During development, a fertilized egg divides many, many times to create the cells that will form the adult animal. To create different cell types, e.g. neurons and muscle cells, each cell expresses different combinations of genes at particular levels during different phases of development, and errors in this program can cause defects in development. The grant awarded to the Wunderlich lab, “Mechanisms of shadow enhancer robustness during development,” funds work that aims to study a particular mechanism that allows the developmental program to proceed reliably in the face of perturbations. This work is based on the observation that developmental gene expression in many animals, including both fruit flies and humans, is often controlled by multiple, seemingly redundant enhancers, which are the pieces of DNA that encode the developmental “program.” The lab is testing two hypotheses that explain why these redundant “shadow” enhancers allow the animal to develop normally, even under stress, using both quantitative microscopy and computational models.