Brandon Ogbunu

Brandon Ogbunu

Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University

Visiting Assistant Professor 2022-2023

Professor Matthew Shoulders, MIT Department of Chemistry

Brandon Ogbunu


C. Brandon Ogbunu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His research takes place at the intersection of evolutionary biology, genetics, and epidemiology. He uses experimental evolution, mathematical modeling, and computational biology to better understand the underlying causes and consequences of disease, across scales: from the biophysics of proteins involved in drug resistance to the social determinants driving epidemics at the population level. In doing so, he aims to develop theory that enriches our understanding of the evolutionary and ecological underpinnings of disease, while contributing to practical solutions for clinical medicine and public health. He completed his PhD at Yale University in 2010 and postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University and the Broad Institute. He has been the recipient of the UNCF-Merck, the Broad Institute Diversity Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. He previously served two years on the faculty at Brown University and is a former visiting research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

In addition, Ogbunu runs a parallel research program at the intersection of science, society, and culture,  where he writes, gives public lectures, and creates media of various kinds. In this capacity, he is currently an Ideas contributor at Wired Magazine. In addition, he has written for a range of publications including Scientific American, Undark, and the Boston Review. He has also performed for Story Collider and was recently featured in a June 2020 episode of WNYC’s Radiolab. He was also featured in the Emmy Award-winning PBS web series Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings

He received his PhD in 2010 from Yale University (Microbiology) and did postdoctoral work at Harvard University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He has held visiting scientist positions at MIT, the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (at the University of California, Santa Barbara), and the American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY).  Prior to Yale, Brandon was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University and affiliated with the Center for Computational Molecular Biology. Ogbunu is the past recipient of a United States William J. Fulbright fellowship, a UNCF-Merck Fellowship, the George Washington Henderson Fellowship (University of Vermont)  the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, as well as research funding from the National Science Foundation. 

Recent Publications

Ayala, Andrea J., and C. Brandon Ogbunugafor. "When Vibrios Take Flight: A Meta-analysis of Pathogenic Vibrios Species in Wild and Domestic Birds." bioRxiv (2022).

Balasubramanian, D., López-Pérez, M., Grant, T. A., Ogbunugafor, C. B., & Almagro-Moreno, S. "Molecular mechanisms and drivers of pathogen emergence." Trends in Microbiology (2022).

Draghi, Jeremy A., and C. Brandon Ogbunugafor. "Exploring the expanse between theoretical questions and experimental approaches in the modern study of evolvability." Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution (2022).

Ogbunugafor, C. Brandon and Samuel V. Scarpino. "Higher-Order Interactions in Biology: The Curious Case of Epistasis." Higher-Order Systems. Springer, Cham, 2022. 417-433.

Yoon, J., Nekongo, E.E., Patrick, J.E., Hui, T., Phillips, A.M., Ponomarenko, A.I., Hendel, S.J., Sebastian, R.M., Zhang, Y.M., Butty, V.L. and Ogbunugafor, C.B. "The endoplasmic reticulum proteostasis network profoundly shapes the protein sequence space accessible to HIV envelope." PLoS Biology 20.2 (2022): e3001569.

Williams, B.J., Ogbunugafor, C. B., Althouse, B. M., & Hébert-Dufresne, L. "Immunity-induced criticality of the genotype network of influenza A (H3N2) hemagglutinin." arXiv preprint arXiv:2109.12407 (2021).


"Brandon Ogbunu is a radical collaborator," MIT News, 9 January 2023.

"Why We Need Black Twitter," The Atlantic, 12 November 2022.

"C. Brandon Ogbunu interviews Lupe Fiasco about the fusion between academia and hip-hop," Andscape, 1 November 2022.

Photo Gallery: MIT MLK Scholar Welcome Luncheon, Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO), 30 October 2022.

"Living, loving, and landscapes: How the science of evolution helps me navigate it all." MIT Institute Community and Equity Office, 11 October 2022.

Panel: "Unfolding Models." With Stefan Helmreich, Rosa Menkman, Priyamvada Natarajan, C. Brandon Ogbunu. "Unfolding Intelligence: The Art and Science of Contemporary Computation" Symposium, MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, 2 April 2021.

"E X everything interactions: from the environmental drivers of protein evolution, to indirect transmission in epidemics, and beyond." Parsons Laboratory Environmental Science Seminar Series, 13 November 2020.