The Avida-ED Project

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Technology for Teaching Evolution and
the Nature of Science using Digital Organisms

Robert T. Pennock



Avida-ED is my digital evolution educational software platform, designed for use in undergraduate biology courses. Originally developed from 2004 - 2009 under an NSF CCLI grant (with my co-PIs Charles Ofria, Richard Lenski, and Diane Ebert-May), Avida-ED was officially introduced and publically released at the Society for the Study of Evolution meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand on June 19, 2007, and is used in universities around the country. Avida-ED 2.0, new model exercises and a national assessment study was completed between 2010 and 2014 with support from the NSF-funded BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Avida-ED 3.0, which let it run in any browswer, was completed under under two new grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation. Work on Avida-ED 4.0, which will incorporate ecological controls, is underway and we expect to release a beta version in summer 2019. We continue to develop model curriculum and instructor support materials, testing these in a variety of classroom settings, and organize annual Avida-ED "train the trainer" national workshops for faculty.


Avida-ED was discussed in the 10 Feb. 2006 issue of Science.

For more information and to access Avida-ED please go to the general public site.
Avida-ED Home Page



Fig. 1: A view in the virtual Petri dish. The population viewer allows the user to monitor the population's fitness, genotype distribution, metabolic rate, and other characteristics.

Fig. 2: The Organism Viewer shows an animation of the execution of a digital organism's genome.

Fig. 3: The Analysis Viewer graphs data from evolved populations.


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Created 5/27/04. Last updated 3/13/19.
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