Basser Seminar Series

Developments in phylogenetic estimation

Speaker: Dr Michael Charleston
School of Information Technologies, The University of Sydney

Time: Wednesday 13 August 2008, 4:00-5:00pm

Location: The University of Sydney, School of IT Building, Lecture Theatre (Room 123), Level 1

Abstract

At the heart of many, if not most, problems in modern biology is the evolutionary framework in which organisms have evolved.

The model for this framework is the evolutionary tree, or phylogeny, and it is this – and only this – that enables researchers to compare different organisms statistically.
Thus it is crucial that phylogenetic trees are estimated accurately, and the most commonly used method uses maximum likelihood to achieve this.

We have developed new approaches to the problem that will enable real speedups, for real data sets that will enable researchers to better answer one of the most persistent questions in biology: what is the origin and evolution of life on Earth?

Speaker's biography

Dr Michael Charleston completed his PhD in New Zealand in 1994 with experts from what is now the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, and since then, he has been immersed in bioinformatics. His first post-doc was with Professor David Hillis at University of Texas at Austin, followed by research positions at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and a long period at Oxford University, after which he escaped academia briefly. Later he came to his senses, and is currently a senior lecturer in the School of IT. In addition to his research he teaches software development, algorithms and bioinformatics.