Staff Profiles

Cheryl Y. Hayashi

Curator, Professor and Leon Hess Director of Comparative Biology Research
Director, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics
Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School

Curriculum Vitae (short version)
  • Education

      • Yale University, Ph.D., 1996
      • Yale University, M.Phil., 1993
      • Yale University, M.S., 1990
      • Yale University, B.S., 1988
  • Research Interests

    Research Interests

      I am fascinated by molecules of critical adaptive significance, particularly those that underlie the spectacular proliferation of spider silks. Stringent selective forces have molded spider silks into fibers that outperform nearly all other biological and manmade materials. The phylogenetic diversity of spiders is immense (>40,000 described species), and silks are integral to their fitness. Much of my lab’s research has focused on characterizing members of the spidroin gene family and how the different gene family members encode specialized silks for shelter, prey capture, defense, escape from predators, and reproduction (sperm transfer and egg protection). We seek to understand the mechanistic basis of this molecular diversity and how it relates to different ecological requirements and biomechanical challenges. We take an integrative approach that combines systematics, whole-gene cloning, transcriptomics, genomics, development, biochemistry, and biomechanics to deeply understand the evolution of spider silk genes, proteins, and fibers. Many of these approaches can be applied to the study of other types of molecules in other non-model organisms. Additionally, I collaborate extensively with engineers and biomechanics to apply engineering principles to better understand the function/material properties of silks, and also to advance the engineering of novel biomaterials based on spider silk sequences. 

  • Publications