I am an assistant professor at U of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. In my lab, we develop and apply phylogenetic tools to address evolutionary questions. They are usually generated by a direct research need: how can we tell whether this group is evolving at a different rate? How can we choose between phylogeographic models without limiting ourselves to a pre-selected small set? Is there hidden variation in states that lets some herbaceous plants retain the ability to make wood while others have lost this ability? By developing techniques to address these questions, we both solve the original question and enable other biologists to use these new techniques to answer more questions. Broadly, the areas covered include trait evolution, species delimitation, phylogeography, dating trees, and more work in progress. See more info here. In the last six years, work in the lab has been funded by four NSF grants to me as PI or Co-PI as well as awards from iPlant, Encyclopedia of Life, and Google Summer of Code to me or people doing work in the lab (see more info here). Grad students in the lab have been supported by teaching assistantships as well as a PEER fellowship. The UT Knoxville-based National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) remains critically important for my work, whether by funding independent postdocs (I have mentored seven NIMBioS postdocs, in addition to three additional postdocs in my lab with other funds), sponsoring workshops, or organizing working groups.
Much of the work in the lab involves developing, implementing, and testing new phylogenetic methods. These are implemented in C++, perl, and, most commonly, R. All our software is open source, and we strive to also release all the data, as well (with some exceptions due to restrictions by coauthors). We currently have 3.5 grad students in the lab, two grant-funded postdocs, and also mentor two NIMBioS postdocs: see here for more information.
This summer (2015), I am participating in (at least) three tutorials:
- Systematic Biology / iEvoBio standalone meeting: I am giving a tutorial on comparative methods in R.
- Evolution 2015: I am presenting a tutorial in phylogeography. I am also co-organizing an SSB symposium on "Breaking Barriers: Empirical, Theoretical, and Gender Issues in Phylogenetics".
- NIMBioS Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics tutorial: This is a tutorial organized by Steve Arnold and Joe Felsenstein.
I am also continuing research on three NSF-funded projects (plus other research topics, of course), and helping to plan the Society of Systematic Biologists satellite meeting and the iEvoBio meeting (to be run with the SSB satellite meeting this year, not the Evolution 2015 meetings). I am came up for tenure in Fall 2014. You can watch my tenure talk and look at my tenure packet here; a decision will arrive in Summer 2015.