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The Wesley Swingley Lab


About Us

Photo of Wesley SwingelyOur research focuses on the genomes of modern microbes, which represent natural repositories of the evolutionary history of life on Earth. Our research focuses on significantly expanding our knowledge of this molecular record by accessing whole genomes of major new microbial groups that are often known by only a single gene sequence. Since these organisms inhabit primitive Earth-like environments, genomic and emergent physiological data represent key pieces in the puzzle of understanding the first stages of life on Earth, and may provide important insights into the early evolution of key metabolic processes. In addition, Our projects provide a framework for understanding microorganisms with potentially fundamentally different metabolisms, which is part and parcel for evaluating the question: Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?

One of the central challenges in understanding how biodiversity is shaped by the environment is the sheer complexity of microbial ecosystems. Progress in understanding biodiversity has been driven by studying carefully chosen cross-sections of complex ecosystems or focusing on a few culturable keystone organisms within the larger community. Because microbes play a pivotal role in shaping ecosystems: from driving planetary-scale biogeochemical cycles to provoking the origin and evolution of functional diversity in higher organisms, our work seeks to clarify the reciprocal interactions between the microbial majority and their environment.

Our research focuses on three approaches to tackle the central challenges in analyzing complex environmental communities: 1) to develop novel computational techniques to inform a new generation of genomic and community genomic data; 2) to model the co-evolution of organisms and the environment; and 3) to illuminate the evolutionary origin and history of phenotypes and environmental adaptation.

Research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students available! Contact: Wesley D. Swingley,


Photo of Wesley Swingley

Wesley D. Swingley
Department of Biological Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Office: MO 333
Phone: (815) 753-7835
Lab: MO 312
Lab Phone: (815) 753-7812