Dr. Wendy Clement, Department of Biology
“Searching for trees to tell tales of the past: Using fieldwork, genomics and morphology to unravel the evolutionary history of Viburnum”
Abstract: Viburnum is a group of approximately 160 species of woody plants, over half of which are used in horticulture and sold as ornamental plants. Viburnum naturally occurs in temperate regions across the globe, as well as the high Andes of South America and subtropical montane forests of Southeast Asia. With collaborators at Yale University and funding from NSF, we are studying the evolutionary history and classification of the group. To do so, we reconstruct phylogenies or trees, which are branching diagrams that depict evolutionary relationships and represent a hypothesis of the evolutionary past. For this project, I have reconstructed phylogeny using whole chloroplast genome data from 22 species of Viburnum and a 10-gene dataset (chloroloplast + ITS) from 136 species. Using this evolutionary framework, we use phylogenetic nomenclature as opposed to traditional Linnaean ranks to classify Viburnum. This naming system facilitates discussion of deep time evolutionary events involvi
ng both morphology and biogeography. In light of these new results and findings from recent collection efforts, I will discuss the evolution of several traits in Viburnum demonstrating the importance of fieldwork and collaboration in modern day systematic studies.
Dr. Nancy Hingston, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
“Geodesics in 2 Dimensions”
Abstract: Sometimes very simple problems are very very difficult. I will describe the century-spanning attempt to determine whether history will repeat itself in a very simple toy universe consisting of one light ray traveling on a 2-dimensional surface.
Refreshments will be served!