Cooperation, Cheating and Collapse in Biological Populations: 2015 Mohammed Dahleh Distinguished Lecture


Monday, November 30, 2015 - 3:30pm


ESB 1001


Dr. Jeff Gore, Physics, MIT

Natural populations can suffer catastrophic collapse in response to small changes in the environment, and recovery after such a collapse can be difficult. We have used laboratory microcosms to explore theoretically proposed early warning signals of impending population collapse. Our experimental yeast populations cooperatively break down the sugar sucrose, meaning that below a critical size, the population cannot sustain itself. The cooperative nature of yeast growth on sucrose makes the population susceptible to the spread of "cheater" cells, which do not contribute to the public good and reduce the resilience of the population.

Bio: Jeff Gore is Associate Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has wide-ranging research interesting from ecological dynamics to single-molecule research. His biophysics laboratory uses microbial populations to experimentally probe fundamental ideas in theoretical ecology and evolutionary systems biology.

Jeff's recognitions and honors include an NIH New Innovator Award, NIH K99/R00 Pathways to Independence Award, and an NSF CAREER Award. He is a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, a Sloan Research Fellow, and an Allen Distinguished Investigator. He has also been recognized at MIT for his efforts in teaching and mentoring; in 2011 he was chosen as the MIT-wide undergraduate research (UROP) mentor of the year and in 2013 he received the Buechner Teaching Award from the Physics Department.

Jeff Gore is the 13th recipient of the Mohammed Dahleh Distinguished Lecturer Award (2003-15). More information on this award is found at

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