The Genetics Society of America has honored Michael Lynch, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Class of 1954 Professor Emeritus in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology at Indiana University Bloomington, with its Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal. The medal is presented in recognition of Lynch's lifetime contributions to the field of genetics.
The GSA notes Lynch's "founding of the field of evolutionary genomics, developing the concept of functional diversification by subfunctionalization in duplicate genes, and contributions to evolutionary quantitative genetics and conservation genetics" as reasons for selecting him to receive the coveted award. The award also recognizes Lynch's contributions to training and mentoring of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers.
Research in the Lynch lab has focused on mechanisms of evolution at the gene, genomic, cellular, and phenotypic levels, with special attention being given to the roles of mutation, random genetic drift, and recombination. He uses the integration of theory development and computational analysis with empirical work on several model systems, including the microcrustacean Daphnia, the ciliate Paramecium, and numerous microbial species. He strives to integrate evolutionary theory with cell biology, using principles from population genetics and biophysics.
Lynch joined the biology department faculty at IU in 2001. He achieved IU's highest academic title of Distinguished Professor in 2005. He received emeritus status in 2018.
Among his many honors, Lynch is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1998) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002). He is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2009).
Besides many highly acclaimed papers, Lynch has written a two-volume treatise on quantitative genetics with Bruce Walsh. The first volume (1998) focuses on the genetics and analysis of quantitative traits and the second (2018) on the evolution of quantitative traits. He is a major force in promoting neutral theories to explain variation in genomic and gene-structural architecture based on the effects of population sizes in different lineages; he presented this point of view comprehensively in his 2007 book The Origins of Genome Architecture. He is currently extending these ideas to the cellular level in The Origins of Cellular Architecture, expected to be published early this year.
He has served as president of the Genetics Society of America, the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the American Genetic Association. Prior to serving on the IU faculty, Lynch held faculty positions at the University of Illinois and University of Oregon. He is now the director of the Biodesign Institute for Mechanisms of Evolution at Arizona State University.