William Shoemaker

Postdoctoral Fellows
Postdoctoral Fellow
A picture of me on a fishing boat off the Florida coast.
+39 040 2240 142
I study the evolution and ecology of microbial communities. Biologist by training, working on learning statistical physics.

I study the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of microbial communities. I have a Ph.D in Biology from Indiana University Bloomington where I was a member of the Lennon Lab and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Garud Lab at UCLA. I am currently a fellow in the Quantitative Ecology and Evolution Group at The Abdus Salam Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) where I am advised by Dr. Jacopo Grilli. While I was trained as a biologist, during my Ph.D. I became inspired by the ongoing physics-driven transformation of microbial ecology and evolution and made the deliberate choice to use the postdoc stage to build a statistical physicist’s intuition and understanding of microbial communities. By applying principles from statistical physics, I believe that biologists can readily adopt a wholly quantitative and predictive framework that is capable of welding dynamic models of measurable quantities to high-throughput experiments.

My research can be coarse-grained into the following efforts:

      - Identifying macroecological patterns in microbial communities.

      - Characterizing microbial ecology and evolution in low-energy environments.

      - Examining the macroecological dynamics of strain-level structure in the human gut microbiome.

These interests are consolidated by a shared rule: by coupling experimental and observational data with intuitive mathematical models containing few, if any, free parameters, we can gain greater insight into biological systems. At present, I primarily use computational and mathematical tools to perform my research, though I have considerable wet lab experience and have performed field research in temperate and tropical environments.

In my free time, I enjoy cooking, lifting, reading, film, and car repair.