Paul Turner is the Elihu Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and faculty member in Microbiology at Yale School of Medicine. He studies the evolutionary genetics of viruses, particularly bacteriophages that specifically infect bacterial pathogens, and RNA viruses that are vector-transmitted by mosquitoes. Dr. Turner received a Biology degree (1988) from University of Rochester, and Ph.D. (1995) in Zoology from Michigan State University. He did postdoctoral training at National Institutes of Health, University of Valencia in Spain, and University of Maryland-College Park, before joining Yale’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department in 2001. His service to the profession includes Chair of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Division on Evolutionary and Genomic Microbiology, as well as membership on the National Science Foundation’s Biological Sciences Advisory Committee, ASM Committee on Minority Education, and multiple National Research Council advisory committees. Dr. Turner was elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Councilor of the American Genetic Association, Chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Microbial Population Biology, and Chair of the CNRS Jacques Monod Conference on Viral Emergence. He chaired the Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship award committee for ASM, and received the E.E. Just Endowed Research Fellowship and William Townsend Porter Award from Marine Biological Laboratory, and fellowships from Woodrow Wilson Foundation, NSF, NIH and HHMI. Dr. Turner has served as Director of Graduate Studies and as Chair of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Yale, as well as Yale’s Dean of Science and Chair of the Biological Sciences Advisory and Tenure Promotion Committees.

Research Interests

The main focus of Paul Turner's research is to study the evolutionary genetics and genomics of microbes, especially the ability of viruses to adapt (or not) to changes in their biotic and abiotic environments. These studies concern environmental challenges faced by viruses at all levels of biological organization, including effects of changes in molecules, proteins, cells, populations, communities and ecosystems. His work is highly interdisciplinary, employing microbiology, computational biology, genomics, molecular biology and mathematical-modeling approaches, and especially experimental evolution ('evolution-in-action') studies under controlled laboratory conditions. Turner uses a wide variety of RNA and DNA viruses in his studies, including various lytic, temperate and filamentous phages that infect bacteria. Also, his research examines arthropod-borne viruses, such as vesicular stomatitis virus, Sindbis virus, dengue virus, and chikungunya virus, grown in lab tissue culture and within live mosquitoes. Many of these projects use basic research to test fundamental ideas, such as theoretical predictions of virus disease emergence and of virus evolvability. Other projects are more applied and concern evolutionary medicine. For example, Turner uses 'evolution-thinking' to develop novel virus-based therapies to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and to attack cancer cells.

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Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology

Secondary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology