Jacob Musser joins Yale as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Jacob was a molecular evolutionary biologist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. Originally from northern Michigan (USA), Jacob earned his PhD at Yale University in 2015 studying the molecular evolution of bird feathers. Jacob’s current research focuses on understanding the evolution of animal cell types, particularly the origin of early animal gene regulatory networks, specialized functional machinery such as the synapse, and early modes of intercellular communication. At EMBL he established sponges as a unique comparative model for investigating this history, drawing on diverse tools that include single-cell RNAseq, interaction proteomics, x-ray microscopy, evolutionary modeling, and functional assays. Jacob is passionate about evolution and scientific outreach, and enjoys trekking into the field to study and photograph animal diversity in his spare time.