Division of Phylogenetics and Comparative Biology

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Message from the Chair, David Blackburn, chair.dpcb@sicb.org

The Division of Phylogenetic and Comparative Biology had a strong presence at this year’s annual meeting in Tampa. We had a great line-up of talks for the Wake Award competition, a successful first run of the Ask-An-Expert booth, and one of the best attended business meetings for the division in my memory. Thanks especially to our new secretary Haley O’Brien for putting the Ask-An-Expert booth together! At the conference, we also worked to recruit a new Editor to represent DPCB for Integrative and Comparative Biology. We are pleased to welcome our new DPCB Editor, Dr. Hannah Wood, Curator of Arachnida and Myriapoda at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

DPCB Ask-An-Expert Booth in Tampa

In the past few years, we have experienced persistent problems related to confusion between DPCB and DCPB (Division of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry). We may move this year to revise our divisional name to cause less confusion within SICB but still retain a name that reflects the division’s identity. Stay tuned!

This spring, we will vote on a new Program Officer for DPCB. Please vote!

Message from the Secretary, Haley O’Brien, secretary.dpcb@sicb.org

I had a great time organizing and working the very first DPCB-Sponsored Ask-An-Expert Booth. Our experts fielded tons of questions and helped a lot of SICB members troubleshoot code, work through ideas, and learn new skills. The booth was always busy, and we are looking forward to sponsoring the booth again next year! Please join me in thanking all of the methods experts who made the inaugural help booth such a success: Anthony Gilbert, Emma Sherratt, Ryan Felice, Andrew Swafford, Lars Schmitz, Martha Muñoz, Kevin Kocot, Jessica Arbour, Leigha Lynch, Sam Price, and Daniel Moen. Interested in adding more outreach and networking opportunities to your CV? Reach out to any of the DPCB Officers for more information about volunteering at the booth next year.

In the upcoming year, I have two main project goals. First, I will continue to work with the Education Counsel and SICB Webmasters to develop a Phylogenetic Comparative Methods section of the Research and Education Resources Database. I was joined in this effort by Leigha Lynch (candidate for DPCB Program Officer) at the 2019 Annual Meeting. Leigha is working on expanding this effort to include Bioinformatics workflows. Second, the DPCB Researchers Database (http://bit.ly/DPCBresearchers) will be overhauled this year. This page hosts images and short paragraphs highlighting the work of our members, and is an excellent opportunity to share your interests and recruit students. Students are also encouraged to submit short biographies to showcase their research and future goals.

Message from the Program Officer, Todd Oakley, dpo.dpcb@sicb.org

DPCB supports the use of phylogenetic methods to address comparative and integrative questions and will be supporting multiple symposia for the 2020 SICB meeting in Austin, including:

1. Reproduction: the female perspective from an integrative and comparative framework

2. Building Bridges from Genome to Phenome: Molecules, Methods and Models

3. Melding Modeling and Morphology: integrating approaches to understand the evolution of form and function

4. Integrative comparative cognition: can neurobiology and neurogenomics inform comparative analyses of cognitive phenotype?

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Jonathan Chang, jchang641@gmail.com

Stay connected with the DPCB community on:

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SICBDPCB/

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/sicb_dpcb

The student-postdoctoral affairs committee has compiled a number of resources for your use. We ran an online course and in-person brown bag workshop at the SICB meeting, led by Zen Faulkes and creator of betterposters.blogspot.com, to help you design informative and stylish posters.

In Austin 2020, we are planning a workshop focused on career transitions in science, from undergrad to grad school to postdocs and beyond. Please reach out if you have any suggestions!

If you are interested in serving as the DPCB representative to the Student-Postdoctoral Affairs Committee, please contact Dave Blackburn. For more details on the student-postdoc representative’s duties feel free to contact me.

Best Student Presentation Award Winners

Winner of the Wake Award for Best Student Oral Presentation: Kyle David, Auburn University

Kyle David

Kyle David is currently a second-year PhD student in the Halanych lab at Auburn University. His interests center broadly around animal phylogenomics, with a focus on historically understudied and undersampled groups within marine invertebrates. His 2019 Wake Award Presentation, titled “Much Ado About Orthologs,” aimed to provide an empirical framework of ortholog/paralog evolution. By estimating the rate ratio of nonsonymous to synonymous substitutions (dN/dS) in more than 8,000 gene trees across 77 vertebrate taxa, Kyle and colleagues found that lineages descended from speciation events had had significantly more similar dN/dS ratios to one another than lineages descended from duplication events. They also found that several branches near the base of the vertebrate tree exhibited the inverse pattern — more similar dN/dS ratios between paralogous branches than orthologous branches. In addition to continuing his work with ortholog/paralog evolution, Kyle ultimately plans to investigate the role that duplications and other large-scale structural variants play in genome evolution (in a cool marine invertebrate system, of course!).

Winner of the Wake Award for Best Student Poster Presentation: Katerina Zapfe, Clemson University

Katerina Zapfe

Katerina Zapfe is a first year masters student in Clemson University’s Biological Sciences Program, and a NSF Graduate Research Fellow interested in phylogenetics and evolutionary patterns of diversity in marine fishes. Her Wake Award presentation titled, “Collapsing Hotspots, Extinction, and Recovery in Herbivorous Reef Fishes,” examined diversification dynamics of herbivorous reef fishes in the context of historic and predicted climate shifts. This ambitious study examined diversification dynamics of surgeonfish and rabbitfish clades by combining molecular, paleontological, and morphological data. Geometric morphometrics of over 100 extant and extinct species found different tempos of speciation and morphospace occupation within these two clades following West Tethys hotspot collapse. These results support an independent wave of diversification that coincides with the rise of the IAA and demonstrate that low lineage diversity persisted in the wake of environmental change. After finishing her master’s degree in 2020, Katerina aims to continue in graduate school by pursuing a doctoral degree.

Election Information: Candidate Biography (vote here: http://sicb.org/elections/2019.php)

Candidate for Program Officer

Leigha Lynch

Leigha M. Lynch

Current Position: Instructor of Anatomy, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine

Education: Ph.D. (2018) Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences; M.S. (2012) East Tennessee State University; B.S. (2009) Bowling Green State University

Research Interests: My research focuses on quantifying skeletal variation within musteloid carnivores, as this clade includes an array of extant and extinct taxa that exhibit a wide variety of morphological and ecological diversity. I use this model taxon to investigate sources of morphological variation, including: 1) environmental selective pressures; 2) the interaction between environmental and genetic factors; and 3) the time scales across which morphological and genetic evolution can occur. To address these objectives, I combine 3D imaging, geometric morphometrics, NextGen sequencing of mitochondrial genomes, and phylogenetic comparative methods.

SICB Activities: As a member of DPCB, I have participated in the David and Marvalee Wake Award session as both a student (oral presentation honorable mention 2018) and as a judge (2019). I was an expert for the Ask-an-Expert Booth (2019) and I represented divisional interests in the Research and Education Resources Database at the Education Council meeting (2019).

Goals Statements: Through these experiences I have come to recognize the diversity of research programs represented within DPCB and how this division contributes to the SICB as a whole. As the field of phylogenetics and comparative biology has expanded through the advent of new technology and methodologies, so has the research of its members. Yet divisional members expressed concerns at the 2019 DPCB business meeting that it is unclear what fields the division encompasses. As Program Officer, one of my goals would be the organization of sessions that clearly illustrate the research conducted within our division. I would also lead organization of a genetics and bioinformatics symposium to aid in solidifying the role of bioinformatics within DPCB and SICB. My research expertise in genetics, bioinformatics, and comparative methods allows me to organize this symposium in a manner representative of the diversity of interests within our division. My third goal as Program Officer would be to continue highlighting student achievements through the Wake Award sessions and to recruit judges that can provide constructive comments and guidance for students that compete.