Professor in Computer Sciences
Main Office: ACE 3.428
Alternate Office: ACE 3.304
Alt. Phone: 472-7455
The University of Texas at Austin - ICMB
1 University Station C0500
201 East 24th St.; ACE 3.428
Austin ,TX 78712-1095
Research SummaryPhylogenies (i.e. evolutionary trees) are fundamental to our understanding of evolution, and their inference
is a major part of research in many areas of biology. With the production of increasing amounts of biomolecular
sequence data, we are reaching a moment where the bottleneck in phylogenetics is not the quantity of data, but its analysis. The most frequently used techniques for reconstructing trees from biomolecular sequence data attempt
to solve essentially intractable problems. The result of such a phylogenetic analysis is usually not a single optimal tree, but rather the set of all the “best” trees found during the search. My recent work focuses on four major questions, all related to computational problems in evolutionary
tree reconstruction: (1) The analytical study of convergence
rates of different methods, and the development of provably “fast-converging” methods. (2) Fast techniques for NP-hard optimization problems, such as maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony. (3) The inference of complex evolutionary histories. In this area, I have focused on the inference of evolution from whole genomes, and the detection and inference of reticulate evolution. (4) Data mining on the set of trees obtained during a phylogenetic analysis.
In addition to my work in computational and statistical
aspects of biological phylogenetics, I also work on comparable problems in historical linguistics, which is the inference of evolution for languages.