I am broadly interested in how complexity originates during evolution. A chemist and molecular biologist by training, I am specifically interested in the genomic mechanisms that underpin this evolution. My current research uses the lamprey spinal cord as a model to investigate the evolution of the vertebrate nervous system. The emergence of vertebrates was accompanied by a major increase in nervous system complexity. Such complexity is achieved by an increase in cell number, a greater diversity of cell types and sophisticated mechanisms to organise them. Is has long been debated whether the “2R” whole genome duplications contributed to the vertebrate increased complexity. Using single cell mRNA profiling and more traditional molecular biology tools, I aim to build a cellular atlas of the lamprey spinal cord, identify the molecular mechanisms that specify cell types in this tissue and, using published equivalent transcriptomes from other chordates, relate gene duplication events to the emergence of new cell types.