What do we do?
At the Computational Evolution Group we develop phylogenetic tools in order to understand evolutionary processes. Using our phylogenetic methods, we aim to improve our understanding of past evolutionary and population dynamic processes on different scales. We address questions in a number of fields, focusing on epidemiology, public health and medicine, ecology and evolution, and language evolution. In our daily work, we define and analyse stochastic models, implement computational methods, analyse empirical data, and discuss our new insights with clinicians, public health policy makers, as well as ecologists and palaeontologists.
In 2016, we focused on developing tools for investigating ongoing epidemics such as Zika in South America or Seasonal Influenza in our hometown Basel. We validated these software tools using data from the Ebola outbreak 2013-16 in West Africa. For the ongoing Zika outbreak we are using free available data, while for Influenza we are collecting data ourselves (funded by an SNF interdisciplinary grant). In particular, we conducted a city-wide survey on Influenza (for media coverage see https://www.bsse.ethz.ch/cevo/cevo-press/2016/04/influenza-survey-in-progress.html), and we will be collecting blood samples from patients during the upcoming winter season.
Furthermore, the group took a big step in bridging part of the gap between molecular evolution and palaeontology. We developed tools to integrate data sources from both fields in order to reconstruct the tree of life and assess the macroevolutionary processes which give rise to the present day species. To develop the area further, the group welcomed a new postdoc on an ETH fellowship grant.
Main publications 2016
- Kuehnert D et al. Phylodynamics with migration: A computational framework to quantify population structure from genomic data. Mol. Biol. Evol. 2016; 33 (8): 2102-2116.
- Drummond AJ et al. Bayesian phylogenetic estimation of fossil ages. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B 2016; 371: 20150129.
- Stadler T et al. Estimating shifts in diversification rates based on higher-level phylogenies. Biology Letters 2016; 12:20160273..