Michael DeNieu

Michael DeNieu

Title:
Postdoctoral Scientist
Email:
mdenieu@gwu.edu

Growing up in Colorado, I spent much of my time outdoors hiking and fishing, giving me a great appreciation for the natural world. In particular, I was interested in the reasons why animals and other organisms behave the way that they do. As an undergrad at St. Mary's College of California, I became interested in understanding the evolutionary forces that shape not only behavior, but also morphology and interactions between species. I worked on these questions using a variety of organisms, including turkey vultures, field mice, and plant viruses.

I had always intended to work in the field doing behavioral research, but my interest in genetics and evolution brought me to Michigan State University for my dissertation. There, I worked on a system using mantid predation on Drosophila in order to investigate questions about the process of evolution. Instead of observing adapted populations and inferring conclusions about patterns of natural selection, I used experimental evolution to observe the adaptive process and test for patterns directly. This approach allowed me to integrate my interests in evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, and genetics.

Now as a postdoc at GW, I am again working on an integrative project investigating the effects of the gut microbial community on cognition, behavior, and immunity. It is increasingly recognized that commensal microbes have profound effects on their hosts, and we are using Drosophila as a model to understand some of the mechanisms mediating this interaction.