C. Brandon Ogbunu

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C. Brandon Ogbunu
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C. Brandon Ogbunugafor
CitizenshipUnites States Of America
Alma materHoward University, BS, 2002
Yale University, PhD, 2010
AwardsNIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program[1], Fulbright Scholarship[1]
Scientific career
InstitutionsYale University, 2020 – Present
Brown University, 2016 – 2020
Doctoral advisorPaul E. Turner
InfluencesDaniel L. Hartl, Susan Gottesman[1]

C. Brandon Ogbunu is an American geneticist and Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University[1][2], a visiting professor at Brown University[3], a scientific communicator and a regular contributor to WIRED[4].


Professor Ogbunu received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry 2002 from Howard University. He studied in Kenya on a Fulbright scholarship[5]. He then attended Yale University, where he received his Master of Science degree in 2007 and his Doctorate degree in 2010, both in microbiology working in the laboratory of Paul E. Turner.[6]


Research and Impact

Professor Ogbunu's research combines systems computational and experimental techniques to study infectious diseases.[7] He is currently interested in how social structures interact with the spread of diseases[7], and how the basic reproduction number of a disease can vary between settings[8], with reference to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.[7] His scientific work has been published in 12 journals[9] including PLOS Computational Biology[10][11] and Nature Ecology & Evolution[12].

During his research into oviposition site selection in the speciating, malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae#Anopheles gambiae in the Anopheles gambiae in the strict sense, Ogbunu discovered that that mosquitoes of a particular strain were encouraged to lay their eggs in water in which larvae of the same strain were developing, and thus discovered the existence of some type of signaling molecule mediating the interaction.[13] Other scientists have described this work as potentially providing "a model for how speciation could arise within related taxa of mosquitoes".[13] Ogbunu has also done some of the first work towards developing the ability to select malaria treatments using a process informed by the structure of the adaptive landscape of the malaria parasite, in order to hinder the parasite's ability to evolve resistance to the selected treatment.[14] Outside of malaria, Ogbunu's experimental evolution research on viruses produced evidence of evolutionary trade-offs between virulence and persistence in the environment outside a host.[15] These trade-offs had not been modeled by previous theoretical frameworks, which assumed that virulence and persistence were correlated for theoretical reasons.[15]

Science Communication

Ogbunu is a popular science writer, writing about the intersection of science, justice, and culture. He is a contributing columnist for WIRED magazine.[4] He also serves on the advisory board of The Story Collider, a nonprofit organization that bring stories about science to the public.[16] He was interviewed by the The New York Times in an article debunking the theory that the COVID-19 virus was created by humans.[17] He is especially involved in audio science communication, having sat for a number of radio and podcast interviews and long-form stories.[7][18][19] He was appeared in the PBS series Finding Your Roots[20], where he was an instructor at a genetics and genealogy camp for young people.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Undergraduate research at NCI sparks curiosity and new connections". Center for Cancer Research. 2020-09-10. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  2. "C. Brandon Ogbunu | Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology". eeb.yale.edu. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  3. "Ogbunu, C. Brandon". vivo.brown.edu. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "C. Brandon Ogbunu | WIRED". www.wired.com. Condé Nast. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  5. "Fulbright Student Program". us.fulbrightonline.org. Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  6. "New Faculty Profile: C. Brandon Ogbunu". www.evolutionsociety.org. Society for the Study of Evolution. Retrieved 2020-08-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Take Note: Brandon Ogbunu on Coronavirus Transmission and Societal Impact". WPSU. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  8. Ogbunu, C. Brandon; Harp, Randall; Scarpino, Samuel V. "Why it's so difficult for scientists to predict the next outbreak of a dangerous disease". World Economic Forum. World Economic Forum. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  9. "C. Brandon Ogbunu". scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  10. Ogbunugafor, C. Brandon; Wylie, C. Scott; Diakite, Ibrahim; Weinreich, Daniel M.; Hartl, Daniel L. (2016). "Adaptive Landscape by Environment Interactions Dictate Evolutionary Dynamics in Models of Drug Resistance". PLoS computational biology. 12 (1): e1004710. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004710. ISSN 1553-7358. PMC 4726534. PMID 26808374.
  11. Ogbunugafor, C. Brandon; Hartl, Daniel L. (2016). "A New Take on John Maynard Smith's Concept of Protein Space for Understanding Molecular Evolution". PLoS computational biology. 12 (10): e1005046. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005046. ISSN 1553-7358. PMC 5063322. PMID 27736867.
  12. Ogbunugafor, C. Brandon; Eppstein, Margaret J. (2016). "Competition along trajectories governs adaptation rates towards antimicrobial resistance". Nature Ecology & Evolution. 1 (1): 1–8. doi:10.1038/s41559-016-0007. ISSN 2397-334X.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Himeidan, Yousif E.; Temu, Emmanuel A.; El Rayah, El Amin; Munga, Stephen; Kweka, Eliningaya J. (2013-10-19). "Chemical Cues for Malaria Vectors Oviposition Site Selection:Challenges and Opportunities". Journal of Insects. 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/68518 (inactive 2020-12-02).{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of December 2020 (link)
  14. Obolski, Uri; Ram, Yoav; Hadany, Lilach (13 December 2017). "Key issues review: evolution on rugged adaptive landscapes". Reports on Progress in Physics. 81 (1): 012602. doi:10.1088/1361-6633/aa94d4. PMID 29051394.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Cressler, Clayton E.; McLEOD, David V.; Rozins, Carly; Hoogen, Josée Van Den; Day, Troy (2016). "The adaptive evolution of virulence: a review of theoretical predictions and empirical tests". Parasitology. 143 (7): 915–930. doi:10.1017/S003118201500092X.
  16. "C. Brandon Ogbunu". The Story Collider. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  17. Wu, Katherine J. (2020-10-13). "Another 'Unfounded' Study on Origins of Virus Spreads Online". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  18. "The Liberation of RNA". Radiolab (Podcast). WNYC Studios. 2020-06-13. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  19. "Justice: Stories about righteous determination". The Story Collider (Podcast). The Story Collider. 2019-12-03. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  20. Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings (TV Series 2017–2018) - IMDb, retrieved 2020-12-04

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