About Hanon

I am an undergraduate student at Harvard University. I will graduate in May 2018 with an A.B. in Integrative Biology.

I am interested in the evolution of proteins in their organismal, genomic, and environmental context. Because proteins (and their regulatory elements) represent one of the simplest levels of biological organization on which natural selection acts, they can be considered in the very different frameworks developed for molecular evolution and macroevolution, and so be used to interrogate agreement and disagreement between the frameworks.

My approach to protein evolution is informed by paleobiology, structural biochemistry, and biogeochemistry. In addition to protein macroevolution, I want to use proteins to study earth history. With a neutralist understanding that adaptive mutations are rare in molecular evolution, and a paleobiological understanding of how clades of organisms adapt and radiate over geologic time, I hope to use instances of adaptation and radiation in proteins to address questions of ancient selective pressures and geochemical change.

Metalloproteins are particularly cool for those of us interested in earth history. They catalyze important and  complex interactions and are often highly conserved among taxa, and the availability of their cofactors has varied considerably over geologic time. Nitrogenase (below; my rendering of PDB ID 1M34) has the highest metal requirement of any protein on the planet. Go to my research page to read more about nitrogenase!

Nitrogenase (PDB ID 1M34)