Evolution is the process by which the inherited traits of organisms change through successive generations. This encompasses changes in gene frequencies from one generation to the next in a population, the emergence of novel traits in organisms, and the descent of different species from a common ancestor. Studies of evolution provide insight to the history of life, patterns and the extent of biodiversity in different habitats, the mechanisms that underpin the emergence of disease, and much more. The extensive data sets collected by biologists in contemporary studies of natural and experimentally evolved populations enable mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists to quantify the probabilities of various evolutionary events and develop models that can subsequently be empirically evaluated and refined by biologists. Many of these studies are facilitated by recent advances in technologies for DNA sequencing and transcriptome analysis as well as the increased speed and capacity for data analysis. This allows investigators to explore evolutionary biology in ways that were never before possible.

The Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST) provides a rich intellectual environment in which cross disciplinary, university wide research and education flourishes. We meet at least weekly for scholarly discussions and conversation, together with students and staff. Faculty members in IBEST include physicists, chemists, molecular biologists, organismal biologists, ecologists, behavioral biologists, mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists. IBEST also administers the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology graduate program, which requires students to engage in research and studies at the intersection of computer science, biology, mathematics, and statistics. Many IBEST faculty members also engage undergraduate students in research.

For over two decades IBEST has been a 'grass roots' organization of faculty and their research programs at the University of Idaho that share an interest in evolutionary biology and computational biology. This organization has grown over time and now includes a spectrum of activities. Research done under the umbrella of Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies receives funding from various sources including NIH, NSF, other federal agencies and industry.

IBEST Vision

As a global network of interdisciplinary science teams, IBEST employs the latest technological advances and innovative computational practices engaging in the joint discovery of knowledge and trans-disciplinary methodologies focused on understanding at different levels of biological complexity the molecular consequences of evolutionary, environmental change, and the real-time adaptation of organisms.

IBEST Mission

The mission of IBEST is to:

  • Facilitate interdisciplinary research on evolutionary processes at different levels of biological complexity ranging from studies on the molecular processes of evolutionary change to the adaptation of organisms on a landscape level.
  • Establish and nurture strategic collaborations or partnerships with research groups across the United States and abroad.
  • Maintain and enhance the capabilities of core facilities for DNA sequence analysis, bioinformatics, and optical imaging and facilitate their use by investigators across campus.
  • Promote graduate and undergraduate education in bioinformatics and computational biology at the University of Idaho.



This website is supported in part by funds from the National Institute Of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P30 GM103324.