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[Colloquium] Visualizing Evolutionary History

January 29, 2009

Watch Colloquium: 

Quicktime file (345 Megs)
AVI file (571 Megs)


  • Date: Thursday, January 29th, 2009 
  • Time: 11 am — 12:15 pm 
  • Place: ME 218

Prof. Nina Amenta 
UC Davis

Abstract: Evolutionary histories for groups of living organisms are now routinely constructed based on genomic data. These phylogenies imply theories about what the hypothetical ancestor specieslooked like, which can be visualized dramatically using modern computer graphics.

As an example, we present some visualizations of the skulls of the hypothetical ancestors of the Old World monkeys, based on the skulls of their living descendants. But these reconstructions are clearly not the whole story; the oldest fossils in the group are quite different from the our reconstructions.

We consider integrating the information from fossils into the tree, in order to not only improve the visualization, but also to study the differences between possible placements of the fossil in the tree.

Bio: Prof. Nina Amenta studies computational geometry and three-dimensional geometry processing, and applications of these computational techniques to the visualization of biological data. She got her BA at Yale Univeristy in 1979, and worked for several years in the medical ultrasound industry. She holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley and was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin from 1997-2002, prior to her current appointment at the University of California at Davis. She is U.C. Davis Chancellor’s Fellow, and an editor of ACM Transactions on Graphics.