Matthew Pennell

Assistant Professor

In my work, I seek to understand the history of life at the grandest of scales: why have some groups accumulated so much lineage and phenotypic diversity while other branches of the Tree of Life are represented by only a few species or a few forms? 

  • Office phone
  • Research area
    Evolution
  • Lab members
  • History

    Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Biodiversity Theory and Informatics

    Affiliate Professor, Department of Statistics 

    Associate Member, Department of Botany 

     

    Izaak Killam Memorial and NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow, UBC| July 2015 - July 2016

     

    Ph.D. Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Idaho | May 2015

    B.Sc. (Honours) Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University | May 2010

     

I am fascinated by life’s variety and seek general explanations for how it arose and how it is maintained. A basic premise of my research is that these two aims are interdependent: what we see today is the result of ecological and evolutionary processes operating in concert across ‘deep time’. In my research, I build theory, statistical methods, and computational tools to investigate how the interactions of these processes have played out over history. I have a particular fondness for phylogenetic trees, the historical pattern of branching that connects organisms to one another, and work to understand what these can tell us about the long-term dynamics of evolutionary change. To complement this work, I also develop general informatics tools for handling, manipulating, and sharing biodiversity data.

Current projects in my group include:

  • Reconciling rates of evolutionary change measured across different time scales
  • Measuring macroevolutionary rates for complex phenotypes, such as reaction norms and gene expression
  • Constructing ecological models for adaptive radiation
  • Developing a graphical framework for causal inference in comparative biology

You can check out past and ongoing projects on my GitHub page.

2019 Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize

2019
/
For Research

Society for the Study of Evolution

Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigators Award

2016
/
For Research

American Society of Naturalists