Pedro Márquez-Zacarías - September 2021

Pedro is a PhD candidate at the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences. He works with Prof. William Ratcliff, developing theory to understand how multicellular organisms became more complex and how microbial populations are structured in space. He is also interested in the foundations of theoretical biology and the philosophy of biology. Before coming to Georgia Tech, Pedro studied Biomedical Sciences at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he did his research thesis with Prof. Valeria Souza.

Evolutionary transitions are processes in which new levels of organization emerge and evolve. The origins of life, the evolution of eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic ancestors, the evolution of multicellularity from single-celled organisms, and the evolution of eusociality are all examples of evolutionary transitions. In Prof. Ratcliff’s group, they use experiments and theory to understand how multicellularity emerged and evolved, which can lead us to a better understanding of the other evolutionary transitions. What is exciting to Pedro about studying the evolution of multicellularity is that many processes are at play: physical constraints, the topology of social interactionsecological and evolutionary constraints, and the self-organization of cellular processes. At the core, all of these approaches aim to find the ‘simplicity’ in the ‘complexity’ of biology.  

Besides scientific research, Pedro has been interested in communicating ‘complex’ ideas in biology to a wider audience. To this end, he founded Biomusings in collaboration with PhD candidate Jennifer Rattray (member of Prof. Brown’s lab), where they conduct interviews and edit written contributions with scientists of all areas of biology. Pedro is also interested in social justice, particularly when it comes to education, a fundamental human right. That’s why he has volunteered for Books not Bombs in 2017, helping refugee high school students with their homework; and has served as Biology professor for Freedom University since 2018.  

Pedro is native of Paracho, México, an indigenous region in Michoacán known for crafting high-quality guitars and ‘Pirekuas’, songs in the Purépecha language. Thus, he enjoys playing guitar and music in general (you can find some of his music here). Other things he enjoys is playing chess, reading, soccer, and board games.