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Antonis Rokas, Ph.D.

Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Biological Sciences
Professor of Biological Sciences, Professor of Biomedical Informatics
Director, Vanderbilt Evolutionary Studies Initiative

Antonis Rokas grew up in Elefsina, Greece, a small industrial town 15 miles northwest of Athens. He received his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Crete, Greece (1993-1998), which is where he got the bug to become an evolutionary biologist, and his PhD from Edinburgh University, Scotland (1998-2001), which is where he became one. He obtained further training, first as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2002 – 2005), and later as a research scientist at the Broad Institute (2005 – 2007), before arriving in Nashville and at Vanderbilt (2007 – present). He is currently a Professor in the Departments of Biological Sciences and of Biomedical Informatics, the Director of the Evolutionary Studies Initiative, and the holder of the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Biological Sciences.

Research in the Rokas laboratory focuses on the study of the DNA record to gain insight into the patterns and processes of evolution. Through a combination of computational and experimental approaches, his laboratory’s current research aims to understand the molecular foundations of the fungal lifestyle, the reconstruction of the tree of life, and the evolution of human pregnancy.

Rokas and his team have co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles that have collectively received more than 20,000 citations. The team’s research has been recognized by many awards, including a Searle Scholarship (2008), an NSF CAREER award (2009), and an endowed chair (2013). Most recently, Rokas was named Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists Finalist (2017), Guggenheim Fellow (2018), Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2019), and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2020). Rokas also serves on the editorial boards of many journals, including eLife, Current Biology, and G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics.