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PhD student Katherine Skocelas to study how immune systems evolve

February 1, 2021

Katherine Skocelas, a PhD student in the MSU College of Engineering and the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Program, has been awarded a three-year National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. She is one of two Spartan Engineers named an NDSEG Fellow this summer.

Skocelas is in her second year as an MSU doctoral student, pursuing a dual-PhD in Computer Science and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior. She will use the fellowship to study evolutionary dynamics and complex diseases using digital evolution systems.

Katherine Skocelas is awarded a prestigious NDSEG Fellowship to advance her studies.
Katherine Skocelas will advance her studies in digital evolution with an NDSEG Fellowship.

Her research is in the Digital Evolution Laboratory (DevoLab) at the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Her adviser is Charles Ofria, professor of computer science and engineering and director of DevoLab,  where researchers study natural evolution to solve computational, engineering, and biological problems.

“With the NDSEG Fellowship, I will be leveraging the process of evolution to create and study biologically-inspired artificial immune system algorithms for distributed networks,” Skocelas said. “My goal is to advance the understanding of evolution as applied to coordinated networks, importing fundamental insights from biology into computer science, and paving the way for a new generation of robust and effective distributed algorithms.

“I hope to gain new insights into host-parasite coevolution and the ways in which immune systems can evolve,” she continued.

Prior to attending MSU, Skocelas completed two degrees at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) - a master’s degree in computer information systems and a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations.

Read more at EGR.