There were presentations on Sunday about at least two software packages that allow students to investigate evolutionary processes in the classroom.
Rob Pennock gave a talk about Avida-ED, a version of the Avida artificial life platform that adds a graphical user interface with a number of features useful for interactive use. Typically, running Avida is done in batch mode from a command-line interface. Avida-ED allows the user to specify configuration options from the interface and presents views of populations or individual Avidians as requested. As Avida-ED runs, one also can get graphical indications of population changes in fitness, gestation time, and other measures.
Brian White talked about Aipotu, a simulator that uses genetics and proteomics with evolutionary processes recently added on. (The application is derived from MGX, for Molecular Genetics Explorer.) There are some similarities in the interface for Aipotu and Avida-ED, as White’s group has consulted with the Avida-ED team about ways to display evolution in progress. Aipotu uses an example of genetics of “flower” color as the basis for showing how evolution can change genotype distributions by comparing phenotypes.