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Gunter Wagner, PhD

Research Professor and Alison Richard Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Günter P. Wagner is an evolutionary geneticist with training in biochemcial engineering, zoology and mathematics from the University of Vienna, Austria. He spent six postdoctoral years at the Max Planck Institutes for Biophysical Chemistry (Goettingen, Germany) and for Developmental Biology (Tübingen, Germany). His academic career started at the University of Vienna and in 1991 he received a call to assume a full professorship at the Biology Department at Yale. From 1996 to 2001 he was Chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale, and in 2010 his lab moved to the Systems Biology Institute at Yale's West Campus.

Dr. Wagner's research interest is the evolution of gene regulation as it pertains to the origin of evolutionary novelties. In particular the lab is focusing on the evolution of the endometrial stromal cells in the context of the evolutionary origin of pregnancy. Another focus of my lab is the developmental basis of character identity, as for instance in the case of digit identity of birds.

In 1992 Dr. Wagner received the MacArthur Fellowship for my research on the developmental basis of homology and in 1997 he was elected both to become corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2010 Dr, Wagner was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Education & Training

  • Postdoc
    Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology (1985)
  • Postdoc
    University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany (1982)
  • Postdoc
    Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (1981)
  • PhD
    University of Vienna, Zoology (1979)


  • Evolutionary Adaptive Systems
    Italy 2008
    Professor Wagner researches complex adaptive systems using artificial life models.
  • Evoluntionary Mechanisms
    Germany 2003
    Professor Wagner conducts research into the mathematical theory of evolutionary mechanisms.

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Humboldt Research PrizeAlexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany2007
Corresponding MemberAustrian Academy of Sciences1997
Elected FellowAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science1997
MacArthur FellowshipJD and KT MacArthur Foundation1992