Eric Libby

Eric Libby2024-04-30T14:58:52+02:00


Associate Professor.

Major transitions in evolution.

Avid fan of charismatic microfauna.

The evolution of life on earth has been shaped by a few pivotal events. One of the most significant of these events was the evolution of multicellularity.  It is hard to imagine our world before the appearance of multicellular organisms—especially because almost everything we can see with the naked eye is multicellular. Eric Libby’s research explores the conditions that make it possible for multicellularity to evolve and the impact being multicellular has on the evolution of complex life. In essence, he is interested in how simple organisms evolve into complex ones.

Eric’s journey to IceLab was long and wandering. He graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas with a degree in Computational and Applied Mathematics. He then drove to Montreal to do a PhD with Leon Glass at the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics at McGill University. There Eric modeled genetic networks, did some bioinformatics/systems biology, and taught mathematical biology to physiology students. Afterwards, Eric did a stint as a science journalist in Washington DC as part of a AAAS Mass Media Fellowship. He left North America for the South Pacific to do a postdoc with Paul Rainey in microbial evolution at the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study. Missing snakes and uncuddly plants, his next position was as an Omidyar fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. After hiking in the arid, sunny Southwest he moved with his family to Umeå to see winter before it goes extinct from the world.

Current Projects

  • The evolution of complex multicellular traits

    Eric Libby (IceLab), William Ratcliffe (Georgia Tech), Peter Yunker (Georgia Tech)

  • The origins of eukaryotes via endosymbiosis

    Eric Libby (IceLab), Chris Kempes (Santa Fe Institute), Jordan Okie (Arizona State University)

  • The evolution and tuning of life cycles

    Eric Libby (IceLab), Mimi Koehl (UC Berkeley), William Ratcliffe (Georgia Tech)

  • Microbial trade and the evolution of syntrophy

    Eric Libby (IceLab), Andreas Wagner (University of Zurich), Laurent Hebert-Dufresne (University of Vermont)

  • Agnostic Biosignatures

    Eric Libby (IceLab) and collaborators from the Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures (LAB). The LAB team includes planetary scientists, biologists, chemists, computer scientists, mathematicians, and veteran instrument scientists. The investigators hail from eight US universities and institutions as well as two foreign universities.  Research is funded by the NASA Astrobiology Program. More information here:

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