Computational Biology Seminar Series for Undergraduates

Sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences and the Center for Computation & Technology

Open Science, evolutionary informatics and the tree of life


The tree of life - the evolutionary history of all species - provides the framework for organizing and analyzing biological data. Despite thousands of publications that describe evolutionary trees (phylogenies), we lack a tree of life that is complete and accessible. The Open Tree of Life project aims to summarize our current understanding of the tree of life by combining phylogenetic and taxonomic data across millions of species. Open Tree of Life depends upon Open Science - open source software and open data - and also upon a diverse community of scientists with biological and computational skills. There are many programs, such as hackathons, Summer of Code and Software / Data carpentry workshops, that provide hands-on experience with computational biology and open the door to a huge range of existing questions in building, using and visualizing the tree of life.


Karen Cranston is a computational evolutionary biologist in the informatics group at NESCent, the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. She is also the lead PI of the NSF-funded Open Tree of Life, which aims to assembled a complete tree of life from published phylogenetic and taxonomic data. Passionate about Open Science, Karen is part of many community efforts to promote open data and software in evolutionary informatics, such as NESCent hackathons, Google Summer of Code, and Software / Data Carpentry.

Karen Cranston

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

Open Tree of Life

Training Coordinator & Bioinformatics Proj. Mgr.

@kcranstn Twitter