LINKING BIG: THE CONTINUING PROMISE OF EVOLUTIONARY SYNTHESIS

Authors

  • Brian Sidlauskas,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
    2. E-mail: brian.sidlauskas@oregonstate.edu
    3. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, 104 Nash Hall, Corvallis, Oregon 97331
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    • These authors led this project; other authors contributed equally and are in alphabetical order.

  • Ganeshkumar Ganapathy,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
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  • Einat Hazkani-Covo,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
    2. Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710
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  • Kristin P. Jenkins,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
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  • Hilmar Lapp,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
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  • Lauren W. McCall,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
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  • Samantha Price,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
    2. Section of Ecology and Evolution, University of California Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616
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  • Ryan Scherle,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
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  • Paula A. Spaeth,

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
    2. Department of Biology and Natural Resources, Northland College, 1411 Ellis Avenue, Ashland, Wisconsin 54806
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  • David M. Kidd

    1. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Suite A200, 2024 West Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27705
    2. NERC Centre for Population Biology, Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7PY, United Kingdom
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    • These authors led this project; other authors contributed equally and are in alphabetical order.


Abstract

Synthetic science promises an unparalleled ability to find new meaning in old data, extant results, or previously unconnected methods and concepts, but pursuing synthesis can be a difficult and risky endeavor. Our experience as biologists, informaticians, and educators at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center has affirmed that synthesis can yield major insights, but also revealed that technological hurdles, prevailing academic culture, and general confusion about the nature of synthesis can hamper its progress. By presenting our view of what synthesis is, why it will continue to drive progress in evolutionary biology, and how to remove barriers to its progress, we provide a map to a future in which all scientists can engage productively in synthetic research.

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