Ward Wheeler, Principle Investigator

Curriculum Vitae
Dr. Wheeler’s research focuses on systematic theory and its application to the historical relationships among and within a number of metazoan lineages. He has developed theory and algorithms to interpret evolutionary patterns from multiple sources of phylogenetic information including anatomy, behavior, and a diversity of genomic information. Lately his research has expanded to integrate linguistic, ethnographic and genetic information of human populations. Dr. Wheeler´s funding has been equally diversified with grants received from DARPA, NASA and NSF, among others. His laboratory at the AMNH reconstructs evolutionary graphs to study how metazoan taxa and their anatomy and genomes have evolved over the past 500 million years. Dr. Wheeler develops software and hardware tools that are put to use in the American Museum’s quest to link extinct lineages with the genomes, morphology, and behavior of species that survive today. Dr. Wheeler serves as Curator-in-Charge of the AMNH Science Computing Facility and professor of the Richard Guilder Graduate School. Dr. Wheeler joined the Museum in 1989 and has authored over 150 scientific publications and books, including a general textbook of systematics. He has also authored software packages (e.g. POY), and has been awarded a US patent in DNA sequence analysis.

Eric Ford, Postdoctoral Fellow
Eric Ford received his doctorate in Computer Science from CUNY Graduate Center, defending a dissertation which covered the search space of phylogenetic trees. His research has fallen into the intersection of combinatorics, biology and computer science, and mostly relates to questions such as, What can we discover about the search space of phylogenetic trees or networks in general that might make searching the space of trees more computationally tractable? Give some prior information on our data set, what can we discover about that specific search space?
personal website

Nelson Salinas, Postdoctoral Fellow
Nelson Salinas received his B.Sc. in 2004 from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and his Ph.D. in 2015 in Biology from the City University of New York, in collaboration with the New York Botanical Garden. His doctoral research was focused on the taxonomy, phylogenetics, and biogeography of Neotropical blueberries. As a Gerstner Scholar, he is continuing his research on biogeography from a bioinformatics perspective. His current project aims to assess the adequacy of statistical models to describe patterns of geographic distributions of a variety of organisms.

Madison Hansen, PhD student, Richard Gilder Graduate School
Madison Hansen’s research is in the development of new computational methods for studying the evolutionary genomics of nonmodel organisms. Current research interests include genome assembly and annotation and orthology inference, with emphasis on the reconstruction of horizontal gene transfers. Madison received her BS in Mathematical and Computational Biology from Harvey Mudd College, Claremont CA, in May 2015.

Abrial Meyer, Helen Gurley Brown Post Baccalaureate Fellow
At AMNH Abby works with Dr. Ward Wheeler on software to improve phylogenetic analysis of whole genome data. With increased ease of sequencing whole genomes comes increased need for robust tools for analysis of sequences in their entirety. Abby is working on aligning mitochondrial genome datasets without prior annotation. The eventual goal is to incorporate a multiple sequence aligner into Dr. Wheelers phylogenetic tree building software.

Alex Washburn, Developer

Louise Crowley, Research Scientist, Associate Director BridgeUp:STEM

Nuala F. Caomhanach, PhD Student, New York University
Nuala F. Caomhanach is a PhD student in the Department of History at New York University. Her research focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth century construction of systematic theory, population genetics and bioinformatics. Nuala received a Bachelor of Science in Evolutionary Botany from the University College Dublin and an Master of Science in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her master’s thesis focused on computational population genetics using the polyploid Rorippa aquatica as a model organism. She is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Science, Technology and Culture at the Tandon School of Engineering, New York University.

Mohammad Faiz, Business Manager, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics
I am tasked with taking care of business side of the Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics. This involves liaising with several departments at AMNH as well as dealing with outside Affiliates and vendors. One of my major responsibilities is to make sure ICG labs and programs are running within budgets and have the resources available to function efficiently. The rest of my time is spent helping ICG staff and researcher expedite their research projects – be it lab supplies, looking for new members for the group, or buying high-end computing resources. Over the years, I have seen the institute go from a small program to a world-class research center. Our new projects are dealing with Next Generation Sequencing and their applications into real world issues of species conservation, discovery, and identification.