Tym Sokolskyi

PhD student, University of Wisconsin-Madison



Current Projects

A hypothetical seed-dependent autocatalytic chemical network. Source: Peng et al., 2022.
Scheme of the reductive TCA cycle reactions (top) and homologies between various rTCA enzymes (bottom; see Sokolskyi & DasSarma, 2022 for abbreviations). Source: Sokolskyi & DasSarma, 2022.
Origins of life: autocatalysis and compartmentalization
Origins of life is one of the most interesting topics to me, as it is very complex and requires a highly interdisciplinary approach. In the Baum lab, we are examining emergence of life as autocatalytic chemical consortia. Hence, using chemical ecosystem selection techniques we are searching for a response to selection and autocatalytic properties in complex "prebiotic soups" - mixtures of compounds likely present on early Earth. Additionally, I am interested in the origins of compartmentalization in modern life. I am particularly focused on examining dynamics of vesicle replication, template effects and interactions between vesicles and their chemical environment. [More on this soon...]

During Blue Marble Space Institute of Science (BMSIS) Young Scientist Program in the summer of 2021 I worked with Dr. Shiladitya DasSarma to study the evolution of reductive TCA cycle (rTCA) enzymes using a bioinformatical approach. We found that rTCA cycle evolution was highly complex and involved numerous horizontal gene transfers and we find it unlikely that it represents an ancestral carbon fixation process. I gave a presentation on this study at Astrobiology Science Conference 2022: Sokolskyi & DasSarma, 2022. Also, since 2021 I am a Visiting Scholar at BMSIS with Dr. DasSarma and we are currently preparing a publication on this project.

Past Projects

Poikilolaimus oxycercus worm, grown from compost in Dr. Leuthner's backyard.
C. elegans ecotoxicology and microbiome
From 2018-2021 I was part of the Meyer lab at Duke University. I worked with my mentor Dr. Tess Leuthner on examining the effect of environmental toxicants on mitochondrial DNA damage in C. elegans worms (Leuthner et al., 2022). I also worked on an independent research project studying the effects of Aflatoxin B1 on C. elegans gut microbiome. We found that when grown on a diverse compost-derived microbial substrate C. elegans become more resistant to aflatoxin toxicity (Sokolskyi et al., 2020). We also examined the microbiomes of Poikilolaimus oxycercus worms isolated from the same compost pile. Two publications on these projects are in the works!
Fossil shark teeth from Cretaceous deposits in Kaniv Natural Reserve. Source: Sokolskyi & Guinot, 2021.
Fossils & Vertebrate Paleontology
Fossils were how I became interested in science and since early school I was collecting fossil shark teeth from various places. I participated in multiple field trips from 2013-2021 to Cretaceous deposits in Kaniv Natural Reserve with the help of Dr. Lilia Popova from TSKNU. We published a description of this locality in 2015: Popova et al., 2015.  Then with the help of Dr. Guillaume Guinot from University of Montpellier, France we published a detailed description of Kaniv shark fauna: Sokolskyi & Guinot, 2021.

While studying in North Carolina in 2019 I worked with Dr. Lindsay Zanno in NC Museum of Natural Sciences to study tooth replacement in a dinosaur from Utah: Sokolskyi et al., 2019. I also participated in a 2-week field trip to Arches National Park, UT in the summer of 2019.