For the latest information, please visit our new home at

We've moved! The laboratory moved to the Mississippi State University department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology during the summer of 2009. Contact information for Dr. Ray has changed - and 662-325-7740.

In May 2009, Michelle Thompson successfully defended her Masters Thesis, "Identification of Chicken Repeat 1 (CR1) elements in forensically important blowfly species and characterization of one such element within Sarcophaga bullata".

In July 2009, the Ray lab was awarded National Science Foundation funding to study crocodilian genomics via a proposal titled Genome Evolution and Mobile Element Dynamics in Crocodylia.  Using these funds, we will investigate aspects of genome structure, function and diversity in representatives from all three crocodilian families (gharials, alligators and caimans, and true crocodiles).  Exciting work is ahead!

Welcome and thank you for visiting our lab website. Research in the laboratory revolves around the central theme of modern biology - evolution. Specifically, work in our lab involves the use of computational and experimental tools to explore and manipulate genomic DNA in various taxa ranging from flies to bats. We attempt to address questions related to how evolution works at the molecular level, how organisms are related to one another, how we can use information from the genome to investigate population dynamics, and how we can use information from DNA for forensic identification. Most of our projects involve the characterization and utilization of genetic markers known as mobile elements, which are DNA sequences that are able to make new copies of themselves and insert those copies elsewhere in the genome. Different types of mobile elements include the retrotranpsosons (SINEs, LINEs, etc.) and DNA transposons (P-elements, MITEs, etc.). Current projects include:

1. Detecting recently active mobile element families in various taxa including flies, crocodilians, bats and lizards.

2. Applying SINE analysis to practical questions in the fields of forensic identification, crocodilian genomics, population biology, phylogenetics, and conservation genetics.

3. Investigating the impact of mobile elements on genome evolution and diversification in a variety of taxa.