My research interests span the boundary between philosophy and biology. At the broadest level, I am interested in understanding how complex systems evolve from simple systems. This is expressed in my Master's dissertation in philosophy, which looks at the conceptual foundations of applying the multilevel selection and major transitions framework from biology to human sociocultural evolution. It is also expressed in my PhD project, titled Early Evolution and Diversification of the Eumetazoa. The purpose of this project is to trace the origins of complex eumetazoan organisation by attempting to reconstruct the last common eumetazoan ancestor.
A major part of my PhD project includes answering the philosophical question of how one can integrate evidence pertaining to the early evolution of animals coming from such disparate fields as palaeontology, developmental genetics, phylogenomics, and comparative morphology. Of particular interest is the relationship between genetic and morphological homology and clarifying what the former has to say about the latter. Therefore, the conceptual part of my PhD project consists of applying conceptual tools from metaphysics and epistemology of science to the aforementioned abstract problems.
The empirical part of my PhD project mainly involves phylogenetic analysis of morphological traits of living and extant organisms, especially fossil organisms from the Ediacaran widely believed to be early metazoans as well as placozoans and cnidarians. My main traits of focus are the axial organisation of eumetazoans, their mode of growth, and their gastrulation. I also plan to study the expression of Homeobox gene expression in less well-studied cnidarian groups and investigate their role in axial organisation and early development in my final year of study.