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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 five years, work in the lab has been funded by three 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, one grant-funded postdoc, and also mentor three NIMBioS postdocs: see here for more information.

This semester (Fall 2014), I am teaching or co-teaching four courses:

  • EEB464 Macroevolution: A course covering basic ideas in speciation, trait evolution, and more, targeted at senior undergraduate students and early graduate students.
  • EEB511 Graduate Core: A mandatory course for incoming graduate students in EEB. This is my sixth year teaching in it (it is co-taught with one or more other faculty); I'll be covering phylogenetics: how to build and use trees, but, more importantly, why to do so.
  • EEB504 HOFF: This is a discussion seminar about our current research in evolutionary biology. It started as the joint lab meeting of the Hulsey, O'Meara, Fitzpatrick, and Fordyce labs but now has students from several other lab groups as well. Students, postdocs, and faculty present draft manuscripts, practice talks, or recent papers relating to their work and get feedback from the group, some of which is actually useful.
  • EEB607 Speciation: A graduate discussion seminar on a rotating topic relating to speciation. Last semester it was led by two lab-associated postdocs (Nick Matzke and Jeremy Beaulieu) under my (unnecessary) supervision and covered phylogenetics; this semester I am leading it and it will cover species delimitation methods.

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, the iEvoBio meeting (to be run with the SSB satellite meeting this year, not the Evolution 2015 meetings), and the SEPEEG regional meeting for evolution, ecology, and genetics. I am also coming up for tenure.

For more about joining my lab, or other opportunities in Knoxville, see here. Location and contact info are here. Browse the menu above for more info. Note that in areas that expand, you can click on the first name ("Lab", "Tutorials", etc.) to go to an overview page.