Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Phylografter (beta)

Rick Ree just made publicly accessible his new immensely useful program for creating conglomerated trees, Phylografter (beta version). While tree grafting is an old business (and it may soon be superseded by GenBank trawling and mega-phylogeny reconstruction), our DNA taxon sampling is not stellar for most groups, and anyone who has made glomograms by hand will immediately recognize its utility

Phylografter is a web2py-based application that allows users to upload trees or use existing ones in order to join them for the purpose of creating a single large phylogeny. The current demo version can be downloaded or run on a web server, and handles up to 7,000 tips. There are thousands of trees already uploaded into the tree database, which can be used to create new glomograms. It is presently a bit plant-heavy--not a big surprise, given the context of its creation. [Read more at EOL.]

Darwin Party 2009

Darwin's 200th is just around the corner. We're partying in Rochester this Friday night. All are welcome!

"Other Darwins"

Darwin himself wasn't employed by any natural history museums, but his life's work of observation, collection, description, and synthesis, continues to this day. In that spirit, Science Careers also did a feature in honor of Darwin's bicentennial on Friday, interviewing several curators at natural history museums - Kristofer Helgen from the Smithsonian, Pete Makovicky from the Field, Robert Cook of the Harvard Herbarium, Matthew Lamanna from Carnegie, and yours truly, from AMNH. Obviously, several other biologists working at universities do similar work, but the piece tries to highlight some of the differences between being behind the walls of a museum versus the traditional "ivory tower."

The Bicentennial: Part 1

As Darwin's 200th birthday nears, multiple media sources have unveiled special sections devoted to the originator of what is probably the greatest idea in all of science. Today's Science Section of The New York Times is simply outstanding. It showcases a PDF version of the Origin, as well as some commentary, and several articles that feature many familiar faces. The National Geographic has several related pieces, including a series of recent videos and (photo)essays, as well as an older collection by David Quammen.

If you have your favorite sources, please let us know, and do share how you plan to celebrate.