Purugganan, Michael

Michael Purugganan

Professor of Biology

Michael Purugganan is the Dorothy Schiff Professor of Genomics; Professor of Biology; and in 2011 was appointed Dean for Science in the FAS. Professor Purugganan studies the evolutionary forces that act in plant developmental networks at the species level, which involves mapping and isolating genes that underlie natural variation that are responsible for plant adaptation. His interests also include exploring the “ecological transciptome” – the dynamic gene networks found in plants in ecological environments. This work combines concepts and techniques in evolutionary and quantitative genomics, developmental biology, evolutionary ecology, and computational biology.

Dr. Michael Purugganan received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines (1985), an M.A. from Columbia University (1986) and a Ph.D. in Botany with a Global Policy minor at the University of Georgia (1993). After obtaining his Ph.D., he did postdoctoral research as an Alfred P. Sloan Molecular Evolution Fellow at the University of California in San Diego, studying the evolution of development (1993-1995).

Dr. Purugganan is an internationally recognized leader in the field of evolutionary and ecological genomics. The deep theme of his work focuses on identifying the molecular basis for evolutionary adaptations that occur in nature. Prior to joining the NYU faculty in 2006, he was the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Genetics at North Carolina State University, where he also won the Outstanding Faculty Research Award and the Sigma Xi Research Prize. He is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Young Investigator Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, is a Kavli Fellow, and in 2005 was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Purugganan is on the editorial boards of the journals Genome Biology and Evolution, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Trends in Plant Science.

In addition to his outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of evolutionary biology, Dr. Purugganan is a gifted teacher who is deeply committed to both graduate and undergraduate education. For example, upon arriving to NYU in 2006, he created a very popular Freshman Honors Seminar class entitled “Bread, Wine and Genes: The Evolution of Food Species”. He was also instrumental in modernizing and improving a major course in his department, Principles of Biology, a key entry-level biology course, which he then helped to team-teach for 6 years. At the upper-division level, he developed an “Evolutionary Genomics” course and has contributed significantly to creating and teaching Foundations of Science at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Finally, Dr. Purugganan has been extremely active in providing undergraduates a hands-on research experience in his laboratory.  He has mentored more than 30 undergraduate students, several of which are co-authors in peer-reviewed research papers. As a reflection of the impact of this mentoring and training, undergraduates who spent time in Dr. Purugganan’s  laboratory have gone on to graduate school or medical school at Duke, Princeton, UNC Chapel Hill, Mt Sinai, Cornell, and UC Berkeley.