1. Diversity and inclusion in STEAMM (Part 1)

Why do gender, minorities, and diversity matter?

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Also see the invited speakers for the second part of this symposium, below.

 
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Cornell University

Dr. Corrie Moreau is the Martha N. and John C. Moser Professor of Arthropod Biosystematics and Biodiversity at Cornell University in the Departments of Entomology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Ithaca, New York, USA. She is also the Director and Curator of the Cornell University Insect Collection with over 7 million specimens. Dr. Moreau earned her Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University and was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Before this she completed her undergraduate and Master's degrees at San Francisco State University. Dr. Moreau was elected a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America in 2020, an AAAS Fellow in 2018, a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences USA in 2016, a National Geographic Explorer in 2014, and highlighted as a Woman of Impact by the National Geographic Society in 2018. In addition she has two species named after her! Dr. Moreau's research on the evolution and diversification of ants and their symbiotic bacteria couples field-based research with molecular and genomic tools to address the origin of species and how co-evolved systems benefit both partners. Also, she pursues questions on the role of biogeography, trait evolution, and symbiosis in shaping macroevolutionary processes to better understand broad-scale evolutionary patterns of life. In addition to her passion for scientific research, Dr. Moreau is also engaged with efforts to promote science communication and increase diversity in the sciences.

2. Paleobiodiversity and evolution

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Adriana Mancuso, Ph.D.

Centro Científico Tecnológico CONICET - Mendoza

Lic. Biological Science and PhD in Geological Science. 20 years of research experience in the Permian and Triassic continental ecosystems from western Gondwana, especially in central-western Argentina, Patagonia and Namibia. With special interest in the paleobiology, paleoecology and taphonomy approach of the Permian-Triassic mass extinction in continental environment; the taphonomy and evolution of rift lacustrine environments; the taphonomy of tetrapod tracks as paleoenvironmental, paleobiological and paleoecological indicators. She applies a holistic view, the limnogeology, that includes the combination of different approaches as taphonomy, sedimentology, paleontology, ichnology, geochemistry, mineralogy, diagenesis, and bio- and chronostratigraphy to reconstruct the Permian and Triassic biotas in their paleolandscapes.

3. The new era of Biogeography

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Real Jardín Botánico

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in the theory and methods of biogeographical inference. Since 2008, I work as senior research scientist at the Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, in Madrid, Spain. One of my main research areas is the analysis of macroevolutionary distribution patterns across a diverse array of organisms (plants, animals, fungi) and biogeographic settings (continents, islands, intracontinental). Another is the development of analytical tools, especially statistical approaches in biogeography based on process models, which I pioneered back in the 2000s. Applied to metabases of phylogenetic data, these methods offered new insights onto the formation of biomes, such as the importance of " directional" dispersal in shaping distributions, or the relative role played by ecology and geography in the assemblage of faunas and floras. One significant methodological contribution was the implementation of the Bayesian inference framework in phylogenetic biogeography. My latest research combines genomics and biogeographic models with external sources of evidence (geographic databases, fossil evidence, paleoclimatic reconstructions) to reconstruct the evolution of lineages from deep time to microevolutionary scales. My recent studies focus on endemism, rarity and geographic disjunctions in the African flora to understand the link between climate change, geographic range shifts, and extinction.

4. Phylogeography: a growing bridge

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Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA)

Dr. Fernanda Werneck is a Titular Researcher at the Nacional Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA, Manaus, Brazil), where she is also the curator in Herpetology and the Head of the Biological Collections Program. She received her PhD in Integrative Biology at Brigham Young University, Utah in 2012, and was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in 2019. She is a very active biodiversity scientist in Brazil, with a career awarded nationally and internationally (L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Brazil-2016 and International Rising Talents-2017), an affiliated member of the Global Young Academy (GYA) and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC). Dr. Werneck actively train qualified human resources in Brazil (undergraduate, graduate students, and research assistants) concerned with biotic evolution and the effects of climate change on biodiversity. The Werneck lab (https://wernecklab.weebly.com/) work integrates field-based ecological and population genomics approaches to characterize how biodiversity has responded to past environmental change, to better understand and preserve our living biodiversity and forecast how it might respond to changing climates in the future. The main research lines of her research group include biogeography and conservation of Neotropical herpetofauna, and impacts of climate change on natural populations in the two largest biomes of South America (Amazonia and Cerrado) and transition zones. She is an active voice for promoting the role of Latin American Women in Science, and diverse work environments in the academy.

5. Eco-evolutionary dynamics and the making of biodiversity

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Department of Ecology and Evolution - Stony Brook University

My research focuses on integrating the processes of diversification and extinction to understand adaptation in ecologically diverse organisms and environments. To this end, I pioneered comparative analyses to: 1) for the first time, link diversification to a new skull architecture that confers a stronger bite force and opens up a new suite of ecological niches; 2) show that frugivory leads to retention of short-wave cones; and 3) discover signatures of preadaptation. I used these approaches to make the first characterization of olfactory receptor genes across distantly related frugivorous bat lineages. While revealing parallel evolution spanning continents, our results have influenced views on how the genetic architecture of vertebrate olfaction evolves. In environmental research, I developed new methods to tackle major current challenges: I edited a book on the connections between colonization and cocaine, developed new methods to accurately infer relationships among landscape uses, historical spatial, and socioeconomic data, and was the first to accurately infer future deforestation from real-time fire locations in an advancing deforestation front. My team discovered that abandoned development projects in the Amazon were replaced by illicit crops, shifting UN policies. In public efforts, I convened a team of extinction scientists to synthesize a coherent timeline for the historical ecology of the Caribbean, resolving decades-long controversies on whether mammalian extinction was caused by natural or anthropogenic causes. I have also been instrumental in developing field, lab and bioinformatic methods to quickly generate reference-quality mammalian genomes. This new approach can now scale across the Tree of Life.

6. Special symposium of the UNC Charlotte's Bioinformatics Research Center

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UNC Charlotte

In 2012, Daniel Janies joined the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as The Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics. Dr. Janies received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan in 1988 and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Florida in 1995.  Dr. Janies worked as a postdoctoral fellow (1996-99) and as a principal investigator (2000-02) at the American Museum of Natural History where he led a team that, using off-the-shelf components, built one of the world’s largest computing clusters in 2001. Dr. Janies originated the field of mapping pathogen genetic data in concert with geography and host animals. Dr. Janies was a tenured faculty member in the College of Medicine at the Ohio State University where he served as a national principal investigator in the Tree of Life program of the NSF. Dr. Janies' recent awards include DoD sponsored work to understand the spread of pathogens.  Dr. Janies has advised the Obama White House, the Pentagon, and testified to both Houses of Congress.

7. Principles, philosophy, and methodology of phylogenetic systematics

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Harvard University

Scott Edwards is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Scott is an evolutionary biologist, with diverse interests in molecular evolution, phylogenetics, comparative genomics and population genetics. His research uses birds as model systems, focusing on their evolutionary history and genome evolution, and fieldwork across the globe.  He did postdoctoral work at the University of Florida to study interactions of birds and infectious diseases. This work led him to study the large-scale structure of the avian genome and informed his current interest in using comparative genomics to study the genetic basis of convergent evolution and phenotypic innovation in birds.  He has also contributed to models using coalescent theory to reconstruct the evolutionary history of species. Most recently, Scott and others have introduced the concept of “PhyloG2P” – a program to use phylogenies to map genotypes-to-phenotypes of organisms that are intractable to classical genetics. His current work uses comparative genomics of flightless birds and high-throughput screens of enhancers to understand the evolution of genetic changes leading to loss of flight.

8. Current methods and applications of big‐data phylogenetics

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The Smithsonian Institution

Rebecca Dikow is a Research Data Scientist and leads the Smithsonian Institution Data Science Lab, part of the Office of the Chief Information Officer. She has a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago. Her dissertation research focused on using whole-genome data to build phylogenetic trees. After the completion of her Ph.D., she was a Biodiversity Genomics postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian. Since starting the Data Science Lab in 2016, she has been conducting biodiversity research using genomics, informatics, and machine learning tools. More recently, the Data Science Lab has begun working with researchers studying digitized collections and archives data outside the biodiversity sphere and strives to collaborate with scholars all across the Smithsonian. The Data Science Lab also provides support for researchers using the High-Performance Computing Cluster and training in data science and bioinformatics tools. She is also an affiliated faculty member in the George Mason University School of Systems Biology and the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation.

9. Phenotype still matters in the genomic era

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Francis College / American Museum of Natural History

Michael Tessler adores nature in all its forms. His research is biodiversity-focused, with specialties in invertebrate systematics, phylogenomics, conservation, and environmental DNA. He is an Assistant Professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn and did his PhD and Postdoc at the American Museum of Natural History, where he continues his collaborations. He has published over 30 papers with topics including the stress response of jellyfish to robotic specimen samplers, ways to use leech bloodmeals to survey for rare mammals, and the phylogenomics of early Metazoa. Recently Michael also co-authored a textbook (Phylogenomics: A Primer, Second Edition).

10. Diversity and inclusion in STEAMM (Part 2)

How do we move from theory to practice?

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Instituto Biociências, Univesidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Fernanda Staniscuaski is a biologist, with a PhD on molecular biology and biotechnology from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul - Brazil (2007) and a postdoctoral training at the University of Toronto (2008-2009). She currently holds an associate professor position at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. Since becoming a mother, Fernanda has experienced the typical struggle female faculty face in advancing with their careers in academia. In this context, she founded the Parent in Science Movement, aimed at supporting researchers in the challenging conciliation of motherhood and academia, as well as promoting public policies to increase the participation - and retention - of women in STEM.