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Eric Hayden, Ph.D.

Eric Hayden, Headshot

Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Biological Sciences
Year arrived at BSU
: 2013

Mailing Address:
Department of Biology
Boise State University
Boise, ID 83725-1515
Phone: 6-2366
Office Location: Science, room 111
Lab Location: MCMR, room 222A
E-Mail Address:

Hayden Lab logo

Click the image above to check out Hayden lab


  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University, 2012-2013
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Zurich, Switzerland, 2009-2011
  • Ph.D. Chemistry, Portland State University, 2008
  • B.S. Chemistry, Linfield College, 2002


  • BMOL 601 Biomolecules I
  • BMOL/BIOL 613 Molecular Genetics
  • BMOL 570 Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering


Journal of Molecular Evolution Cover

My research involves the design and laboratory evolution of RNA in order to discover molecules with potential biomedical and biotechnical applications. My research also contributes to our understanding of how life evolves, even from its earliest chemical beginnings. The application of next generation sequencing technologies allows new insights into the process of evolution as it occurs in nature and the laboratory, and allows us to put theory to the experimental test. Recently, I have started a collaboration with Dr. Matt Ferguson (Physics, Boise State) to conduct single-molecule fluorescence microscopy of RNA processing events inside living Eukaryotic cells. We are devising ways to produce never-before-seen footage of the inner mechanisms of Eukaryotic gene expression. We will use this knowledge to improve our ability to interface and control gene expression.



The Hayden lab has open positions for postdocs and PhD students. Please email Dr. Hayden if you are interested. PhD students must be accepted into the interdisciplinary Biomolecular Science PhD Program. An NSF funded postdoctoral position is currently available to study the Evolution of Biomolecular Innovations.

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography:


  • Hayden, E. J. (2016) Empirical analysis of RNA robustness and evolution using high-throughput sequencing of ribozyme reactions. Methods 106, 97–104.
  • Love, J. E., Hayden, E. J., and Rohn, T. T. (2015) Alternative Splicing in Alzheimer’s Disease. J Parkinsons Dis Alzheimers Dis 2.
  • Hayden, E. J., Bendixsen, D. P., and Wagner, A. (2015) Intramolecular phenotypic capacitance in a modular RNA molecule. PNAS 112, 12444–12449.
  • Hayden EJ, Bratulic S, Koenig I, Ferrada E, Wagner A (2014). The effects of stabilizing and directional selection on phenotypic and genotypic variation in a population of RNA enzymes. J Mol Evol 78:101–108. [cover above]
  • Hayden EJ, Weikert C, Wagner A (2012). Directional Selection Causes Decanalization in a Group I Ribozyme. PLoS ONE 7 e45351.
  • Hayden EJ, Wagner A (2012). Environmental change exposes beneficial epistatic interactions in a catalytic RNA. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279(1742):3418-25.
  • Vaidya N, Manapat M, Chen I, Xulvi-Brunet R, Hayden EJ, Lehman N (2012). Spontaneous network formation among cooperative RNA replicators. Nature doi:10.1038/nature11549.
  • Hayden EJ, Ferrada E, Wagner A (2011). Cryptic genetic variation promotes rapid evolutionary adaptation in an RNA enzyme. Nature 474: 92-95.
  • Hayden EJ, von Kiedrowski G, Lehman N (2008). Systems Chemistry on ribozyme self-construction: Evidence for autocatalysis in a recombination network. Angewandte Chemie International Edition English 47(44): 8424-8428.
  • Draper WE, Hayden EJ, Lehman N (2008). Mechanisms of covalent self-assembly of the Azoarcus ribozyme from four fragment oligonucleotides. Nucleic Acids Research 36:520-531.
  • Zenisek SM, Hayden EJ, Lehman N (2007). Genetic exchange leading to self-assembling RNA species upon encapsulation in artificial protocells. Artificial Life 13: 279-289.
  • Hayden EJ, Lehman N (2006). Self-assembly of a group I intron from inactive oligonucleotide fragments. Chemistry & Biology 13: 909-918.
  • Hayden EJ, Riley CA, Burton AS, Lehman N (2005). RNA-directed construction of structurally complex and active ligase ribozymes through recombination. RNA 11: 1678-1687.

Invited commentary

  • Lehman N, Hayden EJ (2011). Template-directed RNA Polymerization: The Taming of the Milieu. ChemBioChem doi:10.1002/cbic.201100611