Heather Goldsby

My Research

Cells in your body, leafcutter ants in a eusocial colony, and factory workers in a plant are just a few examples of groups exhibiting division of labor strategies in order to survive and thrive. My research explores hypotheses for why division of labor is an adaptive strategy and the role division of labor plays within the major transitions of evolution. These issues are extremely challenging to study using organic systems because of the slow pace of evolution and imperfect historical data. To address these challenges, I perform experiments using digital organisms (populations of self-replicating computer programs that undergo open-ended evolution). Insights from these experiments shed light on evolutionary questions surrounding division of labor and can also be applied to evolving solutions to engineering problems, such as developing teams of specialist robots that must cooperate to achieve an overall objective. This research is funded by an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship


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