Welcome to the Schuster Lab at Penn State
Research in the Schuster Lab aims at charting genetic diversity of organisms at the genomic level and understanding the role and impact of such diversity in the environment. Using a combination of next-generation sequencing and ancient DNA techniques, we study the natural history of a wide range of biological systems over extended periods of time. Because many of the species we investigate have generation times similar to our own, the study of specimens (historic or fossilized) dating back hundreds to tens of thousands of years enables us to develop relevant population genetics insights. Our overall goal is to better understand documented extinction events and perform comparative analysis of today’s remaining populations of endangered species. The systems we investigate include all areas of the tree of life: microbial organisms, plants, animals and humans. As many of the projects involve mixtures of DNA from various sources, we have developed advanced experimental and bioinformatics approaches for assessing the species distribution within any given sample. These techniques have enabled metagenomic study of both environmental and collection specimens at the highest throughput level.
Other study areas include speciation events, adaptive radiation, lineage diversification, biogeography and species extinction. Biological disciplines pursued include genomics, comparative genomics, paleogenomics, bioinformatics, biodiversity, molecular evolution, phylogenetics, natural history, conservation biology and molecular microbial ecology.