recruiting PhD students to join us for Fall 2020! Interested applicants, please contact 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.

01 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!

29 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 A broader invitation to apply will be published by December 1, 2018.