Armin P. Moczek Professor of Biology Indiana University Department of Biology Indiana Molecular Biology Institute Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior Programs in Cognitive Sciences and Neuroscience

Postal Address: Indiana University, 915 E. Third Street, Myers Hall 150, Bloomington, IN 47405-7107
phone (office): 812-856 1468
phone (lab): 812-856 1783

I am an evolutionary developmental biologist broadly interested in understanding why and how developmental evolution has unfolded the way it has, why and how novel complex traits originated when they did, and the future of developmental evolution on a rapidly changing planet. In all of this I pay particular attention to the mechanisms and consequences of developmental plasticity, which growing evidence implicates as a key enabler of evolutionary diversification. More recently I have also become interested in symbiosis and niche construction as additional facilitators of evolutionary change. Lastly, in a somewhat parallel life I study – in collaboration with colleagues at IU’s School of Education – the teaching and learning of complex systems in young children, and am heavily invested in science outreach and minority recruitment into STEM

I have arrived at my research foci through a combination of luck, serendipity, and planning. As a Masters student at the Julius Maximilians University in Würzburg, Germany, I was originally trained as a tropical biologist and worked on the ecological mechanisms maintaining arboreal arthropod diversity in the canopy of tropical rainforests in Sabah, Borneo from 1992-94. I had always been interested in behavioral and evolutionary ecology but this interest did not flourish until I had the opportunity to visit Duke University’s Zoology Department as an exchange student ’94-95. Here I became introduced to types of research and ways of thinking entirely new to me. I initially remained focused on tropical biology, but quickly started to work on questions in insect behavior and evolutionary ecology, and became perhaps most fascinated by Fred Nijhout’s work on the evo devo of butterfly wing patterns. This was my first introduction to the notion that one could learn something fundamental about the evolutionary process by understanding how organisms build themselves through ontogeny. And in Fred’s lab, all this was done in the incredibly aesthetic context of butterfly wings. It was clear to me that this was the place I wanted to be, so I used my work as an exchange student for my German Master’s thesis and returned to the Duke Biology PhD program the following year (’96). I never ended up working on butterflies, but evo devo of one shape or form has been at the core of my research ever since.

In 2002 I then moved to the University of Arizona as a PERT postdoctoral researcher. Here, Lisa Nagy provided me with the key opportunity to begin developing molecular genetic resources for the Onthophagus system. This was another critical event, at a critical time, without which my research would not be where it is now. Thanks to Lisa, and with additional input and encouragement from Diana Wheeler, I learned to also think like a molecular biologist and developmental geneticists, within the ever growing framework of evo devo. The resulting combination then provided the starting point for my research group at IU which took its baby steps in the Fall of ’04. Please consult the research page for information on our current research projects and the link below for more formal biographical information.

Curriculum vitae: For a detailed CV, Click Here


We are a diverse group of scientists interested in understanding the origins of novel, complex traits in development and evolution.


Read more about the various projects underway in the lab, and our work towards understanding innovation in the natural world.


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