Kaleda Krebs Denton

Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow

Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow Starting at SFI July 2024

Starting at SFI July 2024

Kaleda (pronounced kay-lee-da) Denton is an evolutionary biologist from Vancouver, Canada. She is interested in the role of non-genetic processes in evolution. For example, when observing an organism that is well suited to its current environment, it may be intuitive to suggest that this compatibility is due to adaptation by natural selection. However, processes such as epigenetic regulation, development, and cultural evolution may also play important roles. She aims to integrate ultimate "why" questions and proximate "how" questions to deepen her understanding of evolutionary trajectories.

Kaleda's past research focused on developing models of cultural evolution and gene-culture co-evolution. She has addressed questions such as: How could cooperative behaviors spread throughout populations even if they decreased individuals' fitness? Why is the seemingly advantageous process of cultural accumulation seen in very few species? Her Ph.D., as well as postdoctoral research, was conducted under the supervision of Marcus W. Feldman in the Biology Department of Stanford University. Her Ph.D. research was supported by the Stanford Graduate Fellowship and the Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics Predoctoral Fellowship. Prior to conducting theoretical research, Kaleda conducted empirical research on Argentine ants during her B.S. program at UCLA under the guidance of Peter Nonacs. She continues to collaborate with Peter on questions about life's major events, such as the emergence of cells, multicellular organisms, and human societies.

At SFI, Kaleda is excited to further explore the interplay between genetic and non-genetic processes in the emergence of major evolutionary events. In particular, she is interested in the roles of enforcement and punishment in upholding cooperative systems at cellular, organismal, and societal levels.