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Faculty Highlights: Manus Patten, Ph.D. (Dept. of Biology)

Manus Patten, Ph.D. is a teaching professor in the Department of Biology at Georgetown. He received his Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Involvement in Research:

Dr. Patten is involved in research of evolutionary theory and genetics with a focus on conflicts that arise whenever natural selection on one population (or subpopulation) moves another population (or subpopulation) further from its evolutionary optimum, and vice versa. Some of these conflicts that he studies are between sexes, between parents and offspring, between genomes or cell lineages within a body, and between genes within a genome. The Patten Lab takes a theoretical approach to their work and aims to reveal which aspects of biology might be shaped by conflicts and how.


Dr. Patten first discovered his passion for evolutionary biology in his sophomore year as an undergraduate when he picked up a book by Stephen J. Gould, a prominent American paleontologist, and was enthralled by the abstract, arcane, and highly unique nature of the field. The book led him down a rabbit hole and to the realization that he could see himself pursuing such a career. His path to where he is today was certainly not a simple linear one as he was initially drawn towards a career as a field naturalist with Smithsonian but instead found his calling in a more theoretical lab. Throughout his journey, he also had many great mentors who advised and guided him along the way.


Dr. Patten has found his experience in research to be very interesting and rewarding as he sees research as an opportunity for a fun, creative release. His experiences of going to conferences and discussing with like-minded individuals were fulfilling and he found it enjoyable to meet with others who appreciate ideas through their work in similar fields. Looking back at his first time at one of these conferences, he found it exhilarating and memorable.

Advice for Students:

Dr. Patten highly recommends gaining experience in research fields in order to get hands-on experience with topics and ideas that otherwise would just be found in the classroom. Dr. Patten believes that there is a distinction between learning and doing research, which gives students the unique ability to actively participate in science.

Written by Danya Adams, Orion Gangopadhyay, and Nesreen Shahrour