Prof. Ward Wheeler, American Museum of Natural History
invited by Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, CAS
Topic: "Dynamic Homology and Sequence Phylogeny in Systematics: The General Tree Alignment Problem"
Subject: Systematic relationships among and within insects, crustaceans, and chelicerates
Visiting Time: Apr 11-17, 2010
Ward Wheeler's research focuses on the systematic relationships among and within insects, crustaceans, and chelicerates. His laboratory at the AMNH sequences DNA and reconstructs evolutionary trees to determine how these taxa and their anatomy and DNA have evolved over the past 500 million years. Dr. Wheeler has built a series of high performance cluster computers to analyze these data, some of the fastest used in phylogenetic research in the world. He has developed theory and algorithms to interpret evolutionary patterns of DNA and anatomy. This technology is put to use in the American Museum's quest to link extinct lineages with the DNA, morphology, and behavior of species that survive today. Dr. Wheeler joined the AMNH staff in 1989 and since then has authored over 100 scientific publications, several books and software packages, and has been awarded a US patent in DNA sequence analysis.
The problems of homology determination and phylogeny reconstruction are closely linked. Molecular systematics, especially in the age of genomic data, presents a series of problems not encountered by anatomical data. These include dynamic homology, multiple sequence alignment, and the general tree alignment problem. Theoretical, computational, and empirical aspects of homology and phylogeny determination are presented.
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